Today two things happened that I want to write about, but I just can’t quite articulate. One was when a friend of mine was going on about how she was ten pounds overweight for her height and how she was determined to lose that weight, you know, for her health. She’s not the kind of girl who has big body image issues, but sometimes she says some stuff that makes me want to smuggle her out of the country and put her… I don’t know where… someplace without televisions or other fucked up women or men who feel fine about teaching her the meaning of the word “asshole” so that she doesn’t internalize this idea that she should always strive to be smaller and weaker and less noticeable than she is. The other was when a friend of mine called up to complain about some guy at work and, as she was explaining her predicament, it was clear that she was trying to show proper deference for his position and he was reading that as weakness and her as someone who didn’t need respect, but instead the guiding hand of a wise teacher.
And I just keep thinking that it’s like we run along pretty okay through life until something happens, and for most of the women I know, it seems to have really kicked into gear in junior high, where you are just hobbled by the bullshit women are just supposed to take.
Someone smarter than me has probably already written about this at length, but it’s like we, as a society, are constantly enacting these patterns that, if were particularized to a specific family, we would recognize as abusive. And maybe that’s how you understand it, that it’s right when we are old enough to realize that things are truly fucked up, that we cope with that knowledge by assuming that it’s our fault, that we bring it on ourselves, and if only we could figure out what the fuckers wanted, we could end the abuse.
So we go about making ourselves seems as weak and harmless as possible so that we won’t draw attention to ourselves, especially attention that might be negative. It’s like we’re trying to send this message: no need to hurt us, we’re already hurting ourselves. Move along.
I do that, too. I’m not trying to set myself up as someone who’s better than all that nonsense. I’m not.
But I see it. I see it all around me. I just don’t know for sure what steps we can take to act against it.