Women’s generosity is beautiful: I love it when they practise it on me. I didn’t, as it happens, want to spend £2 on sandwiches right then and was planning to go without until dinner time. I feel cared for. And then she listened to me when I complained. Yes, Quaker disputes can be painful, and Quaker self-righteous bullying inexorable. I enjoy her company, am interested in what she has to say, and like to be heard and understood.
Then there was K, who is glad to see me here. She was on the appeal panel when I could have lost my membership, and always reminds me of it. She is glad to see me, but the way she says it reminds me of my past problems with South Wales Quakers. I feel uncomfortable even though she celebrates the fact that Quakers still have my gifts and service, and I their company. We talk for a bit. She tells me of her life. If I tell her, it seems in context of that- this is how it’s been since, moulded by that. A man wandered over and she introduced me to him, with a subtly pitying allusion to that.
Women are objectified. If you objectify L, you will see her having none of the qualities of female attractiveness, as being short fat and old. There. I have not damned her, but objectification. “You won’t remember me,” she said, self-effacingly. “Oh, I do,” I said. I am really not good at this, but I might even recognise her in the street, without this context. Her name badge reminds me of her name. I can’t remember where (amongst Quakers) we met, or what we discussed, but I have a strong recollection of a- bubbly– personality. A sweet person. This sweetness is constrained and funnelled through the objectification: she is not seen, so not known. If you see the whole person with the personality you see her beauty. We hugged. We are both starving.
Twenty of us out of 1200 went to the “Meeting for worship for movement”, expressing our inspiration through movement rather than through words. This is the bit why I have delayed writing this post. I can’t explain it. A woman- I know her, we have talked, I remember some of the conversation from last year- again the eye of pure objectification would see nothing in her, but she has charisma nonetheless. She smiled at me, touched my hands, and I was plunged into consciousness of that distress which is mostly unconscious in me, but constant. Perhaps it was a gift of something which I am starved of, which forced me to contemplate that starvation. No, it’s not alright most of the time, not really.