Love the One You’re With
By Tony Candela
The Steven Stills song referred to in the title was written in 1970 and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. It has been interpreted as justifying and explaining cheating on one’s partner based on said partner being far away and the availability of someone else closer at hand, the person close at hand deserving to be treated well under such circumstances. An alternative interpretation is to love your partner who, even if he or she is not everything you might want or might want in the moment, is the one you should learn to love for the long term. I have a third interpretation. More than anyone else, the one you are with the most and the one you should love the most is yourself.
This essay is about an entire gender – women – which I worry does not always love itself as strongly as they ought to. I can hear the outcry. “Who are you, a heterosexual male, to comment on women?” My answer is that men are often in a better position to understand women than most women are, mainly because most women (admittedly like most men) don’t get to communicate intimately with other women. Those who are members of women’s groups or organizations might learn from each other, but most members of the female persuasion are essentially on their own. By “intimate” I mean everything from body image and sex to the crux of this essay: worthiness. It is my contention that there is a contingent of women whose values lead them to favor, for example, anti-abortion laws and even sneakier societal restrictions on their ability to control their lives in ways that men take for granted. This includes proper and well-targeted healthcare, employment equality, contraception, the right not to be assaulted, and overall, the right not to be squelched into second-class citizenry.
I wonder for example, despite her professional achievements whether Amy Coney Barret really loves herself as a woman. Is she so well indoctrinated into the role of women as mothers and saviors of children that she believes as she rules, namely, that women are pretty much at all times the ones that will be the sacrificial lambs? Does she not understand that women who do not have her educational, financial, and family support are essentially at the mercy of society?
Or perhaps she believes as many women in France once told me. They said they know they are in a one-down position in the power dynamics game. They told me they deliberately flaunt their sexuality in order to establish some balance. Perhaps the play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes (411 BCE) is indeed the forever answer. In order to get the men to stop fighting the Peloponnesian War, the women went on a sex strike. (Unfortunately, the women couldn’t stand celibacy any more than the men could!)
We must contend with the fact that women will always be female. They will always be physically more vulnerable than men. They will always be the people who get pregnant, the child bearers (at least until we go completely in vitro), and when push comes to shove as it did during the Pandemic, the childcare providers. I contend there is a way for balance to be maintained without people yielding the blessings of their gender and at the same time reducing dramatically the curses of their gender. The first step is to love yourself. You are the one you’re with.
Women must not divide and conquer themselves. Men must have a real stake in women’s equality and women have to make clear to men that what is at stake is their overall happiness too. Note that there is a difference between identity and equality. We must remember “viva la difference!”
We must also remember that vengeance is not the answer. I fear the recent Supreme Court decision was more about controlling women than anything else. I wonder if it may also have been backlash against some of the actions coming out of the #me2 movement.
The price women are paying for what is as much an abstract concept as a real issue (the rights of the newly formed embryo en route to fetus-hood versus the entire life of the mother in all its meanings) is a control-mechanism. When one adds Clarence Thomas’ side-comments about restricting contraception, one should be even more convinced of the dark nature of some of what has recently occurred. And when one reads an article like I did in the NY Times by a woman who chose to get an abortion rather than let breast cancer kill her, I worry about what is about to happen to women whose very lives are now at risk. The woman stated that if her situation were to happen now as opposed to when it did prior to the Supreme Court decision, she might have been forced to risk death.
How about this for reductio ad absurdum: Suppose someday Samuel Alito or Amy Coney Barret or more likely, Clarence Thomas decide that tumors are living things and ought not be destroyed? Yes, I know a tumor cannot grow into a human baby or anything even grossly resembling one, but there is an absurd principle in this exercise to think about. Where and how do things end once we begin plummeting down some slippery slopes?
I sure hope good lawyers are hard at work trying to undo some of the effects of the recent SCOTUS decision, but in the meantime, ladies, please protect yourselves so nothing more happens to you. Love the one you’re with.
Anthony R. Candela, Author
Saying aloud what should not remain silent.
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy
A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports
Vision Dreams: A Parable
A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.
Christian Faith Publishing, 2019
Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar. Read more at: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyrcandelaauthor