Currently I’m reading or recently finished: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, Sex, Art, and American Culture by Camille Paglia, A Very Easy Death and Second Sex both by Simone de Beauvoir, Appetites by Caroline Knapp, and poems by Sharon Olds.
All of these women naturally, very naturally descended onto my lap with cheeky and ostensibly inconsequential plops.
I must first remind you my sister was/is the self-proclaimed feminist in the family. I on the other hand seemingly dodged the flaming arrows of patriarchy or rather, I wobbly disguised or sometimes utilized my highly sensitive mind, vigorous breasts and highly active ovaries (alongside other feminine products both manufactured and organic) through joining the forces.
Twat does joining the forces mean, you might inquire? Yes, well joining the forces signified supreme sarcasm, perfunctory engagements, crucifixions for uncool statements, humor at the expense of someone else, supplying the current demand for the right body image and stylized flirtation, and many other awkward configurations that I learned to adapt to with quite rigorous and concerted efforts. Essentially it was joining the energetic current, despite the beckoning undertow.
Now I first need to disclaim that taking the proverbial arrow in the heart is not the champion criterion for deeming oneself as “feminist” in my mind, however the sting of shafts does critically shape and alert a woman’s viscera about the woes of inequality and invisibility–yet, is not dogmatically attached.
I was often told feminism is an impulsive, angered reaction to what is not grieved in a woman’s soul. It’s an unthoughtful emotion being corralled into a tangible entity, category, theory to be practiced.
A bad emotion formulating a bad theory, which then trickles down to produce bad praxis. I did little cross-examination of what I was told and adhered to much of what was majority and dominant within the Christian realm.
I learned this tactical move of conformation most apparently in Jr. High. I joyfully and frantically crushed my parts to reassemble them in a form more pleasing and acceptable to my popular peers. I wanted a blessing from those with assumed positions of power and I wanted my own power. I say this with full responsibility of my actions since no one was threatening my life if I didn’t conform, yet there was also a powerful sway from the mainstream that seductively deceived me. Still, I made a choice and I vividly recall the conversations and the ensuing developed schemes for fitting in. Thus, creating in some sense a false self.
I prematurely molted.
Consequently, one might say, “hello there, anxious one.” “Hi. Hi?”
“Where are your feathers?”
And, I’ve begrudgingly fought with these confused identities–both handmade and innate for far too long. The magnetic pull toward popular thought and manners of being in the world have kept me from ever entering into my narrative with a gritting desire to understand who I am.
I’d prefer to understand myself through the voices of dominant thought, approving me. Yet there is this other side or undertow that still travels with the other Heathers. I find her through music, dance, art, poetry, good fiction in which I am not primarily exercising my male archetype, which I’m inclined to do since I was a wee babe, but tapping into the feminine.
The feminine seems to be a fluid, instinctual, sensual, cosmic force often veiling herself from being seen or rather parts of me are shrouding her for fear of the cost, the threshold of ‘uncontrollable’ desire, the potentially wrecked homeostasis of all things in the world, and the staggering responsibility of my actions.
Who are you? Why did you do that? Are you crazy? Stop it. You’re so wrong. You did this.
I loathe and scamper from ever being caught by this verb, Blame. I seemingly cannot tolerate it, yet it’s an integral piece to the landscape of the feminine self arising (I don’t just mean this as a biological feminine, by the way, I see both male and female archetypes needing to be reconciled, understood and embraced by both men and women). The rational, self-preserving, fear-driven self will always, most likely, attack anything that is counter-intuitive, free, restful, sensual, and lovely. It’s akin to an auto-immune disease, fighting against the good, assuming it’s the bad.
All this to say, I felt fairly numb or distant to what my sister was/is struggling through as a woman in a man’s world. Gender was not my issue, my issues were about having power and being recognized by power. Male, female, don’t matter.
But, as it turns out, it does.
Ergo, the undertow is taking me and oh so naturally. I have my ladies teaching me and it feels so good to really plumb some depth on this issue, not merely due to authority asking me, popular thought seducing me, or my reactions taunting me, but out of a sincere desire to understand with boldness, not only my Woman-ness, but my Feminine-ness. This task, this voice is quietly, yet firmly telling me that this is important work.
So, dear, Onward.