The feminist issue

Dedicated to the strong and incredible women who are my friends.
I wish love to you all.

In a diary I wrote the year I was eleven I stated I wanted to name my first daughter Emmeline after Emmeline Pankhurst, and since I have always prided myself on being a bit of a feminist. Not too much, I still believe in underwire and like any girl have soft spot for high heels and a bit of glamour, and I do, although will not willingly admit, still fantasise about a knight in shining armour galloping into my life on his white horse to whisk me off into a lifetimes worth of adventures (as long as I can get my own horse and wear jeans of course. I certainly don’t have any Princess fantasies).

I played school teachers, dance schools, farms, cops and robbers and shops. I remember most often playing jewellery shops, covering a corner shelving unit I had with laminating plastic to make it look like a window, and wrapping my ‘customers’ purchases in tissue paper and ribbon. However I don’t ever once remember playing ‘weddings’ as a child. My mother has a picture of me in one of the homes we lived in (we moved around a lot) in Somerset of me in her wedding dress. Posing like a frog on a white lily pad, the dress fanning out all around me on our salmon coloured carpet. I don’t remember that day I assume because for me, it had little significance. I knew, and stated out loud from a young age that I didn’t believe in marriage. Additionally, weddings in general make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. If I ever have to watch a wedding scene in a film I fast forward through it. I can’t stand them. It’s a severely visceral reaction.
Yet oddly, let me point out that also I will be the loudest one applauding should some I love falls in love or gets married. And I will be screaming ‘YAY LOVE!’ because I do get weepy for a good love story and am the eternal optimist for other people.

Only now I am older I realise it is probably because of my experience of my parents marriage and the additional witnessing of much deceit in relationships, that I have come to be a general non-believer. I simply do not quantify everlasting love and good relationships with marriage. I don’t believe, but I watched the Royal Kate and Will marry the other day with my friends and felt joyously happy for them (like I said always happy for other people), and even cried (although admittedly I do cry at just about anything) but still, I felt no stirring to ever be in a white dress myself. The thought gives me cold sweats.

I don’t believe that I function well in relationships. Admittedly I have only had two long term relationships and both lasted 3 years. However it was difficult for me. And in the end, I fled from each one, feeling I has lost all sense of who I truly was, and that I would simply dissappear altogether should I have stayed. I have come to understand this is partly because I have always been around very strong women. But not ever really around strong men. The men I have known in family, and in romance essentially, have had weaknesses that led to self destruction and bad choices that have severely hurt other people and themselves. They have needed the women who have loved them to pick them up, more than the women have ever needed them. The women in my family are practical women, hard working and conservative. And though I am a bit of the black sheep bohemian, I was taught through diffusion to be tough, and independent, and to never rely on anyone but myself. The rub therefore lies in the battle between the woman I have been taught to be, and who I actually am. I never can quite place my role perfectly as the 'girlfriend', and get wrong footed, fearful and emotional when feel like I am failing all expectations.

The only man in my life I ever have truly trusted and admired was my Grandfather; a painter, a pianist, a nurse, who believed strongly in family values and education and had a great sense of humour. I always adored him. Him and my Gran always seemed to have the perfect relationship, whether they were working together in the nursing home, taking one of their trips, playing scrabble or fighting over how to work the new television, I looked up to them. And now, because they died before I got the chance to really know them as an adult, I romanticise their relationship. And considering some of the situations I have gotten myself into through love, and the men I have encountered and been incredibly hurt by, these memories are probably keeping me from destroying my romantic core entirely. Remembering my grandparents, keeps me from being a cynic. I have always been the girl with her head in the clouds, following her heart and often making rash decisions because of this. But in truth, I don’t want to change, and am trying very very hard to not become... well, hard.

But to not become hard one has to open oneself to always meeting new people. Not always such an easy feat.

It is difficult to meet people, everyone talks about it. People of all ages and sexes and backgrounds are all out there trying to meet ‘the one’ and most are being disappointed. Lately even when I go to events in places I believe I will find like minded souls, such as a gig or my favourite bookshop, I find I am the crazy girl nattering away to people who mostly just want to be left alone. Suddenly I find myself stuck in a world of introverts and cliques even in the circles you would expect to find the manifestation of the opposite.

I live in a city of romance, where once the roads were famously tread by powerful, insightful, independent and feminist women such as Anais Nin and Simone de Beauvior; women who spoke up about their feminine natures and critiqued phallogocentrism, who fought for a voice in a patriarchal world and apologised to no-one, all the while partaking in erotic affairs and  great love stories.
Just as with my belief about religion, I do not adhere entirely to the beliefs and laws of any one group, but simply live my life and voice my opinions as I see fit within my own environment. For example I am a feminist as much as I believe that women deserve all the rights men have in every culture, whether that is fighting for freedom of expression, or more extremely using ones feminine charms to achieve a success should one feel it is necessary. Women can not necessarily use or would want to use because of our make-up, the same ‘weapons’ to achieve strength, protection and freedom, such as aggression and brutishness, but they should be allowed the freedom to therefore use whatever tools or intelligence they have at their disposal.

It continues to surprise me just how powerful female sexuality is, and where I applaud it in an age where it is generally acceptable for a woman flaunt their sexuality (but please girls don't be sluts) it can become rather degrading. Much like the marriage, which in my eyes often morphs into something more like a business deal, rather than the wonderful comings and goings of lovers and best friends, the magic simply becomes lost.

Sex pleasure in woman is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken. 
-- Simone de Beauvoir 

In saying this I disagree vehemently with exploitation whether it comes from men or women, but I do to an extent agree with normative relativism to keep a simple balance in the world. I simply think that every one person should have the same basic rights as the next, everyone should do as they please, adhering to moral attitudes about doing no harm to oneself or others. I am a peace, love and equality kind of girl. Well aware that this is however not the world we live in.
But at the end of the day, the truth is, alongside all this diatribe, I have a few old fashioned values. 

In city culture, people are fiercely independent, competing it seems not for a partner, but for means of stature. No longer would knights be duelling over a woman’s honour, but instead over a prime piece of real estate or a job title. I have just seen so many relationships fall apart and fear that we as a species are evolving past relationships and families. Perhaps modern relationships/families are evolving into something more apt to surviving in our current climate, but doesn’t everyone seem to be becoming more unhappy? More lonely? More used? More lost?
I am a strong woman yes, and a modern one. But where did all the family values go?

I don’t dream of a 9-5 job or a mortgage or 2 cats or a veggie plot. I want to be able to bake cakes for my family and also to take my children travelling around the world to open their eyes to the beauty and goodness, and their good fortune, in the face of everything that is so corrupt. But, having always imagined myself alone with these children, I am beginning to understand that wanting to have a man to love and love back, to take care of and who will take care of me sometimes maybe wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe it is acceptable to not try to be perfect and responsible and strong all the time, but to admit that I might just need someone too. Maybe I am ready to allow someone to love me, and to stop being so defensive. To admit I want a man to take over me parts of me and allow me to live richly in my femaleness.

Every year I have a tarot reading from a wonderful friend of mine, and she told me that this year in Paris I would meet a man from a past life, and fall back in love. A second astrology reading I attended predicted the same story.
I felt dizzy and nauseas at the idea, and was adamant I would not open myself to meeting this man, whoever he might be.

The secret of joy is the mastery of pain?

Have I stopped believing in love? Have I lost my romantic streak? Am I so determined to remain a strong independent woman that I have shut myself off to the possibility of even lust? Have I really morphed into someone so different that I am no longer the girl who in her first year of high school got laughed at for breaking down in tears during the final scene of Romeo and Juliet?
I put on a tough face, but no I am not so different. I am still a fantasist, and romantic, and I still believe in fate. I will keep pondering these musings and discovering about myself but as for love. I shall get rid of my expectations and everything I think I know about it, except for knowing that love finds you, and we should leave it to the stars. One simply cannot make love, a feminist issue.

I know why families were created with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed.

 Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.

I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ.

-- Anais Nin

The word love has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings that divide them.

                                                                -- Simone de Beauvoir


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