Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meet Fritz and Maverick

Have you ever heard the verse (some may call it a saying) “Even a fool is thought wise when he is silent”? There is another saying that comes to mind in my own life “A fool is thought wise if he takes care to surround himself with wisdom.”  I’ve never actually heard the phrase; I coined it for this post. I expect to see the revenue check in the mail.
       
The instance to say you know wisdom is a rare thing, in my opinion. Yet I feel I know wisdom in the form of 3 men. Two of those men are Fritz and Maverick.

I’ve known Fritz my entire life. Quiet wisdom sits on his shoulders, a welcome and humble companion. He often sits in the corner of a room, pipe in hand, cuffed trousers crossed at the knee, in deep silent contemplation. Yet you know beyond any doubt he listens to every word you say. He reminds me very much of a British gentlemen.
        
Then there is Maverick. I’ve known him a shorter time (6 or 7 years). I don’t know if our differences made us instant friends or our few shared interests struck up our alliance. Maverick’s eyes tell you that he is always thinking … about dozens of things at once. Rather he is computing as a machine, plotting one step ahead. His words are quick and hard to catch and at times difficult to grasp. Yet I know he makes great effort to speak on a level my less informed (not stupid) mind can understand.  Though he claims he is more machine than human this very action humanizes him far more than others I know.
         
You may wonder why I speak of men and their wisdom. Well I’ve been contemplating what makes some men attracted to this mode of thinking that a woman, confident, opinionated, pro-woman, (even feminist) my personal favorite “Empowered” and career oriented is alluring and desirable. Thus enter Fritz and Maverick.
        
Maverick thrives on the very traits I mention above. Often times I have spoken with him and listen as he praises and appreciates women’s ability to embrace such lifestyle choices. During these conversations I find myself wondering: What makes him want to be my friend?  It he knew the full scope of my opinions, would he be so eager to listen to me? Many of my beliefs have not scared him off yet, but others would have the power to have me tarred and feathered in this day and age. I would like to ask him “Maverick, why does this attract you to women”? In my limited (extremely) experience with men I find they have liked the idea of a quiet, hardworking,  (I know you’ll hate this word) and submissive wife. It brings a level of respect and as comforting as an embrace for them to have such a woman. Yet Maverick for all intents and purposes, wants nothing to do with such a woman. Does he think they are weak?
         
Fritz, well he greatly enjoys any chance to indulge in meaty discussions, woman or man. However, something tells me he has mo taste for the pro-woman type. If you were to find yourself in a room with him, you would see that you are not his equal based on sex, but rather your ability to communicate deep thoughts with a calmness that is nearly otherworldly. He is not the dominant sort and would never lord maleness or intelligence over you. I see him much as the fatherly sort coming alongside to give guidance, in a kind manner…never forced on you. He is in fact doing some research for me. I would ask him the same question as Maverick. “What attracts some men to the overly confident woman and others not”?
        
I’m sure neither man would like a quiet, hide behind the scenes type. That is not even what I think a woman should be. There is much to be said for a woman who can claim intelligence, respect, and a form of success even, yet retain the true sense of femininity, to be a woman.  A woman who garners such things with quiet strength and dignity.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The mind is a thing so complex in its many facets that I’m sure we can never fully understand it. Remove from that fragile thing, your mind, clarity and peace and suddenly you are thrown into a frightening place you didn’t ever wish to see. It is easy, and perhaps the human condition, if you find yourself in such a place to seek out excuses and reasons. We are ever the curious sort. I speak not as an observer, but as an experienced facilitator to such obstruction of our minds.

Dealing with depression and the dark things that follow in its wake is not anything I expected or wished to deal with, in my life. I am 23. I thought I would be young and invincible . . .  forever. I have good days. I have bad days. I have great, awesome bursting your heart days. I have cry myself to sleep and beg not to wake up days. Until I get better or maybe to cope, I will forever be asking myself where did things go wrong?

It seems to me that Charlotte Perkins Gilman decided why not blame the easiest and obvious source for my troubles, men. I can’t fully comprehend what life must have been like then for women, by God’s grace I never will. One or two men in one woman’s life cannot and should not account for all men being painted the tyrants they are.

Women you’ve helped to give me what I have today, a form of equality with men. Guess what? I didn’t ask for it. I never petitioned you to go before me and the world screaming your rights, that they are just as important as the male species, if not more. I work. I can vote. I write this blog. I can get an education and so on. In working I’ve enabled the monster that grows within me. I’m killing my passion, squelching my creativity, and I’m being consumed by depression. All I ever asked for was protection and to me that came in the form of a husband to be married and provided love, home, and the future of children. You’ve done a bang up job in prolonging those dreams. In the process of freeing me and my sisters before, you’ve emasculated men, creating weak little boys to run around in their place. I’m left to spinster my life to a job that robs me of sanity.

In these pages, though I’m to glean is the man’s fault. The male dominated society, who are to blame for these “problems.” There will always be rotten men amongst the good. We live in a fallen world, but maybe our time should be spent figuring why we as women can’t buckle down to the task at hand. Instead we bitch and moan that we are restless, dissatisfied, tired, imprisoned. Shut up. You know how you grow, how you deal with the hand you’ve been dealt? Think on working through it and with it, your situation, rather than how to escape. Where does anyone say you have to love housework or the like? Let’s be efficient, get it done, and move on with pleasing tasks: reading, writing, art, etc.

I opened the book with a clear thought, read slowly and try to be understanding. Coming from someone who already deals with clarity, that’s asking a lot.

Mrs. Perkins Gilman’s writing, if anything is convincing in the portrayal of the insanity of the main character. The spoutings of a lunatic hit a little to close to home.

In the afterword the story was best described as a ‘Poe-esque’ tale. I can’t think for the life of me what is or was self-empowering about such a story. The story itself left me mentally agitated and confused, disquieted even.

The afterword was repetitive for me and not the least bit convincing of the feminist argument. It was a rant, confusing, and incessant in the “evils” of men. At one point she, Elaine R. Hedges, says:

“The stance of the narrator is all, and it is a very complex stance indeed, since she is ultimately mad and yet, throughout her descent into madness, in many ways more sensible than the people who surround and cripple her. As she tells her story, the reader has confidence in the reasonableness of her arguments and explanations.”

Here’s the “reasonableness” I glean, you’re mad, insane, and in no way do you make more sense than those around you. Hello! Hitler was a disturbed man, but in everything he endured I can understand where he was coming from. (end sarcasm) Wake up, that’s twisted!

Coming from a background of leaning toward the unconventional when it comes to the medical world, I can say the husband in this story was almost on the right track. You don’t know what I would give for a quiet break in the country. However, lethargy, which this woman’s husband insists upon, only breeds further mental dysfunction. He was a product of the time’s view on such things. Insane? Lock them up.

I remember being told that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father (the author was related to her) when he was anxious and couldn’t seem to clear his mind, he would go to the basement and shovel sand from one side of the room to the other. End result? Peace, clarity, and calmness of the mind.

What this woman needed was for someone to say stop sleeping and take care of your child. Cook a meal, do some laundry, and gently move back into a “normal life.”

When Virginia Woolf’s anxiety and depression became too much, the doctor’s prescription: take her to the quiet country to rest and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. The result? She began to feel better, until the war hit. The fresh food in such high demand elsewhere became harder to acquire. It was downhill from there.

I can’t say or agree that a woman’s insanity is blamed on the supposed “dictatorial” manner of men. As for the author it seems to me she was more communist than feminist.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Maeve and Fulfilling Feminists

Enter my friend Maeve.

Maeve’s about to catch me in the act of a horrid deed.

Maeve: What you got there?

Me: Knitting Needles.

Maeve: Planning on killing someone?

Me: Not anytime soon. No, I’m knitting.

Maeve: Come again?

Me: (mimicking the motion of knitting) You know knit one, purl one, repeat, and WA-LA! You have a beautiful (well darn near it) garment.

Maeve: You’re kidding, right?

Me: No.

Maeve: Ugh, you’re so.  . . .

Me: So, what?

Maeve: Domesticated

Me: (A bit stunned)

Little background on Maeve, she’s a pro-woman, ‘I have a vagina so you better respect and listen up’ type. Her major? Rubbish and her minor, women’s studies. We’re friends, though, so I live with her in an understanding way.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Domesticated? Do you envision what I do when I heard this? Yes I’m seeing a feline running around my house, secluded and forced to conformity it neither wanted nor asked for. You are comparing me . . .  to a cat. Yet you sit (by you I mean Maeve and others like her) on your throne and tout that ‘We are women hear us roar’. We need to empower ourselves. We need to take bake what is rightfully ours, equality . . .  Blah, blah, blah.

Tell me something, though, how are you helping to empower me, let alone women, by branding us domestic. So I knit! So I like to bake and watch Regency costume dramas! So I endeavor to one day be a wife and mother! By no means should being labeled domestic become necessary or feel like such a slap in the face, but it does. Keep touting ‘Femme Fatals’, you’ve yet to convince me.

I see the look in your eyes.  It is borderline spit venom with a hint of hatred. You see my history all lined up for your amusement. Here’s a girl who hates feminism. Hate is a strong word.

My mother took me aside, one day, years ago in my youth and proceeded in my upbringing. She proclaimed to me the evilness of feminists, right up there with all those juicy four letter words. Then she forced me into dresses and pearls and sent me on my merry way. No! Don’t be absurd!

I don’t believe feminists are evil. Misguided? Yes. Too loud? Perhaps. Selfish? Definitely. I mean, we’re human, we’re born selfish, but after reading a preliminary article to this new venture, I’m stuck hearing one word loud and clear. Selfish.

September 2010 Good Housekeeping featured an article that had originally appeared fifty years prior. Betty Friedan’s precursor article to The Feminine Mystique, Women Are People, Too! A friend provided a copy of the republished article when they found out about my “little” study.

Rather than go on heatedly for several paragraphs, I’m only going to list a few bullet points. The article itself is only two pages.

- As I said before, selfish is the word that comes to mind. Sprinkled, sort of sugar coated, throughout are the declarings of ‘I’ deserve, ‘I’ need, ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’, me, me, me. Bleck! Get over yourself, women. If you’re lost, perhaps you should spare everyone the hurt and not have married. I’m not even married yet and I know that marriage can’t make it, if you make it about yourself.

- The article felt short. In that Ms. Friedan had begun to make a point and quickly wrapped it up, leaving thoughts unfinished. Perhaps she had always intended for the article to wet your appetite for her book.

- One of the four responses, printed along side this article from the time it was originally published, were negative. Equal, hmm? She says it best, “At home I’m my own boss.” Think about that next time you have to cow-tied to the stupid decisions your boss is always making (man or woman).

I know many out there are not likely to appreciate or even desire a biblical reference, but I’m likely not to care. Women should try reading Proverbs 31 when they are moaning and groaning about fulfillment. Which this article is annoyingly repetitive in mentioning again and again.

“She can’t live through her husband and children. They are separate selves.—” Since when? “She has to find her own fulfillment first.” Again I say, looking for fulfillment? Try reading Proverbs 31 or even considering a less selfish view of this sacred union you willingly chose.


(Clipart found on ClipArt ETC.)