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Feminine Mystique Is Masculine Bullshit

I find it strange when men say things like “Women are complicated. They are difficult to understand.” I am a woman, a rational one. And I know I am no more or less complex than an average human being. Some things about the way I live my life are different from the way men live theirs. This is because while I inhabit the same planet, there are restrictions, offences and dangers posed to me, that they do not face. This does not make me harder to understand.

I know a lot of women who say things like this too. I believe every single one of them has been conditioned to allow herself to be subjugated. Being deified or mystiqued (yes, I made that word up. Consider it the opposite of ‘demystified’) is just as disrespectful to women as abuse and chauvinism. Saying ‘You are special’ is saying ‘You are not normal like me’. There is even a term for this. It’s called Androcentricism. I think of it as ‘Male-normative’ or ‘Being male is normal; all else is special cases’

Every human being tries to navigate their way through life, living it as close to what they want as possible. Women’s lives have numerous disruptions and barriers, because society does not allow us control over our lives. So a lot of women don’t believe they have any way to get what they want other than under the garb of mystery. And some of them are just comfortable enough with doing this because it doesn’t require them to apply themselves further and be direct. Women are just as selfish, lazy or petty as men are. It’s a human thing and I don’t see why it should be denied to women on account of their being women.

I think for most men, it’s easiest to slot women into narrow definitions — the whore, the homebody, the airhead, the vamp, wife material. And anything that doesn’t fit into these structures gets written off as the feminine mystique. It’s easier to do that than take the effort to understand why they behave the way they do. Perhaps it is also avoiding the fact that acknowleging a woman as an equal, nuanced human being will have mean recognising the unfair world that she lives in.

What’s interesting is the kind of men who say women are complicated are the same ones to deride me for how unlike a woman I am, how I’m ‘too direct’ or ‘too aggressive’ or ‘think I can just say anything’. Ever heard anybody tell a man that?

It’s not that women are difficult to understand. It’s that some men don’t want to acknowledge their gender privilege.

Angry Woman

Hello. I am an Angry Woman. This is not the same thing as Angry Girl that gives rise to a subculture of music and other pop references. It has only partly to do with my age. Because I’ve survived over a decade of adulthood as part of the discriminated gender, I’ve accumulated a few things, including a thicker skin.

I don’t like the term ‘weaker sex’. Of course it’s archaic and not quite true. And yet, I don’t believe that we are a strong sex. We certainly are the biggest discriminated-against minority in the world – half the population. Rape, violence, chauvinism, gender inequality at work, subjugation in social rituals and harassment are just some of the differential treatment meted out to us.

People don’t like me. They’ve learnt to detest hearing me speak because I only say things they don’t like. I behave like things are not okay, like the world ought to do something about it. I think it makes them slightly ashamed and fearful. So they cover it up by being mean to me, by running me down, by hurting me with condescension, taunts and injustice.

I’ve been beaten by people I loved and trusted. I’ve been forced to endure unwelcome attention from strangers and blamed for it. I’ve had to deal with men’s sexual advances far before I was ready and judged, abused and humiliated for not always going along. Also, for going along. I’ve been betrayed, cheated on and hurt with the propagators justifying their actions saying that I asked for it or that I deserved it. And I’ve been discredited, taunted, condescended to, laughed at and ostracized for talking about all these things. By the way, I’m Indian and we deify our women here. So domestic violence, dowry demands, public censure for having an opinion are very real to me.

But time hasn’t made my anger any less. That’s what makes me an Angry Woman. I don’t lash out in frustrated hurt as much now. That comes from disappointment, which comes from expecting goodness, justice and love. I know now the world does not like women and to be born one, is to have to accept that reality or suffer dire disappointment.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up my beliefs though. I still believe that I have the right to my own body, to my life choices, to my choice of partner, to my sexual activities, to my career, to my health, to my peace of mind, to my choice of dressing and to my schedules. I believe that I have the right to all of these in complete safety and respect and to face problems in these constitutes human rights violation. The world violates my fundamental rights and I don’t accept it.

True, this makes life harder for me. In all likelihood, I will never find a meaningful relationship with a man who loves and trusts me. I will struggle in my friendships as men and women both cut me down, driven by their personal agendas and demons. I will not tread a straight path to my career, as I have to stop to fend off attacks from people who are close to me as well as those who compete with me. But since the only alternative is to live an oppressive lie that life is good to me, a woman – something I have never learnt to do – I will persist.

As long as I stand strong – and I hope this is for as long as I live – I will not stoop to what my detractors do. I won’t cheat, lie to or betray the world around me because of my anger. I will also not fit into the conventional stereotypes. I will have my laughs, my joys, my pride and my life. By refusing to accept or play this game that doesn’t play fair, I intend to be a permanent thorn in the flesh of the status quo. I will probably not have an easy life but my word does and will continue to go out to other women, especially those younger than me. And the next generation will see more like me.

Consider yourself warned. This Angry Woman is not backing down.

Woman-power symbol (clenched fist in Venus sig...

Woman-power symbol (clenched fist in Venus sign). עברית: כוח נשים (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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