I got into a bit of trouble about my last post, and I’m gonna either clear that up or make it worse. Here goes:
If I gave the impression that the women in my book group were shallow or simple, I am so so sorry. If they were, I would have no problem either voicing disagreement or walking out. No, they are intelligent, varied, complicated, feminist women who are grappling with the same stuff that I am. That’s why it’s so hard to disagree. It is easy to disagree with an enemy; easy to make someone ‘out there’ into an enemy. But they are not out there. They are in here, with me.
And here is where I disagree: I don’t think that we women realize how subservient we are. As I have written, we are both victims and perpetrators of Martyrdom. It is easier to talk about our children than it is to talk about our dreams. Things might really explode if we actually legitimize and fight for our dreams—not just in the book group but in our families, our culture, and our fundamental way of life.
About those innate differences: It is a matter of specifying what, exactly, is innate. We can say people are innately shy, but ‘shy’ is a combination of sensitivity and anxiety which interacts with experience to generate an expectation of danger around people. We should break down gender differences similarly, but no one can in normal conversation.
I think women have gotten too comfortable with the idea that we are innately different from men. Many of those differences–our conversational style, our ability to cooperate, our pleasure in self-decoration–have everything to do with our lack of power in this culture.
Hey, I do take pleasure in decorating myself, and I do a good job of it. But I’m very aware that, as a woman, it really matters how I present myself. There are many days when I wish I could just throw on my suit and tie, do my job, and not have commentary about my outfit. But I’m not going to mention this every time I get a compliment about my quirky style. And please don’t stop noticing my efforts!
See, I’m a perpetrator and victim of fashion (as opposed to fashion victim). We have to live in the culture even as we question it, and that is the struggle I was trying to describe in my last post.