Monday, May 18, 2009

An Sokolovska: A Somerville Writer/Activist Who Ponders The War Between the Sexes.

An Sokolovska: A Somerville Writer/Activist Who Ponders The War Between the Sexes.

It is not unusual for me to run into interesting people at my perch in the Sherman CafĂ© in Union Square. One of the folks I have talked with over the years is Activist/Writer/Academic, An Sokolovska. An is a Social Scientist trained at Boston University and Brandeis in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During this era she did field work and taught. She told me: “ I lived through the ‘cultural revolution’, academic joblessness, cultural disorientation, and I finally took financial shelter in the construction industry despite years of advanced study." But Sokolovska didn’t divorce her self from the “academic clay” and her intellectual interests were still in play. The question she asked many decades ago while working on her PhD was: “Why do men and women have difficulties with each other?" She said: “ We are an old species. We are a reproductive species. We have been together for a millennium, from a time before language. Why should we have so many problems? Why hasn’t it been sorted out?

Sokolovska, in the course of her studies, looked back and saw two relationships that go back to the dawn of time. One is the mother/child, the other is the male/female. The mother/child relationship is long lasting. The male/female bond is of shorter duration. Women have different survival skills than men. Children are born in a social matrix of men and women and live close to nature. But boys grow up and leave this society, and join different groups of men. For the man to be accepted by his male cohorts he has to reject what he left behind in the matrix. As a result the male has a fear of the part of him that is drawn back to the matrix. This is where the fear of women originates.

When Sokolovska used to teach she asked her students both male and female, many working class veterans, to observe each other’s interactions in the world, and with their peers. Sokolovska feels that if people have knowledge of each other they will drop the “masks” and stop misrepresenting themselves. From this harmony of the sexes will hopefully arise.

Sokolovska said we live in a time when conquest and war seem to be the way of the world. Naturally, this affects interactions between men and women. She feels it is essential that we take the time to truly understand our differences in order for relationships to be less contentious.

I asked her how literature—poetry, informs this discussion. She replied: “ I believe if something is true it has already been expressed in poetry and art. Poetry reveals emotional truth. The ideas, if they are true, should be found in some fashion in poetry and literature.”

Sokolovska used a quote from the late poet Wallace Stevens to illustrate the male-female connection:

“ A man and a woman are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird are one.” (From “Thirteen Ways to Look at a Blackbird.”)

Sokolovska offered a poem of her own to illustrate her points:

The Honorific Title
(honorific: "1. Conferring or conveying honor 2. Belonging to
or constituting a
class of grammatical forms used in speaking to or about a social
superior -"
Webster's 9th)

Why should I call you "Man"

before you have understood me?

Why, seeing your crazy terror of me - "The Other."

I have been observing you in the green thickets

for a long time. I know you are running, keeping secret, afraid.

Why would I call you Man?

I call Man that quiet place

the smell of the lake the earth sun-warming

long flutterings of air

There it is safe. I manage to be

Small then very large I am altering

Transforming like a berry or a flower.

None of this Man fears for it is home.

1 comment:

  1. I am interested in the cultural revolution that you study in this paper. I need a book about the cultural revolution. Where should I buy?