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Material Girl

When I received a corporate pat-on-the-back (with a financial award), my mother suggested that I spend it on jewelery instead of frittering it away on clothes, books and shoes. Mum still believes in jewelery being a good investment. It took months but I finally agreed. I went diamond-shopping.

It was not the first major purchase I’ve ever made, not even the first time I’ve bought jewellery. On my first job, I saved up to buy my father a new cellphone and my mother, a diamond ring. That was a funny feeling. A memorable feeling, a funny one and one I’ll treasure all my life…the exhilarating thrill that comes from being able to buy something for the people you love, who have provided for you, all your life.

But when I went big-purchase-shopping again, a few years later, it just was different. A different kind of different. Inside my head, despite all the freedom of financial independence and mental release, my liberation has a few gaps in it. Like little stitches still binding me to old ways of being, long after I’ve snipped away the life I want to wear.

Diamonds are usually received as gifts, not bought for oneself. Gifted by a man…a father, a brother, a lover, a husband. If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, it’s because those sparkly stones carry the monetary value that they were bought for, but also the power of being cherished and indulged by men. For years, diamonds have been financially tangible tokens of men’s allegiance to those women. They continue to be so.

Only, these diamonds don’t represent the men who lavish their affections on me. They remind me of everything that I’ve worked for and achieved. The power to buy a diamond as well as the right to wear one that is truly my own. It’s just odd how long it took me to accept the feeling. To not feel guilty about lavishing it on myself, not feel obligated to spending it on someone else or something more important/intelligent, not wonder if brandishing my economic power made me seem like even more of a man-hating feminist than people usually accuse me of being.

It took me a long time to accept that it was okay to buy a diamond for myself and feel good about it. Newfound power doesn’t come easy; it’s scary. I actually took about a month, after agreeing to actually bring home the diamonds. I browsed online for different brands (and read a great deal about blood-free diamonds). I contemplated the merits of a pendant-and-chain versus a ring. I visited several stores and compared prices. I sketched out designs and pored over them. I considered local ‘known’ stores versus big jewelery brands. And finally I went and picked up a pair of earrings. Tiny diamond chiplings fashioned into three petals, with a thin golden stem wound around them. I did it all on my own.

Then I wore my new earrings to work the next day. For about ten minutes my entire body hummed in excitement, wondering if anyone would say anything. Nobody noticed anything different, no one even tossed the odd compliment my way. But suddenly, I realised, I didn’t care. I knew and that’s all that mattered.

I’ve had the earrings for a couple of years now. I wear them when the outfit and occasion suits them. But sometimes, just because I want a reminder of what I can do for myself.


This is a revised version of an earlier post. A version also appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Future Fathers – 2

Fatherhood seems to be the theme for this week, after my Electra-Oedipus discussion last week. After observing the behaviour of emperor penguins, I now discover that fish exhibit loving paternal behaviour as well. Today’s fact tells us that:

“A father sea catfish keeps the eggs of his young in his mouth until they are ready to hatch. He will not eat until his young are born, which may take several weeks.”

Brad retorts to my earlier post with:

“For a male penguin, it is normal basic instinct to share parental responsibility. And basic instinct precedes their lower (relative to humans) intelligence.

When it comes to the male species of humans, most males use their intelligence to be less-caring, lazy, irresponsible, egoistic, chauvinistic and other not-so-fine virtues. Intelligence, after all, is a neutral capacity of thought and reason, and works both ways, for good or for bad.”

The assumption here is that intelligence leads to the ability to monitor and control emotions. Personally I always thought the two of these were seperate. Intelligence only gives you an egoistic sense of control and maybe you do manage to control your behaviour well. But what you feel is just what you feel, isn’t it (even if you don’t act on it)?

I’m sparking off an age-old question of whether men care as much as women do. As my last post muses, perhaps a man is capable of being as good a parent as a mother is, in a different way. I just find it difficult to actually visualize that happening…..not about men being good fathers (I’ve said this after all), but today’s men being capable of deep emotion for any human being but themselves.

I have to add that I saw an ad on TV yesterday that really touched me deep down. It was for a digicam (I think!) showing a father running up and just missing the sight of his baby’s first steps on the beach. Later that evening sees him sitting broodily till wifey calls him in to see the moment captured for posterity on film. The ad ends with the father proudly re-running the clip all night to watch his tot take her first steps.

Yes, very cute. So are today’s men only capable of caring for a human being they’ve helped create? I’m apt to think that even this so fashionable trend now of being a good dad is just a by-product of the media hyped sensitive, metrosexual man. I mean…it just goes so well with the ‘Complete Man’ image, doesn’t it? It’s fashionable to cootchie-coo over the little one so they do. But is it an inherent feeling? Ah, but I’m just an old cynic. Prove me wrong.

Future Fathers

My fact for the day tells me that:

A father Emperor penguin withstands the Antarctic cold for 60 days or more to protect his eggs, which he keeps on his feet, covered with a feathered flap. During this entire time he doesn’t eat a thing. Most father penguins lose about 25 pounds while they wait for their babies to hatch. Afterward, they feed the chicks a special liquid from their throats. When the mother penguins return to care for the young, the fathers go to sea to eat and rest.

Is it possible that the human male could learn something from this? Maybe I’m just too cynical but I keep wondering how a man who can’t care about me longer than a few minutes is ever going to care for something that takes 9 months to create and a lifetime to nurture. But perhaps a father is just as different from a boyfriend as a mother is from a girlfriend.

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