Integrated Wisdom

Heterodoxy Club

Her Body…His Rules

By this time everyone and his/her/their brother has weighed in on the Roe v Wade controversy, so here is still yet another thought from an old white guy. Today we might call this the ‘prequel’. 

After constant legal wrangling through the chambers of government, there is still one political party that would like to revert back to a time when women were considered property rather than human. They would still agree with the thinking that says white men know better about women’s bodies, minds, and hearts than women themselves. Still, we are all on this ride together and kindness, courtesy and mutual respect are the only way we can get through this tunnel of horrors. Sadly, this problem is age-old and just when you thought we might be stepping in the right direction…sorry, not so fast.

During the 1970’s and into the 80’s, we had what was referred to as the silent majority, which as it turned out was neither. They espoused family values, that were legislated by men, with a scant mention of the women, who were in most cases heads of the household. As long as good Christian Values ruled, these legislators were overjoyed. They prolonged their specious arguments until they were laughed off the Senate floor. Factually there were no Christian values at all, but it sounded good on TV.

Women have never been silent. Examples have come down to us through the ages. Strong examples were the artists and intellectuals who populated New York’s Greenwich Village in the early 1900s. Their slogan was simply, “free speech, free thought and free Love. New morals, new ideas, and new women.”  Many of these new women are now quite well known. Mabel Dodge, Edna St Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Cook to name a few. The revolutionary ideas were more about raising the consciousness of the masses, as opposed to armed struggle with which most strongly disagreed. 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1920

The idea was to express one’s self through open sexuality, thru eccentric dress, to marry or not to marry, to bear children, or not to, to earn your own living, to vote. These are the the issues the American modernist woman was interested in discussing, and in living at the turn of the 20th century. Sound familiar?

In the 1910s a group of well educated, well heeled white women met in a small restaurant in the Village (Polly’s 135 MacDougal Street) and decided to form a club for “well declared feminists.” Their ideas were simple and straight forward. Women should and will control their own lives and their own bodies. They were no longer willing to be treated in a subservient manner. Declaring as so many before them had we are “feminists”, and will continue to live our lives in this way. Thus the formation of the now infamous Heterodoxy Club.

Heterodoxy was founded in 1912 by Marie Jenney Howe, who specified only one requirement for membership: that the applicant “not be orthodox in his or her opinion”. The club’s members had diverse political views. The membership also included bisexual and gay and lesbian people. The luncheon club, which started with 25 members, met every two weeks on Saturdays. Group members referred to themselves as “Heterodites”.

Lunch at Polly’s — 135 MacDougal St. NY, circa 1915

The questions they answered and the ideas they vanquished led to a birthing of a new cultural class, where competence was more important than breeding, and ideas where more important than gender. 

Still after all this time and the several waves of feminism that have followed in their footsteps, we are left with the archaic ideas that women are to be protected when we men feel that is needed, and brought to subservience when that is what we (men) think is needed.

My brothers, you can not have it both ways. You old white men have no right to decide about a woman’s body, nor do you have the right to decide what is murder, what is sanity and what is antiquated, foolish religious clap-trap.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Beyonce, Run the World  (Girls)….then tell me what you think is coming!

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