Let’s just each be whole people. Not even necessarily authentic. We can be frail and dishonest and confused and superficial.
There is nothing wrong with femininity (or masculinity or any other gender role) per se; it’s the assumption, the obligation, the “normativity” that is a problem. Same goes for heterosexuality and monogamy and Caucasian ethnicity and able-bodiedness.
Let’s try not to be so blind to the ways we destroy and negate each other and ourselves. Let’s be bitchy and envious and weak, but also aware and embodied and fully human. In the so-called “battle of the sexes,” we are all casualties.
Money, fashion, cosmetics, diets, exercise programs/products/memberships, relationships are not the answer. Nor are they the problem, in and of themselves. But commercialism is built on making people feel like they need to buy something in order to fix some defect in their lives or in themselves.
And in general and on the whole, far more expenditure of time, money, attention, effort, and energy is considered expected and normal for women than for men. Women are so bombarded we barely register it; women aren’t taken seriously if they don’t conform. (Yet they also get mocked and criticized if they do.)
The (further) irony is that so many self-proclaimed modern, independent, liberated women try to demonstrate their status by spending, spending, spending, acquiring, acquiring, acquiring. This is what’s popularly considered to be the epitome of female power?
Cosmo can ruin lives. Porn can save them. And vice versa. Wake up. For god’s sake, be.
We talk about the power and privilege that come with certain identities. How nearly impossible they are to see. How no one asks for it, yet those who have it willingly and—in a seeming contradiction—unknowingly benefit from it. How (for example) race is constructed but racism is real.
When we state the truth of our experience, we sound like we are whining, or are conspiracy theorists, or have a victim complex. Even if they can break through the barrier of understanding (itself a risky proposition), they are faced with the crushing dilemma: what can I possibly do about it?
The only puny answers I have been able to come up with:
- Validate the struggles of the invisible and voiceless
- Try to guide the next generation in a positive direction
- Stand with those who are oppressed or marginalized, give them your support, and risk being despised along with them
Life is complicated. (So are people.) Be who you want. We are all responsible. But no one—no one—is the enemy.