That’s me in the middle – one sister with four brothers. Actually, I had a big sister, but when I was only six months old, my sister Charlotte passed away. The government was testing nuclear bombs in Nevada, and many people in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho were victims to the illnesses caused by the nuclear fallout of those bombs. Sadly, thousands of families lost grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children. But that is beside the point. Here are the points I do wish do make.
Point one. I grew up in a male dominant setting. No sisters. Just brothers.
Point two. I also grew up in an Asian home where culturally sons are sometimes more important than daughters. My father was the only son of the only son of the only son. That pretty much put him on a pedestal his entire life. His sisters gave up their education and stayed home and worked on the farm to help earn the money necessary to send my father, their brother, to Stanford.
Point three. My father was a farmer. It’s quite a help if a farmer has a bunch of sons to help him with all the work, and my brothers were extremely valuable to my father. He was very proud of the professionally-printed business forms used on the farm that showcased the name, “Charles Inouye & Sons.” I remember looking at that business name and thinking, “I wonder if that means me, too.” My father would often say to us when my brothers and I were all together, “Come on boys, let’s go.” Again I would think, “I wonder if he means me, too.”
Point four. I was a willing slave to my brothers. “Ann, iron my shirt.” “Okay.” “Ann, wash the car, I have a date tonight.” “Okay.” “Ann, I bought some pants that need to be shortened.” “Okay.” Whatever they needed me to do, I was happy to do it for them.
Point five: If anyone should have felt marginalized, it should have been me. If anyone should have hated men and joined the feminist bandwagon, it should have been me.
My understanding: I value the irreplaceable role of fathers and have been blessed by interdependent relationships with men. I adored my father. I adored my brothers. Why? Because they deserved my adoration. I don’t know anyone who worked harder than my father. He used to say that anything can be achieved with “superhuman effort.” His hard work and effort gave us every opportunity that we could ever want. He also used to say that every child’s legacy is a straight set of teeth and a college education. I had braces. I went to college. We were expected to help out, but we saw that his effort was always more than ours, not just in hours, but also in energy. I can still see him with a shovel in his hand or hefting full bags of potatoes onto the truck. It was superhuman effort. At the end of his life he said, “I’ve had my fair share of life’s blessings.”
My brothers worked hard, too. They would come home from school, eat a quick snack, and then jump in the pickup and head out to the farm. I went with them sometimes, but they went to the farm every single day except most Sundays. How could I turn them down when they asked me to do them a favor when I knew how hard they were working? I respected my brothers. They were smart. They were moral. They were good to others. They were hard workers.
I learned from the culture of my family to value my husband. We accept each other’s strengths and inadequacies. Together we have been blessed with two sons and one daughter. My husband’s role as father in our family is irreplaceable. And we have certainly learned to depend on one another. We work together. We have accomplished a great deal together.
In May we celebrated mothers. I loved watching the Big Ocean videos of women whose introspective search found them deeply grateful for their innate, maternal gifts. This understanding of a woman’s divine identity helps a woman to see a big picture, the whole picture of her eternal self. I believe that my Creator’s plan for me and all of His daughters is motherhood. Whether a woman is a mother of ten, a married woman who never bore or raised children, a woman who adopted children, or a single woman who never married, allowing our divine maternal nature to shine forth can bring us great happiness and can be the foundation of great accomplishment.
That said, what about men? What is their divine identity? And what can Big Ocean Women do to elevate men and see them shine forth as well?
I believe the divine identity of man is selflessness; and I believe that our Creator’s plan for His sons is fatherhood.
There is no better time than now in the history of the world for men to achieve their divine identity. Today, fathers are more involved than ever before in the care and nurturing of children. Today it is acceptable and admirable for men to be kind, gentle and generous. Today courage doesn’t have to be manifest in battle. It can be manifest in integrity and honesty. By the same token, strength is not just seen as muscle tone, but it is seen in being moral and in living high standards and in being spiritually motivated. Generosity is not just recognized in monetary giving, but in self-sacrifice, the giving of time, kindness, and understanding.
As women, do we have a responsibility to help men understand their divine identity? I think we do.
At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March, we attended several presentations. One presentation was hosted by the liberal feminists, using the #MeToo campaign as their war cry. It concerned me that their presenters were from countries where women had very legitimate complaints against men, countries that still practiced female genital mutilation, countries where young girls are forced to be married, countries where girls are not allowed to go to school. When one hears their stories, a negative reaction and even hatred of men might be the result. This was the desired outcome of the hosts of this presentation. However, one presenter from Jordan, Esraa’ .D.Mahadin, stunned everyone when she said, “We can’t elevate women unless we also elevate men.”
After the presentation we asked Esraa’ if we could video an interview with her. I couldn’t get her radiant countenance off my mind and went to the Internet to see if there was anything written about her. I found this information:
Esraa’ .D. Mahadin from Amman, Jordan
Esraa’ is the founding member and member in international and local foundations like the Jordanian Women Union, Jordanian Alliance Against the Death Penalty, Legal Committee for the Jordanian Women Union, Legal Committee for Civic Alliance to monitor the parliamentary elections, Shehan Housewives Foundation (Al-Karak), the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Lawyers Professional Association.
Her role model is her father. As a successful lawyer and politician, his hard work, encouragement and support for her and her siblings motivated Esraa to achieve her goals. From him, Esraa’ learned that “it is important to have a goal and work hard to achieve it, even when you are facing people who are trying to prevent you from succeeding.” http://old.vitalvoices.org/vital-voices-women/featured-voices/esraa-mahadin
Her role model is her father! She said to one of the most liberal gatherings at CSW, “We can’t elevate women unless we also elevate men.” Her work is to help men and women understand their innate gifts.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, I invite you to do something to elevate men. We can help men see the “whole picture” of their identity. Just as understanding our innate gifts empowers us as women, men can be empowered as they come to understand their innate and inherent gifts as well.
Here is a video of Esraa’ explaining the importance of women and men working together in their communities.