I have been thinking lately about how I often feel about myself, divided. Torn between wanting to embrace my own thoughts, and feeling alone, feeling strange. Because it has always been apparent to me that other people do not feel some things nearly as deeply as I do. When they see an injured person, or a starved animal it passes them by. “Oh well,” “How sad,” They don’t rage, lit like the firework shooting up into the sky and explode. How dare they!? Inside of me there is something, a pounding heartbeat that drives towards change. Change for people, for those who can’t defend themselves. Not out of pity, but out of justice. Out of knowing somewhere that no being deserves that suffering, and that we are all just doing the best we can. But that is no reason to accept injustice, it is a motivation to stand against it. To refuse to be quiet, to accept what others thing is the essential way we must be. To demand my place, and a place for anyone who wants it. For the man to stay with his childen, and the woman to create a magnificent machine that can change our world. Living as a firecracker is not easy, it is not a choice, but a type of soul if there is such a thing. I don’t know if I would wish it on anyone, becuase as much as people say they adore the brave, in some way they don’t. It is not easy to have the courage to stand up, and it is even harder to see someone else do what you know is right. People supress, and fear the brave, the demanding because they are unwilling to express that part of themselves that knows right from wrong. Don’t be that person, and don’t ever be afraid to shine your light, to explode in the sky when there is something that demands it. Live joyfully, and powerfully, because there is no other way for you to live. Never, ever give in to those who are too terrified of their own brilliance, and thus want to hide yours. It is not an easy life, being a firework, firecracker. A brilliant star demanding the shadows retreat, not by the light of the sun, but through sheer unadulterated effort and devotion. To sacrafice everything inside yourself to that light, to making the world a better place…it is not an easy way to live, but it is a good one. Maybe, a great one.
I have often thought that the ability that one has, is based on refusal to give up. It isn’t something necessarily based in always “succeeding”, often successful people fail. The difference is learning to fail well, and fail often, to take the risk to say “I will go, and I will speak, despite the fact that others will not and will criticize me” Because what more is there?
“Whatever your dreams are, begin it, boldness has power and magic in it” Goethe
This quote has stuck with me since childhood. Boldness, is how I live, to what I cling. Because…life is short, and it is mine.
!hen one fails, does badly in a class, closes a business, divorces, downsizes…you can’t stop there. If you have a job that is terrible, and you hate, bear through it. Hold on, but do not surrender to it, do not give in and think that is all you are capable of. Grit your teeth and snarl, spit if you have to, know that pain is temporary and that if it is your end, why not go out trying? Why not give in to every ability you have?
This advice coming from someone who is young, and has had lots of help is biased. I haven’t had a lot of the problems others do, though I have had health issues and my devotion to “trying” is what got me through that. Understanding that as long as you are alive, as long as you can try, give it your all. Whatever it is, because that’s what you are here for. To try, to contribute, to make things, to create. Nothing more, or less, humanity has no other purpose. We are what we give to the world, giving as in a choice of compassionate joy, not obligation. And it is a joy, to make something, a child, a painting, a story, an engine…what more do humans do? Than make, and give to one another.
I have had anxiety from a young age; for whatever reason some people are more prone to it that others, yet the majority seem to be women. This whole discussion might well apply to other “minority” groups as well, people of color, anyone of alternative sexual orientation or gender identification. There are other groups who face this as well who I might not specifically identify here, I do not mean that as an affront. I do not mean to speak for these groups either; I just want to acknowledge that they face significant sources of anxiety and division from society as a whole.
Now that I am older and more vested in thinking about these things rather than avoiding them, I think my anxiety is partly because my personality is so contrary to what society defines my gender as. “Feminine” means “Submissive” of which I am not the latter. “Feminine” means “weak” of which I have never shared. Luckily I have strong women in my life who have always assisted in me maintaining my sense of self; yet as a young woman this is hard. When you are what you are, and this goes against what your society approves of, and encourages…it creates an inner sense of wrongness. You feel as if you have failed, just by being, as a philosopher I can think of nothing that is more sad and killing for the spirit.
My body is on display despite the fact that I don’t think it marks who I am anymore than it would for a man. It is a part, but it is not for anyone but myself. Puberty for women is so hard (and for other minorities) because society forces on us very harsh definitions of what is, or is not beautiful. Women of color are told to change their natural hair style, some lighten their skin, if you identify as another gender than your sex this is ignored or lawfully discriminated against.
Why would one not feel anxious?
The answer is to admit these things exist, and to say loudly, that I am not wrong for being different; and to deny those who say that we owe it to their sensibilities to suppress ourselves. Get over it. It is not your choice to say who is right, or wrong, or good or bad; for being who they are. That any person, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, androgynous, and all other versions are as perfected as they are. That our varieties are our strengths; that the time of conforming to what society judges as appropriate for my sex is over. For anyone’s sex, is over. If a man desires to wear a dress to an office meeting that is his right, if I wish to be bald that is mine.
This anxiety plagues women our whole lives, as mothers (I am not good enough!) as workers, (I don’t deserve a raise) and as people.
I desire nothing more, or less than to be judged for the content of my character; rather than my gender, sex, skin-tone, nationality, or religion. I demand this as the foundation for human rights; and request nothing more than the rights we all have inherent.
I will be marrying my fiance this August 10th. This is an interesting position to be in because I am a female philosopher and have a very strong sense of an independent self. My feelings, thoughts, and drives differ markedly from my partner’s. He is more conservative in his desires; he does not want to change the world, but supports me in my effort to do so. In our society getting married is a major mile-stone to which you are agreeing to the social contract. People make many assumptions; because I will be “his wife” that I will do, or will not do certain things. This is the issue which I am dealing with; because I will not be constrained by those limitations.
The only limitations I will agree too are those which we, as a couple have set out. He has never demanded that I cook for him, do his laundry, clean the house. I have never demanded to be supported purely by his financial means. My strong personality is indeed a huge marker of who I am, and if he is going to marry me he is well aware of that fact.
Society, however does not see it this way. I’m sure I will be questioned for keeping my own name.
This act is more because I am of higher education than him, I will likely publish under my own name. He is not the one who has earned those degrees; why should I give up the name I have put on my proof of education? I am his partner, his equal. His love. I would not demand he give up his name for me, and he understands and is respectful that I will keep my own last name.
This is the name I was born with, it is the one I grew with; and developed into the person that he loves. I will not give it up because society deems that my “duty” to be his wife. I am not property, my self belongs, to myself.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
There is a stark difference between a life that is driven by compassion, and one that is driven by fear.
The former creates a person whose happiness is brought forth by helping other people in the world. It is the instance of the person who chooses to volunteer to rescue animals for their living, despite the fact that others think they should be put down.The teacher who gifts light to young minds and creates in them a better future, despite facing the fact that they are disrespected at every turn. An artist who makes things of beauty, taking the emotions that are inside and bringing them outside; the world is better for their existence. A mother, or father, who devotes themselves to the children they’ve made and create their best future by not dimming their eyes with their own fears and terror. Allowing those children to find their happiness, and the freedom to become people not bound by others expectations.
When they leave this world (like we all do) their actions will continue to flow outward to benefit and change the universe long after they are gone. That is the gift of having, and embracing compassion. It is not easy, all people have to deal with the fact that life is hard, we all suffer. We all feel pain, death, old age, sickness, these are things that weigh upon us all. Why then do some people continue to act from their heart? Why can they accept the weight of these realities, and yet give. It is because they understand the primal truth that all beings suffer as they do, and that allowing suffering to corrupt. Allowing that pain to make you into a fearful, hateful thing, is a worse fate than the suffering itself.
A life of fear, is the life of the racist. They define themselves only as being “better” than another through contrast, their fears define who they are and their contribution to this life is hatred. They have no essence of their own. A man who dominates his wife and hurts her spirit does so because he fears her, or what she represents. Something beautiful that might leave him (and indeed should). The banker who makes loans that destroy other peoples lives, the person obsessed with vanity, with possessions, with success.
All of these people are motivated by their fears, when they go…when their time on this earth is done. What will they leave behind? What kind of inner life have they had? A sad one. I feel…sad for their lives, because what they could have been will never be. They’ve given into the illusion that by turning into their suffering, and fears, they will control them. They might have made books, maybe money for their families, but the good they could have done will not exist and a vapid hole will rest there instead.
What a sad kind of a life.
Selfish thoughts serve no-one in the end, you are what good you attempt to do in the world.You are, when you realize that you aren’t. When you allow your heart to motivate your actions, the innermost self expands outwards to touch others and becomes a part of them. You, the deepest form of you, come to be in the universe in a way that all beings should envy.
Compassionate life, is the best life. A Just Life. If I can end my days having made the lives of other people better, maybe making them feel less pain. Understand the challenges they face, then my life will have had the most meaning possible for a human being.
As a philosopher talking about my personal uterus is kind of something that might sound obtuse, but think of it as a starting point of my discussion. Some people (men mostly) would say this is gross, disgusting, and my response is that that their judgement comes from the fact that their bodies are not judged in accordance with the usefulness it has to others. Their body always belongs to them.
I use this starting point because it is the most personal: what is more personal than my very body? As a woman this body, my body weighs “me” down. I am weighed down by the expectations of what my body “should do” according to society. Receiving all kinds of images of what it should look like (for men, never for myself), what it should do (bear children: otherwise why do I exist?)
In society two strong powerful narratives arise about a woman’s body that it should
1) be shaped and groomed in accordance with the desires of men: no matter if this goes against natural body-type or the desires of the person who owns the body in question- who lives in it.
2) that I will bear children: this assumes that I a) want to bear children and that b) I am healthy enough to do so, if not I lose my say and what small amount of worth society sees in me.
A woman who is not ornamental for men, and is not a mother is not a woman according to society as a whole. What my body can actually do makes no difference, if it holds a mind that is capable of learning, and doing fantastic things? Useless.
Women are at once constantly criticized, defined, and wrapped up in our bodies, but society never admits they are ours.
The whole abortion narrative is a good explanation of this: when a woman asserts her will over her body to say what, and who may be in it, anger arises. How dare she turn against her “natural” function? As sexual container for the man, and as child-bearer for the offspring.
This saddens me, because it is not who I am. My body has never, and will never belong to anyone but myself. I claim it, like I claim my mind, and my heart. I doubt I will ever have children, my body is not made for it despite having a uterus, my heart too weak. In a way this might offer me more freedom: even most pro-“life” people are “willing” to turn a blind eye to my need to avoid bearing a child, I’d likely die, and it would suffer.
Why is a woman’s suffering never enough to stop this pain? Why are we defined by and contained in our bodies, when our minds can do so much? These bodies are various, and beautiful, but not for men, not for women. For each woman, whose body belongs only to her. The disabled, the feeble, the old, the ugly, these are all beautiful beings because they exist and have spirits and wills of their own. Their objectivity is worth as much as any mans. My objectivity is worth as much as any mans, and perhaps more, because I have constantly fought the definitions of a society which at its core wants to make me into something submissive, and into a possession.
They are powerful women. All of them. All of them are demanding respect, and in that they are evil, and corrupt.
Hell hath no fury like a female Disney villain scorned. On May 30, Angelina Jolie will turn into a fire-breathing dragon to punish the court that didn’t invite her to Princess Aurora’s christening in Maleficent. Seems like an overreaction to being socially snubbed? Not in the land of Disney where attempting to murder someone over not getting an invite is the norm.
That’s right. All that drama with Ariel’s voice and Cinderella’s shoe and Aurora’s long nap could have been avoided had someone just extended Ursula, Lady Tremaine and Maleficent a little hospitality and social grace. While male villains get to scheme and murder in an attempt to become king (Scar, Jafar, Hades), to win a woman’s heart (Gaston) or to avenge the loss of their hand (Captain Hook), women villains go ballistic because of social anxieties.
Though this may seem sexist — okay, it is actually sexist —…
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