I looked back at the date of my last blog post. It was July 2017. I remember writing it. I remember feeling very strongly about the subject. But I also remember feeling tired. Was it tired? Or a resistance in myself maybe is a better word. The whole conversation had gotten exhausting.
I hadn’t done my talk, GOOD GIRLS AREN’T FUNNY, since 3 days before the election. Yeah, THAT election. It was one of my absolute favorite things to do and yet I didn’t want to. I was encouraged by friends that I “should”! “It’s needed more than ever!”
But I couldn’t. I felt…something…was missing. Was I defeated? I didn’t know. It felt too raw. Too painful to talk about. Everything that we had feared was ACTUALLY true. It was actually worse.
Interestingly…3 months after my last post #MeToo hit. October 2017.
With it came sweeping change and a reckoning I’d never experienced in my lifetime. It was deep and hit hard. It took down the good along with the bad and the ugly in some cases. But LOTS of bad and ugly got dealt a blow I never thought I’d see, much less what THEY must have thought THEY’D ever see. Up until then they were untouchable. I’m not even sure some of them knew what they were doing was as awful as it was. But the lid was ripped off and this was NOT going to stop.
It ALSO made me look at JUST HOW MUCH of the patriarchal values of my own self and women I had internalized. Accepted and taken as mine, as true. And what we all had become numb too. It felt like we were all waking up and a thick haze was lifting. The damage, violence, cruelty, unfairness, and disgrace were everywhere. It had BEEN there all along. How did we not see it? Hear it? How did we not FEEL it? (well, in fact we did…which makes it all the more painful and horrific)
We all know what has unfolded since…some have personally experienced more change than others of us, but no one can deny it’s not part of the fabric of our world right now.
What we do in this new climate is still being formed. We have gotten more and more clear on what we DO NOT want any more of. The next step, as some are pointing out, is more precarious. What DO we want? And who is the WE? I don’t think we can assume “WOMEN” are one unit here. The results of how women voted in 2016 and 2018 show that there is a still a huge divide in what women want.
But that’s ok. We don’t ALL have to go to make change happen and stick.
BUT. We do need to know WHAT WE WANT, those of us who are vehemently rejecting this horrific ‘norm’ and everything that has been exposed and continues to be exposed. And this is where I get REALLY fired up. Because part of the reason I feel we have had a difficult time expressing, demanding, and creating what we WANT is that historically we, as women, have never ever been allowed that privilege. We have been handed, decade after decade, the list of options to choose from. We are NOT the creators of that list and maybe we never have been. EVER. (see “Creation of Patriarchy” by Gerda Lerner) What sometimes feels like ‘freedom’ is that we have chosen off that list. But it’s not our list…so how free is it really? (ginormous breast implants, for example) Or, when a group of women push through and DEMAND their options be included on the list, they get SO MUCH PUSH BACK it’s hard to hold almost any ground. (see “Backlash” by Susan Faludi) Not that long ago, women who made demands or chose ‘outside’ the list, were punished in a litany of ways.
So, in a way, I think what we are up against is that very internalization of the values of the past, the misogynistic values that see women capable of a very narrow set of actions and behaviors. (One NOT being the capacity to make choices about her OWN body, for example.) I call a facet of this internalization The Good Girl. And, you guessed it, she was HANDED to us. And we more or less had to choose to become her or risk what lied outside the acceptable norm (being marriage, wifedom and motherhood. The end.) – the other options were horrifically grim. If you watched MAD MEN you saw exactly how the ‘tropes’ of acceptable roles women were allowed to be played out as recently as the 1960’s, week after week. Respectable wife, slut at the office, frigid bitch. The end. And that was the list for affluent white women.
If we are going to make the absolute MOST out of this moment – which seems to be WHY this moment is upon us and with the force and intensity it has with it – we need to get beyond The Good Girl, pronto. SHE does not make demands for herself or women-kind. SHE does not rock the boat. SHE needs to be liked, play nice, do it right, follow the rules, and lives off affirmation from those in power. HER power is dependent on those who wield it. And we have seen just how flexible and generous those in power have been. So…they’re not handing it to us which means we need to build what we want ourselves. And if we don’t ALLOW ourselves to WANT, if we don’t allow ourselves to be PISSED OFF (see “Good and Mad” by Rebecca Traister) at how unjust this is, then how will the change we KNOW is possible and desperately needed actually get here??!!
We need to go beyond our Good Girl to another part of each of us. I call that part the “FUCK IT”. And once she’s in your driver’s seat, there’s no going back.