. . . listen to Isabel Allende. Listen to her even if you don’t share her politics, or would disagree with her solutions, because she is right about so much beyond our relatively safe and special world. Oh, and because she’s funny.
. . . listen to Isabel Allende. Listen to her even if you don’t share her politics, or would disagree with her solutions, because she is right about so much beyond our relatively safe and special world. Oh, and because she’s funny.
“I’m interested in the gratuitous disparagement of men whose looks and personal style fail to track the masculine stereotype,” Ann Althouse (above) took Rush Limbaugh to task this morning over his sissy-laced rant about Wikileaker Julian Assange: “I like Rush Limbaugh and have defended him many times, in front of people who tend to hate you if you say anything good about him, so I think my opinion on the subject has special weight … And let me invite Rush to … diavlog with me about the so-called chickification problems that plague our world today.” Video here.
“Loved this that you told the Big Guy,” we wrote in the comments of Althouse’s incandescent, must-experience video-post “Here I am listening — for the first time — to Rush Limbaugh talking about me“:
“To say men are like women when they’re being cowardly and weak. I don’t like it … Also, some chickification is a good thing. Women have a lot to offer. Think about it.”
Exactly. As we wrote a few months back about the so-called feminization of our culture:
It isn’t “feminization” at all, but, rather, postmodern, identity-politics “feminism” — one of a cascade of unfortunate byproducts of the Gramscian march through the institutions — that has given us an increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses of both sexes.
Twittering this morning about the latest effluence from that impotent chattering class — MSNBC’s “house conservative” Joe Scarborough’s Journolist/Cabalist temper tantrum about Sarah Palin’s “anti-intellectual”‘ and “dopey dream” of being president, and how come nobody’s paying attention to me!? (h/t Dan Riehl) — we stumbled upon this seductive metaphor from Lisa B:
Now we have a new psychological disorder in addition to Palin Derangement Syndrome. Palin Envy is rampant! Paging Dr. Sigmund Freud! 🙂
As we said in response:
Leaving Afghanistan: “Zohal Sagar lost her father and two brothers in the war. Her mother hopes they can leave Afghanistan and find a new life in Canada,” TIME captions this bitterweet image of one of the innocent victims of war. But it gets oh so much worse. Their cover image will haunt you forever unless you’re a moral relativist like Editor Peter Stengel, who makes a fine point of assuring us he isn’t taking sides (see below).
By Sissy Willis of sisu
“We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it,” protests TIME Managing Editor Peter Stengel, sending the moral relativist’s “secret signal” even as he has decided to go ahead and publish what’s got to be the best argument ever — the image itself — for staying the course in Afghanistan:
Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years. Her picture is accompanied by a powerful story by our own Aryn Baker on how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival.
Asked for comment on the plight of women in Afghanistan — presumably not yet having seen TIME’s cover portrait of Aisha — former National Organization for Women President Ellie Smeal had this to say, according to a Washington Times report:
The future of Afghan women “has just dropped out of all public discourse. What happens with females over and over again is we’re forgotten.”
Caption from our June 2 post “An increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses“: “Palin isn’t a feminist — not in the slightest,” huffs card-carrying postmodern feminist Jessica Valenti of the blog Feministing, stumbling inadvertently onto the truth that will soon send her and her sob sisters tumbling into the dustbin of history: “What she calls ‘the emerging conservative feminist identity’ isn’t a structural analysis of patriarchal norms. It’s an empty rallying call to women who are disdainful of or apathetic to women’s rights.”
Try telling that to Sarah Palin and her Army of Mama Grizzlies, Ms. Smeal. Woman as victim? That’s SO yesterday. “She’s playing the “woman card,” notes Tuck. Yet more proof if needed that postmodern feminists are on the wrong side of history.
Our friend Peter Ingemi of Da Tech Guy’s Blog has action steps:
Note. Despite its bad press under the recent ramming down the nation’s throat of ObamaCare, the best medicine in the world is still being practiced in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as TIME Managing Editor Stengel acknowledges, in spite of himself:
To learn more about Aisha, and how an NGO is helping her get reconstructive surgery in the United States, go to Women for Afghan Women.
Update: This just in on Twitter as we were about to publish, from twitterfriend Paul Levitt:
A friend spent several months in Afghanistan last year teaching traditional songs to women and kids … Told me of people crying at being able to sing again — the Taliban killed anyone who sang, played music.
It isn’t just for the women. It’s for our very humanity that we must win the war in Afghanistan.
Update II: Trending on Memeorandum.
“I am up against the same machine that put Barack Obama in office. The machine came in, they wiped all of his competitors off the ballot, just like they’re trying to do to me,” grassroots Illinois state senate candidate Cedra Crenshaw told an Independence Day audience Saturday,” drawing her secret weapon: “They can’t call me a racist, white, evil man.” You can donate to her legal defense fund here.
By Sissy Willis of sisu
“You hear so much about conservative women leading this conservative movement in this country, and I really believe that conservative women are the most persecuted figures in politics right now,” says Dana Loesch in a refreshingly candid Dana Show radio interview — crossposted at BreitbartTV — with “mama grizzly” Cedra Crenshaw. Does the hand that rocks the cradle still rule the world? More about that in a moment, but first a few excerpts from the interview:
She’s a wife, she’s a stay-at-home mom, she’s an education reformer, she’s an accountant, and she was fed up, and so she threw her hat in the ring.
She has enormous support from the grassroots movement, and she has terrified the Chicago Machine, who is trying to move heaven and earth to get her off the ticket.
The Tea Partiers love her. Listen to the Dana Show interview and her Independence Day speech, and you will understand the smart, common-sense appeal of this authentic American voice. Fellow Illinois Republican Adam Andrzejewski at Big Government has more:
Why is the machine afraid? Because a new class of leadership is starting to develop. These new leaders threaten to end the shell game of taxes, politics, and patronage. Cedra Crenshaw is one of those new leaders, and she’s is running for state senate against one of the Chicago Machine’s rubber-stamp apparatchiks.
She’s an accountant who wants to spearhead a forensic audit of Illinois state government. A former auditor at Deloitte and Touche, Cedra supports an audit of the half a trillion dollars of Democrat-controlled state spending during the blow-off historic corruption of Blagojevich/Quinn. The Democrat Machine — contractors, politicians, and patronage army — stand in naked fear of the result that such an audit would bring.
“The mainstream media is completely ignoring you,” Loesch notes, “because you defy their narrative of what conservatism is.” Crenshaw agrees, but with new-media avenues like the Dana Show itself, Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, fire-breathing bloggers and twitterers and Tea Party energizers, she’s been able to disintermediate the media powers-that-be to get her narrative across loud and clear:
People in this state, they want jobs. They want economic growth. They’re not interested in more handouts and more promises … My opponent, he’s got no solutions except more tax increases.
While uniters like Cedra Crenshaw are pursuing the American Dream, dividers like New Black Panther Party Philadelphia chapter leader “King Samir Shabazz” (at 2009 street festival above) pursue the nightmare part of Myron Magnet’s The Dream and the Nightmare: “I hate white people. All of them! Every last iota of a cracker, I hate him! You want freedom? You’re going to have to kill some crackers! You’re going to have to kill some of their babies.” Whatever gets you on the evening news. Shabazz was caught on tape intimidating voters at the polls in November of 2008, but in his infinite and inscrutable wisdom, Attorney General Eric Holder is dropping charges.
Contrasting the public faces of Cedra Crenshaw and King Samir Shabaz, the words of William Blake’s The Tyger” come to mind: Did he who made the Lamb make thee? We found a timely interpretation of the riddle in Juliette Akinye’s provocative and insightful blogpost “Scarred Souls: More About Abortion” (h/t twitter buddy King Shamus of Blog de KingShamus), where the blogger AKA Baldilocks casts the old-fashioned notion of women as civilizers of men in a contemporary light:
There might be a little preaching. That’s an essential part of me. He’s a part of me…
All women should stop creating the exterior and — more importantly — the interior conditions under which abortion is an option. And by that I mean that all women should stop giving themselves to men who they are not sure will love, cherish and protect them and any prospective offspring they may create by having sex with each other …
You see, there’s this thing about women, a thing that makes us different from men, aside from the physical aspects. When we lie down with a man, we are giving him more than physical pleasure and doing more than gaining physical pleasure for ourselves.
When a woman has sex with a man, she joins her soul with him [For those of a more scientific bent, it’s a matter of chemistry — oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone“] …
Think about all the illegitimate black children there are in America and think about the fact that black women have the highest rate of abortion of any women in America. That statistic says that there are very many black women who are giving themselves to men who don’t care about them.
Here’s the kicker that illuminates the disjunct between Cedra Crenshaw’s and King Samir Shabazz’s American dreams:
And, on top of that, we can take these effects and mirror them onto black men, too many of whom are angry at the world, angry at black women, and angry at themselves (black-on-black crime). That anger almost always stems from observing or experiencing the spiritual, moral and worldly failure of their mothers.
It’s the nanny state, stupid! The unintended consequences of the debilitating dependency fostered by those handouts Cedra Crenshaw’s supporters want no more of.
Update: Related thoughts and video from Ed Morrissey:
“Mama grizzlies” actually fits better in the Tea Party movement, which I’ve argued is driven in the main by activist women. These are women with families who aren’t focused on what government can do for them, but what government should be doing, period. They’re defending their turf rather than looking for handouts, and defending their children from expansionist government and the massive spending that their children’s children will have to repay. It’s a good brand to stake out for Palin, but she’s been doing that all along with the Tea Party movement (as has Michele Bachmann). This just puts a label on it, and one that sounds much more assertive than “soccer moms” did.
In the Japanese arena the protagonist of pregnancy is the interconnected entity of the mother-baby, whereas in the Israeli case the protagonists are the pregnant woman and her suspect fetus. Pregnancy is conceptualized as an early stage of parenting in Japan and is all about the interdependence of mother and baby and their ongoing relationships. The Israeli model defines pregnancy as a state “in limbo” that involves two separate individuals (of whom only one is a person).
In this respect, perhaps, Israel can stand in for the whole West. At some point autonomy became the premier value in Western, especially American, culture. Relationship thereby came to seem at least as much a threat as a necessity. Women, assigned to be the tenders and maintainers of needed but denied support systems, were themselves often regarded as a regrettable necessity; they, and the part of men that needed them, were regarded with contempt. Just think of the rejected man who kills the woman, their kids, and then himself. Women in feminism’s second wave aspired to the prized virtue of autonomy (I was there! I did!), believing that only when they became as monadic as the mythic ideal man would they have attained full and equal human status.
The biggest threat to a young woman’s hard-won, fiercely guarded, precarious autonomy is her body’s propensity to get pregnant. Young feminist women who advocate abortion on demand seem to regard an ill-timed embryo as a parasite, a hijacker, almost an assailant — a infiltrating secret agent of all those who would throw a net over free women and curtail their autonomy, forcing them into service to others than themselves. (The male equivalent of this alienation of affections from the self used to be shotgun marriage; now, I guess, it’s child support.) They cast abortion almost as an act of resistance to oppression. (Autonomy doesn’t mean Western women are never willing to serve others than themselves, but it does mean they want to be the ones to decide whom and when.) In my own essay on abortion, I tried carefully to describe it in a more balanced way:
It is a kind of self-defense – one life in precarious progress fending off a blameless hijacking by another barely begun – yet it presents the stomach-turning conundrum of self-defense against the defenseless. To define this act as either a crime or a right is too simple. It‘s a tragedy.
The author of the blog post that caught my eye tonight, reporting on an Israeli anthropologist’s comparative study, is a Christian who resonates more with the Japanese view:
The notion that the developing baby is indeed a baby right from the start reflects my own convictions, and I was especially drawn to Ivry’s descriptions of the Japanese practice of taikyô, which involves speaking to the unborn baby. In the words of a bestselling Japanese prenatal guide, “It is practiced in order to deepen the bonds between the mother and the baby, through the mother’s recognition of the baby and her acceptance of him.” Ivry’s descriptions of Japanese mothers practicing taikyô with their unborn babies reminded me of reading the Bible to my daughter, moments after I discovered I was pregnant.
Yet it doesn’t escape Elrena Evans’s notice that early abortion is legal and practiced in Japan:
Although Japanese pregnancy culture embraces the growing child as a current—not future, or potential—person, and the abortion rate is lower than it is in the United States, abortion is not rare in Japan. “To this day abortions are available practically on demand in Japan,” Ivry writes, though there are limitations on how far into a pregnancy abortion can be performed.
She says no more on this fascinating subject, which, like other aspects of Japanese culture, always gives me a through-the-looking-glass feeling. (Follow that link!) Imagine: “the process of government certification for abortionists in Japan makes them members of the Motherhood Protection Association.” And an aborted embryo or fetus, like a miscarried one, doesn’t cease to exist as if it never was; it remains a part of the family! Who is weirder, us or them?
It reminds me of my own frustrated efforts to get people to hear what I’m saying about my abortion. I keep saying, “I don’t feel guilt, I feel regret,” and they persist in conflating the two, saying again and again either “You have to forgive yourself” or “God forgives you.” I feel as if I’m not being heard. Guilt can be absolved and resolved by forgiveness. Regret is forever, without even the sadomasochistic satisfactions of blame.
ADDED: Evans’ blog post goes on to describe the Israeli experience of pregnancy as less one of assailed autonomy than one of anxiety about the normality of the fetus. The broader difference between the Western and Japanese views, it seems to me, is the scientific materialism that’s come to dominate the West. To a majority of Americans, when a baby is physically aborted, it’s gone as if it never existed. And if it’s physically flawed (but viable), it should never have existed. I don’t know whether the Japanese test for and abort, e.g., Down syndrome babies. But while they may bring little knitted caps to the shrine for aborted fetuses, they are notorious for being callous towards the disabled.
None of this is simple.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Like the worst of both worlds — academic, jargon-ridden, hatchet-wieldingly ideological? But no, in this rare case it’s the best of both worlds: humane, expansive, magical. I’m not sure if it’s possible to change human nature, but Dorothy Dinnerstein thought that if anything could, it would be the new fatherhood.
I found these quotes I’d copied out in some old notebook/ commonplace books.
And this mysterious body, this body whose transience we try so vainly to feel as a fact, is loved with a special reverence for continuing, miraculously, to live, and hated with a special loathing for promising, incredibly, to die.
* * *
The sinking sense of falling — loss of maternal support — is the permanent archetype of catastrophe.
* * *
[T]he sexual realm . . . is a wildlife preserve in the civilized world, a refuge within which inarticulate, undomesticated private creative initiative is protected from extinction.
They’re from Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur, which relates to the Jimmy Buffett lyric, “Some people claim/ that there’s a woman to blame . . .” From Amazon reviews:
I read this book twenty years ago when I was in college. I found (and still find) Dinnerstein’s feminist argument for shared parenting to be one of those books that has the potential to change lives. . . . The kernel of her argument is that so long as we all are raised (exclusively or predominantly) by our mothers or by female caregivers, children will grow up with a deep-seated resentment of the feminine (since no parent can perfectly anticipate a child’s needs, and all children, in growing up, will be conditioned by our infantile rage at our parent’s imperfections). . . . At the age of twenty, I was persuaded by Dinnerstein to be (when I did have kids) an active and equal participant in the raising of my children, from changing diapers to feeding and everything else. I was so convinced of the importance of her analysis, and of its potential to change lives, that I have, in the past few decades, bought and given away as gifts eighty-eight copies to male and female friends. (I figured that if I just told people what a great book it was, few would follow up, but that if I actually bought it and thrust it into their hands, they might be moved to actually read it.) I’m not sure how many of these were actually read by the recipients. But I can report that out of 88 copies given away, eight people came to me afterward and said something to the effect of, “This book changed my life.”
* * *
Dinnerstein also relates the fear of death to how women rule the infant’s world and men the adult’s world. Seem unrelated? Phrase “womb to tomb” captures it best perhaps.
* * *
it is not “just another” “feminist ” title. Indeed quite a few feminists have objected mightily to it over the years. The big problem, though, it that it has been roundly ignored over the years!
I agree. Although it is quite Romantic, the book made enormous sense to me when I read it around age 30, especially in explaining the cruel control of women in so many traditional cultures. Its influence still lingers.
The preening perversion of men who would murder children fresh out of their mother’s womb for the crime of being born female sickens our heart and soul. Hatred and fear — side by side with love and adoration — of the female of the species is universal throughout all cultures, of course, but common sense would have told Communist Chinese functionaries that killing the girls would lead to a generation of desperate men. Common sense? Unintended consequences? That’s never been part of the utopianist statist’s palette. They know better than we what’s best for us, and our individual hopes and dreams and human nature be damned. Above, Mary Cassatt’s “La Toilette,” oil on canvas c. 1891, The Art Institute of Chicago.
“May murdered baby girls haunt your dreams, Mr. President,” we twittered in horror at the latest brain-dead outrage perpetrated by the current holder of the Leader of the Free World Seat. A horrified, outraged Jay Nordlinger at The Corner explains:
We, the United States, have been having human-rights talks with China. Our side is apparently led by Michael Posner, an assistant secretary of state. I will quote from an Associated Press report:
Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.
He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [their?] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
I hope I have read that incorrectly, or am interpreting it incorrectly. Did we, the United States, talking to a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights, that in all probability harvests organs, apologize for the new immigration law in Arizona? Really, really?
But even as President Obama’s mandarins mock the custodians of the Shining City Upon a Hill and insult all humankind and womankind by their unconscionable sit-down with the perpetrators of genocide and gynocide, a new generation of American women “walk softly but carry a big lipstick,” as Lori Ziganto writes at Hot Air:
The left hates that phrase and they have ridiculed me for it on more than one occasion. You see, they don’t get it. It’s not surprising, really, as we’ve all known for some time that while the left trots out the For The Women™ meme constantly, they are anything but. The same way that self-avowed modern-day feminists are anything but feminist. In fact, they are diametrically opposed to feminism, by it’s very definition, because their entire agenda is actually harmful to women. This is why I now call them Femogynists and I’m taking the term feminist back.True feminists are women like Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley. They are the new faces of feminism. That has a great built-in bonus, too — they are far easier on the eyes and exhibit none of that irksome hysterical screeching like the irrelevant and soon to be extinct femogynists. They, and women like them, are coming to the forefront now.
You go, girls!
Boys will be boys, and we have no quarrel with Stacy McCain’s forthcoming frolicking “National Offend a Feminist Week 2010.” Once the Gramscian march through the institutions co-opted the public face of feminism with that whining, male-bashing, soul-deadening, identity-politics odd duck dubbed “Women’s Lib” in the Sixties and Seventies last century, we were out of there. But still, like Robert Frost’s Yankee individualist yearning to breathe free, there’s something there is in this feminine heart that doesn’t love a wall:
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!“
“Well women, of course are delightful persons, and I hear a strange and strident voice that I think is attempting to stop some of this progress being made in behalf of woman. That’s the braless bubblehead, I call them,” Sen. Jennings Randolph (D WV) unwittingly presciently told a reporter back in August of 1970 as Women’s Liberation, the third wave of Amercan feminism, took center stage in the national debate through promotion of an ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment.
Some insight here from Stuart Shneiderman’s essay “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?” that may give a little scientific heft to the point we’re trying to make regarding why women can’t “detatch their emotions from intimate relationships as easily as men” — tear down this wall, Mr. Wonderful! — and vive la différence:
I have occasionally suggested that when teachers and therapists try to make men more sensitive, more empathic, and more deeply feeling beings, they are effectively refusing to accept boys and men for what they are. They are trying, through psychological and other means, to make men more like women…
All of which is to say that I was shocked to read yesterday about experiments in Germany and the United Kingdom where men were treated with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin.
What is oxytocin? It is a hormone that men and women possess, but that women possess in larger quantities. According to the article, it triggers labor pains, helps mothers to bond with their babies, and produces enhanced sensitivity and empathy.
We delved into the earth-shaking implications of the presence or absence of that hormone in early development in our July 2004 post “Oxytocin dearest.” But back to Shneiderman:
The article fails to mention that when a woman has a sexual experience her body produces extra oxytocin, thereby drawing her closer to her lover. Researchers call oxytocin the “cuddle hormone.”
Oxytocin is one of the primary reasons why women who make a habit of hooking up cannot detach their emotions from their sexual experience as easily as men can.
Forget about making a habit of hooking up. It’s part of what it is to be a woman. Or so we think. It’s why on some important level we don’t quite get the men we love, and they don’t quite get us. Or so we think.
Not unrelated: “Do conservative women prefer macho men?”
From the time I was about three years old, I’ve been chubby. That’s just how I’ve rolled (literally). I’ve never hated my body, but I’ll admit that I’ve never felt entirely comfortable, either (but who is, right?). Growing up, I learned to embrace it. Chubbiness was more than just an exterior attribute- it became a full blown identity. I imagine that initially, at least, it was an act of self-defense; a way to protect myself from the onslaught of self-hate that surrounds us as women every day. All the,
“OMG, I hate my thighs!” And, “Jesus, I was so BAD today, I ate a cupcake!” can be pretty oppressive after a while. But quickly my response to every comment or criticism became,
“Well, I’m chubby and I’ve never had a problem getting mine, if you know what I mean…” (AKA, I always found it easy to break off a piece of ass, or date, or both).
The reaction to the frankness (and comedy of it) was amazing. People immediately eased about ten notches in front of my eyes. Laughing (at/with me) lightened the issue for everyone. I could literally see women’s shoulders relax as they gave themselves a break for a minute. That was addictive. And it also shut them up (thank god).
Eventually, this self-defense mechanism became a part of everything I did. I was obsessed with the way that us white women (let’s be real) torture ourselves about being thin. Hearing my boss say once at work, “Oh my god, I’m 135 pounds. I have to go on a diet” threw me into a rage. I felt like it was my personal problem to take on, because if I didn’t, I’d go crazy.
As I’ve gotten a little older (oy), I’ve realized that not only is conquering this phenomenon woman by woman an impossible endeavor, but it leaves one very important person out of the equation… me. What do I want for myself, for my body? Do I need to be focusing on all of these other women just to avoid focusing on myself?
So, sitting in my doctor’s office a few months ago, I asked her if it’s true that women’s metabolisms change around thirty (people kept warning me- fucking assholes- and I was trying to get some evidence to disprove them). She lowered my medical chart and looked me dead in the eyes. “Ooooohhhhhhhh yeah.” She said. And she seemed kind of sad.
This got me thinking… is it time to deal with my body? To look into separating what I want for others (for them to shut the fuck up about how fat they are) and what I want for myself (to have the kind of life I want, to feel good about my body)? The whole thing made me feel old and boring, but I guess the answer was yes. It was time for that.
About a month and a half later I started the diet I’m on. For inquiring minds, it’s the Dr. Cohen diet. It’s based on personal blood analysis (not the blood type diet) and human growth hormone research (in conjunction with insulin and seratonin). It’s definitely restrictive, and you sign up in 12 week increments. Google it if you want more deets. So far I’ve lost more than 10% of my body weight.
I’m gonna’ go ahead and opt out of any (Feministing-esque) apology about being fat-positive AND on a diet, because A) I don’t give a fuck, and B) Who isn’t hypocritical?
But I do wonder… what will happen to that fat identity I’ve built up over all these years now that I’m doing something I used to hate? So far I don’t feel a war raging inside, but I’m not so sure about the back-lash from others yet…
While I believe that dieting and being fat-positive aren’t mutually exclusive, I know others will question me. I guess the good news is that nothing has really changed about the way I feel- I want women to feel good about their bodies without being mindlessly critical (of themselves or others).
But, change is hard, and nobody’s perfect (even this Jew, shockingly). When you’ve been one thing to people for such long a long time, it’s hard (for many) to shift and balance the change.
I guess I wish I could ask Michael Jackson. For some reason, I think he’d have some insight…
(originally posted on Shady Sadie).
Marcus Buckingham at HuffPo provides an overview of the research suggesting both that women’s life satisfaction has declined since second-wave feminism opened up so many more opportunities for us, and that women get unhappier as we get older, while men get happier. Buckingham has his own theory about why, which he won’t unveil till next week (meanwhile, he pitches his own book, hinting that it contains the antidote).
The Love Goddess thinks the latter unhappiness, at least, comes because society doesn’t value older women, and because women who have been pouring out care on others all their lives know that no one is likely to do the same for them.
These are really two separate issues, so let’s take them one at a time.
As for unhappiness unexpectedly keeping pace with opportunity, if this is even true — I can’t even begin to relate to it personally — I think some tough love is called for. Opportunity brings with it anxiety, stress, and responsibility. It requires a kind of worldly maturity and direct exposure to rough-and-tumble that women were protected from as long as they were sequestered in the moist nursery of “women’n’children.” And it also means you dare to want more, much more, so you are likelier to fall short of your aspirations. That’s as it should be. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs (well, um, no; that’s a whole other issue for women, as I hope Sara of Shady Sadie will soon post here); to paraphrase Robert Browning, “Ah, but a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Men have lived with this inevitable shortfall for millennia; women are just discovering it. No, you can’t have it all! But that’s no excuse not to try!
I still remember the first time I read Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, in my twenties. What I remember so very vividly about that novel is that the narrator, protagonist, heroine, whatever you call her, described her loving and sexually fulfilled relationship with her husband as a long sleep. I don’t even remember how that relationship ended, but at the end of the novel, she is involved with a crazy man named Saul Green — based on Lessing’s real-life lover, radical writer Clancy Sigal — who keeps shocking her out of her desire to fall into that trance again. As a result, through great pain, he forces her to consciousness, gives her herself. Not exactly “happiness,” but maybe worth more. It’s not incidental that that was the part of the story written in the golden notebook.
Now on to the aging thing.
A big part of most women’s power is our sexual attraction for men, as women briefly tried to deny during the heady early days of hairy legs and baggy overalls and “love me for my soul,” soon to rush back to “If you’ve got it, it’s masochistic not to flaunt it!” It’s fair to say that the vast majority of women now blend their beauty and nubility and sexuality into their creative and professional power, just as men do their sexual potency. And while men’s hydraulic potency may falter, their desire and their fertility, unlike women’s, never do.
Another big part of most women’s power is motherhood, or at least the potential for it — and even if you’re not a mother, take it from me, you’ll be seen as a mother and cast in a mothering role, because that’s such a huge part of what Woman means to men, to everybody.
It’s arguable that with all these powers, in addition to the powers of mind and spirit that we share, women have more going for them than men. The price we pay for that abundance is that we lose two-thirds of it at menopause. And we mourn it. Duh! Men can substitute money and Viagra for youth without making themselves quite as ridiculous as the superannuated cougar buying herself a young companion. Nature gives and nature takes away.
Older women still have a lot going for them. Us. What Margaret Mead called “post-menopausal zest” really does exist; it’s like being twelve again, with that pure passion for absorption in the world that was lost for forty years in a voluptuous haze of lust and fecundity. On top of that, there are children and their amazing attraction to grandmother figures, which offers you a whole second (and in my case, first) wind on mothering if you want it. Anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and others think that grandmothers greatly enhanced child survival, and that’s why we live so long past menopause; that this bond was even crucial to human evolution. There it is for the taking, again, if you want it — little kids opening up and reaching out to you.
The unhappiness of female aging is partly legitimate fear of being alone, and awareness of shallow society’s disdain. But it’s also partly just a narcissistic wound. And to that part I say: mourn it, and then get over it.