"Do this. Do this. Do this. Don't do this. You're not doing it right. Do it like this. I said, like this. Do this. Do this." The constant directing and scolding and reprimanding that starts early eradicates something in you, the rush of spontaneity, the impulse to have fun, to simply jump around and do nothing and be happy for no reason but being alive. The fear sets in. "I'm not doing this right. I'll be scolded. I better do a good job." Girls get the heavy end of the stick. When boys are allowed to "be boys" which is total bullshit, girls are taught to conform, to be good girls, and to watch boys have fun as reward.
"Don't you dare come home dirty. Shame on you. Dirty as a boy. Go wash yourself." We can't get into fights. We can't tear or stain our clothes. We can't masturbate. God forbid we get caught. With boys it's inderstandable, "They have the urge." Which is another bullshit myth that we've been fed. Biologically a woman's libido is stronger, if we're reduced to talking about ourselves as animals. Which is yet another bullshit underneath the first bullshit. When we talk gender we reduce it to biology to hide behind bogus ideas.
These are layers of excrement we live in and never smell it. We've been conditioned not to. And if we catch a whiff of the stink, our fear makes us think it smells of sweets. Right. And so we swim in it our entire lives, not being able to do whatever the hell it is we want to do. Not being able to NOT GIVE A FUCK and enjoy ourselves. And when at the end of our lives we realize we gave up all of our time for others, we're being called old callous bitter bitches. Well, no fucking wonder! Why wouldn't you get embittered at the world when you see that you've been cheated of your life?
This conditioning starts in the family and continues to be enforced by society. We think we've made strides with feminism. Ha! We barely started. Little girls born today are still being taught how to be pretty, how to dress like girls and wear pink (particularly in America), how to behave, how to be GOOD. It's very easy, really. Sacrifice yourself for others. Be a maiden, an image of purity, an angel on earth. Then you'll be admired, and only then. No other power is allowed you. This is the story we tell our girls and we tell ourselves. I tell this to myself and I fight it every day. But it's a strong bastard, this life-long conditioning, and it's hard to overcome. It will take me years.
I WON'T GIVE UP UNTIL I DIE.
Here are a few recent things I've done that got my blood boiling at seeing what I do without having seen it before. (Thank God I see it now!)
I've called Russia too much. The bill just came in and instead of buying myself vitamins which I'm out of I had to pay to the bill. I can't afford it. And yet I still do it. Imagine.
My 40s birthday is next month and well-meaning people told me I should do a party. It's the big 40! "No," I said, "I shouldn't. I don't owe anyone anything. If someone badly wants to see me, they can throw me a surprise party or call me. I can't afford a party the way I want it right now. I'm looking forward to being alone with books and going with Royce to a restaurant and eating a nice dinner." I felt sick with guilt saying this for the first time in my life. And how many birthday parties did I do where I had to wake up early, shop for groceries, cook like crazy, serve everyone, clean up after, and then fell exhausted into bed? On MY birthday party? Fuck that.
The need to make everyone happy is another one. People constantly send me emails with requests to advise them and to read their stories and to help them with self-publishing and, most recently, people started calling me. Wherever they got my phone number I have no clue. I used to have it typed on all my drafts before it dawned on me that it's a bad idea. I removed it since then and re-uploaded all drafts without my phone. Still, maybe I'll need to change my number. But back to emails. I'm not obliged to respond to anyone if I don't want to, and yet I still do. The urge to please is sometimes insuperable. I'm working on crushing it. Not a pretty process.
And of course, the crown of it all. APOLOGIES. I constantly apologize to everyone for everything, and above all, for being myself. I have taken on lately to stop doing it. I've been successful at catching myself a few times. The result astounded me. People apologized to ME. I was being late and dropped a few things on people on a short notice, not intentionally, it just happened that way, and when they told me about it and about my being late, I just said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I hear you." I was so tempted to say, "l'm sorry!" This is a deep one. It's squirming and sliding out of my hands when I try to pull it out. Nasty grisly work this is, I tell you.
Reading helps. Lately I've been after feminist books written by women who give me strength in this fight, who have found words for things I didn't know had names, who help see my blind spots, who hold my hand, who have done the work for me so I could join them and do more work and make it easier for others.
"Be yourselves, girls and women, dammit! Be yourselves! Love life he way you won't and don't let anyone tell you different!" I'm shouting out my frustration here because I wish it were as simple as that, but it's laughable. It's like telling a depressed person to stop being depressed. It's not helpful, it's hurtful. So what I'll do instead of shouting is I'll keep sharing my pains and my fights and my losses and my wins and clear the space for you to share yours and get rid of your shame and guilt and fear and start doing what you want, the way you want, for you. For YOU. Not for someone else.
I love you. Let's make some crazy art together and get as filthy and as loud as we want in the process.