Thanks to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) lock down, I have a little time to think and write and ponder a little bit about the idiosyncrasy of life and gender relations.
Throughout my life, I have truly struggled with what kind of woman I wish to be and this battle continues to this very day, only now, I struggle with what type of woman I want my daughter to be.
It all started with my WASP roots. Work, work, work, until your fingers bleed – this is the only way to achieve success. For men and women alike as I knew and understood well that men are fickle thus it is best to prepare for financial abandonment and almost look forward to it because, hey, at least you won’t be cheated on or lied to. However, men are, of course, the preferred gender thus it is important that you understand and adhere to your position beneath them at all times under all circumstances – YIKES. I am pretty sure my reaction to this than and now is exactly the same; it’s like nails on a chalk board for a young and ambitious lady like myself.
I was, however, a “good girl” in my youth until I wasn’t. I loved and adored my dad and grandfather more than any other two men on the planet and I wanted nothing more than to be loved back but I was also “cheeky” and certainly was not going to give more than I was getting in terms of love and respect. My father was a trouble maker from a young age. He reveled in being bad just to prove a point. I have never quite had his courage but I am getting better with age. You see, I started off overly responsible, taking life way too seriously and have progressively digressed for the better.
Growing up in Northern California, all of the women I adored were really beautiful and fit but also had proven their strength, courage, “breathed the fire” so to speak for their children and families. My mother, although more attractive and stronger than she has ever realized, let the “game” of life take her over and defeat her but after giving up for a little while, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and continued the good fight. Throughout even her worst times, she kept a job and held down a home for my younger brother and I. She was fortunate to come from a wonderful family who lived nearby and were willing to shoulder most of the child care responsibility while we were young. These were some of my best times and memories as a child. Having loving family around is the most wonderful gift for a young person.
Of course, I also had another side of the family who were much more stoic, yet reliable all the same. I was spoiled by my father’s parents, they adored me and I adored them. Coming from a broken home, all I wanted was a mom and dad who lived together and put me first which is exactly what they gave me. They were also more experienced, older and thus wiser when it came to child rearing, however, sometimes naive. You see, I was their second chance baby and although I am not so sure they were as awful as their children made them out to be, they still felt the guilt and I thus reaped the benefits. My mother used to sing a song about how spoiled I was by these two and it really was not a secret. The one essential element that I feel may have been overlooked; I needed them just as much or even more than they needed me. It truly was a win-win relationship and I will always cherish the memory of my grams and grandpa for as long as I live. I know that they are the only reason I am able to love my own child unconditionally.
While a tom-boy in my youth, I developed into a very girly-girl. I loved make-up, hair color, fashionable clothes, big earrings and high-heeled shoes. From high school through college, I lived and loved feeling feminine, sexy and pretty, in fact; I lived for it. The attention I attracted from men was empowering. In my 20’s, I had the confidence to walk into a room and capture the un-divided attention of any man I wanted, the fact that I knew it, may have proven dangerous later in life but that is a story for another time. I was on fire and living and loving each and every moment. I was truly free. I had friends, lovers, opportunity and a lust for life that I have not been able to find nor truly re-capture since this time in San Diego, CA and Austin, TX. In my mind, these were absolutely my glory days.
Fast forward to 36, single, with a baby who is my whole world and life, literally forced to live in a city where I feel completely alone and do not have a single soul that I can relate to nor confide in. Dreaming every night of the beach, not my old stomping grounds, but a new and fresh start very far away from my childhood. A whole new world of love, lust, passion, romance and freedom. Of course, I will be there mostly to share this with my best friend and my daughter thus I will live a very different lifestyle, one of responsibility and discipline first – that is my role now and I am content with it.
I can see the way she lights up when mommy dresses her up girly and the joy she feels when a stranger stops, smiles and gives her complements – she really is my mini me and I have a duty to her to give her the best life I know how to provide and this is it. There is nothing better in this life compared to a fresh start. Negative people claim that I am running from my problems but in actuality I am running towards hope, change, and feeling truly alive once again – without Prozac of course.
I am sort of content in my current situation but the bad times far outweigh the good for me here in Albuquerque, NM and I thus do not believe I will ever truly appreciate nor want to stay here for any substantial length of time. Sure, I would like to save others I have met who are clearly suffering but they walk their own path just as I walk mine. Nothing in this life is permanent. You have to appreciate the good people whom you encounter, cherish their brief memory yet ultimately move along the lonely road towards your own happiness and self actualization. Sadly, you will be leaving this world alone, don’t live your life for someone else and take control of yourself, your own desires, your own fears, your own realities and your own life. Cease the day, as there is no guarantee you will be around tomorrow.
So back to my original thought, when did “good” women become martyrs? I am thinking back to my revelation days in college when I first discovered what it meant to be a feminist. I never really got a straight answer but I knew it was something I needed in my life, this idea of true and lasting equality of the genders. In San Diego, CA, looking back, I had feminist role models from all across the spectrum. For instance, I took a class in Women’s Studies and learned all about our martyr suffrage sisters’ – the notorious “Iron Jawed Angels.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and fellow supporters were truly prepared to die in jail just simply to give women the chance at having the vote and were thus forced to stay alive by iron jaws and raw eggs by the jail staff during their incarceration. This is a whole other level of martyrdom if you ask me, ugly, gruesome and you still have to live with yourself after the whole miserable ordeal is over – SERIOUS YIKES.
Fast forward one-hundred years and do most women even care about voting? We have had THREE chances, in fact, to elect a woman to the Presidential office and most average women are the one’s dragging these ladies good names and exceptional accomplishments through the mud in the ugliest ways possible. Where did it all go so wrong and what in the hell are we even trying to prove anyway?
Clearly the majority of women are not seeking power in a political or business sense, fine. Ironically, however, more women are seeking an education and tend to be the stable earners in many American families for some time now. This is crazy to me. It’s like a game of co-ed softball. All the men (good players) are injured or have other obligations, the ladies are suited up to look like men, in nasty, dirty cleats, baggy pants and t-shirts ten sizes too big, with their helmets and gloves waiting patiently on the side-lines, yelling in their huskiest voices, “Put me in the game coach,” Coach looks at the bench and directly at one of these several ladies and says, “Okay…… Jennifer, you’re up, get in there and make me proud.” Jennifer gives a little effort but is afraid to be “too good” and accepts her occasional time as a player while happily relinquishing her position to the first man who is available to take her place. From my experience, this is modern day feminism and this is why things are such a damn mess.
This is a far cry from our “Iron-Jawed” sisters and maybe that is okay. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is a whole lot simpler and right in front of us. Maybe, instead of trying to compete with men and/or prove we are as strong or as good as they are by relinquishing all of our feminine whit and beauty, we simply acknowledge our god-given differences and realize we have no desire to really even play their game on their field, with their rules, anyway. Maybe gender segregation as opposed to gender equality is the answer.
The best times of my life have been spent putting on make-up, laughing with other attractive women, going shopping, out dancing, sipping wine, luring a masculine, tall and successful man. I propose a celebration of genders as opposed to a masking of them because guess what, it is human nature and that is as beautiful as it gets – just keep it classy please. Don’t be afraid to be pretty, you are not selfish nor are you a bad woman but also allow men to simply be men and encourage them to be gentlemen. Sure it is not perfect nor completely fair but it is better than posing as someone or something you are not and have no interest in truly being. Live for yourself and the love you are building in your own home and family and disregard outside expectations. Thank you COVID-19 panic and hysteria, you have taught me something valuable and forced me to sit down, think about and share my ideas.