Contempt wears many faces | A Dream, Part 4

by Elouise

Nora Ephron quote

I love dreams because I get to rewrite the ending of those that trouble me. This dream troubles me.

Most difficult is seeing myself in the woman down on the pavement in a degrading position of submission—similar to what happened to me when I was beaten.

For all the progress I’ve made in the last 25 years, I’m disheartened by what I recognize of myself in her. She’s dressed nicely. But she has no voice, no hands or arms, no face, no eyes, seemingly no strength. Only tears. I see defeat and surrender no matter what comes next.

My first observations came from the heart, not from confidence about what I would do in real life. Thankfully, the dream invites me to reframe what I see. Perhaps together we three women can make a difference, though it may not save our lives.

So here’s what I’m thinking today.

It won’t do anyone any good to respond in kind to the womens’ captors. I can’t possibly storm the tavern and take each of them down, along with any of their buddies who might join in the fray. That’s foolishness and a kind of grandiosity with which I hope I’m not afflicted.

If anything, I’m cowardly. I may talk big, yet be terrified when it comes to taking action. No. That’s not quite correct, either.

Someone has convinced me that I am or should be a coward. Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman, and all women are supposed to need male protection (the great protection racket)?

Perhaps this message comes from people (such as my father) who know full well I’m not a coward, and that if I open my mouth what comes out will be true—if not the complete truth.

What if I rewrite the end of my dream using using Nora Ephron’s excellent counsel, and with collaborative action in mind? You can see Ephron’s counsel at the top of this post.

First, we’ll be ‘bad girls’, not ‘good ladies.’ We won’t be coerced by warnings or threats about our bodies, reputations, livelihoods, or freedom to choose to do what is right. Nor will we give in to shame, mockery, screaming, contempt, or assertions that we deserve ‘every bit of roughing up we get and then some’! Nor will we be duty bound to be ‘polite’ to people who treat our sisters and brothers as trash to be thrown out on the street.

Second, we’ll break rules and stir up a little trouble in the real world. Not in the safety of our minds where we can imagine how heroic we’ll be. For me, this might mean speaking out in public forums–in person, in writing and in response to questions, in any way I’m able that supports our action. It isn’t about me and it isn’t about them. It’s about us!

As for breaking rules, it’s a spiritual discipline. The moral equivalent of faithful disobedience when faced with everyday ‘rules’ that demean others. These so-called rules assume we’re dealing with ‘helpless, hopeless’ others who aren’t capable of taking action themselves. Or that they aren’t worthy of our time or our creative efforts to stand with them. Or that they aren’t created in the image of God as we are.

Third, we’ll make at least some of this trouble on behalf of women. We need a troubled world right now—troubled for the right reasons! Action for ourselves and other at-risk women is action on behalf of all of us–women and men. Demeaning others demeans ourselves.

I want to be on the side of what is good, true and right. Yet if that means behaving in ways that seem the opposite of good, true or ladylike behavior, so be it.

I wonder what a collaborative effort might look like? Time is running out. I’ve already called 9-1-1. Now what?

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 December 2015
Nora Ephron quote from