A Series of Lamentations: Self-Love and Being a Woman

If you are here because you read the title and thought that I was going to embark on an intricate journey of self-discovery and ultimately, public discussion of an internalised regret at having spent the majority of my twenties attempting to perfect my masturbatory habits, then you are, unfortunately, very much mistaken. If you are here for anything that may potentially resemble masturbation, or the desire to read one girl’s tale of sexual awakening, then you should leave, right now. This is a series of lamentations and I, admittedly, have nothing to lament about regarding that particular element of self-love: I’m awesome and I get shit DONE. No, this is a little bit of an insight into the life of someone who was given all of the opportunities to become a self-involved, worshipper of one’s self, but someone who, through life experiences, hasn’t taken those steps and has suffered exponentially as a result.

There is no real method of denial for anyone to exercise when I say that, as a woman, we are not taught to love ourselves at all. From the moment we are catapulted from the warm bosom of childhood into the cruel and harsh world of puberty, with tiny lumps growing out of our previously flat chests and hair where we never thought hair would grow (which we are then immediately taught to shave, wax or make deals with the devil to keep it off, right there and then), and blood torturing our crotches on a monthly basis, all in the name of eventual reproduction, (because, there’s not even a choice in the matter, we all just have to suffer regardless of what our life choices end up being. Lesbian? I don’t care, PERIOD. Double period, because you may eventually live with a woman and you’ll have them at the same time and not only will your crotch be bleeding, but you’ll be attempting valiantly not to enter into some kind of Hunger Games style lifestyle for the entirety of your period which only lasts about seven days, but seems to last lifetimes in your pants. I mean, we never even got the opportunity to ask Mother Nature about periods, you know? Like, I would have appreciated sitting down with her and being like ‘so, here’s the situation – I’m eleven and I’m not really sure where my life is going to take me, I might not want children in the future, they are small and the idea of housing a tiny human in my uterus for nine months seems an unnecessary downfall of my gender, especially seen as how I will then have to shove it out of a hole that doesn’t look big enough to push a giant head out of and I am sure older me would agree, that I could probably not fit a giant head IN there, so where’s the logic, sister? WHERE?’), we have had no real control over our bodies or states of mind; it has all been done for us via the over-arching glue of the media – keeping women in a state of perpetual self-doubt since its inception. YAY!

Admittedly, growing up, I was given all the fodder to potentially become someone who promoted love of herself in every possible form; my parents were my perpetual cheerleaders and there wasn’t a concept of ‘no’ or ‘this isn’t possible’ within our family. My sister decided when she was little she wanted to learn origami, leaned towards my mother one lunch time and stated, “I want to learn pornography!” and kudos to my mother, she didn’t say that she couldn’t, only asked where she’d learned such a grown up word. The only time I ever really heard ‘no’ was when I decided I wanted to be a pop star and actress, but that’s something I’ve covered and generally have come to terms with (weeps). It wasn’t until we became teenagers and allowed external factors to govern our opinions of ourselves, did our family dynamic really change. Whilst we were never told that we couldn’t do something, I remember our parents’ perception of what others thought of us was greater than it had been before, which I blame entirely on the fact that my parents were raising two females of a very similar age – if my parents had sons, there wouldn’t have been any issues over what they were wearing, or who they were hanging out with. The general adage, boys will be boys would have meant that any sons of my parents wouldn’t have hit the barriers my sister and I did when we were teenagers. I guess it’s the same notion as society teaching girls how not to get sexually assaulted, rather than teaching boys not to sexually assault; my parents taught us how to adhere to gender stereotypes and behave in a manner that one would deem as ladylike, thus hoping to potentially decrease the potential of anything terrible happening to us, so I totally get it and I’m not trying to say that my parents did anything wrong at all – because they didn’t and I thank them every day for giving me the best life I could have wished for – but, their actions were only symptomatic of the society we were all born into: That women need to behave in a certain way in order to ascertain their true meanings in life… marriage and babies. And that is pushed onto us as much as it possibly can as soon as puberty rears its bitch of a head; we need to find a man and keep him in order for us to fulfil our biological duty. They were taught by society and the media on how to appropriately parent as much as we’re taught how to dress and how to truly satisfy our man in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Granted, my sister and I never bought into any of that shit. I decided that I wouldn’t rush the marriage and baby thing, because there is SO much do in life before I have to settle down and have kids and whilst there is always the tick tock of my biological clock, that the media is always telling me to listen to, it’s not something that bothers me. My sister decided straight up NO WAY I AM NOT HAVING KIDS I HATE THEM THEY ARE SO SMALL AND NEEDY I JUST DON’T WANT THEM and has only in the past year or so slightly changed her mind (as long as she never has girls) because she fell in love, but before that we all pictured her as some kind of spinster, living somewhere covered in televisions, game consoles and random Legend of Zelda merchandise. She would be the auntie to my children and they’d be the only kids she ever liked, but they’d be scared of her because she is a little foreboding. But, I was still the weaker one of the two and fell victim to a lot of aggression because of my independent nature… so much so that I entirely changed for a long period of time.

I’m not going to go into that element of my life in too much detail, but I did get to the point where I genuinely thought I was deserving of all the aggression, of all the ‘why aren’t you pregnant, what is wrong with you’ type conversations and a lifestyle that really didn’t cater to my needs or desires at all – my passion for writing was non-existent, because it wasn’t supported, I couldn’t even watch what I wanted to on television and my happiness hinged on the happiness of another woman; if she wasn’t happy, or if she decided I was in her bad books, then my boyfriend would act accordingly and it was usually to the detriment of my state of mind, my happiness and my emotional well-being. So, this is what I lament most out of all of my series of lamentations; I grieve for the woman who was given every opportunity in life; who did so well at school, college and university and could have explored the world, but instead ended up in a relationship that she wasn’t enjoying as it was happening, forced into being with someone who put her down at every opportunity, who’s opinion of women was so fucked up because he was raised by someone who kept him sucking at the teat of motherhood well into his adult life and who’s only real goal in life was to get to the pub; he was raised to be a misogynist and any woman who exercised any form of opinion that differed from mammy dearest’s, was punished. It was your typical, run of the mill, Norman Bates style relationship between mammy dearest and her little boy. In hindsight, I was clearly a mentalist and I am genuinely ashamed to have been a part of that misogynistic lifestyle that allowed me to become stuck and think that there was something wrong with me for not wanting to have his babies at the age of twenty one (or, ever, just to be clear).

I have learned some valuable lessons from this relationship, though and have since become a self-sufficient, adult woman who has learned from those mistakes and become someone who is pursuing her passions and living a life that I choose to lead. I have a boyfriend who isn’t necessarily a feminist, but someone who believes my passions and interests are just as important as his own and deserving of pursuing, so I get to write in abundance and be in a relationship where I’m not pressured to be anything other than myself. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating and definitely something I intend to keep up in my late twenties, because what is the point in a series of lamentations, without attempting to either celebrate my future, or make plans involving handsome beards?

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