imperfectlyperfect: Text icon: Fuck Society's Idea of Beauty (Fuck It)
When [personal profile] nilchance linked me to this excerpt of an essay by Deborah Schoeneman, she wrote: "You know, this article on "women-children" actually makes me hear the author going OMG GUYS STOP HAVING FUN STOP IT I'M TELLING MOM."

And yeah. That's definitely in there; a musty whiff of sour grapes that there are legions of women accessing a kind of femaleness that she doesn't like and isn't interested in. And that, in and of itself, pisses me off, that Schoenenman feels the need to pathologize this into some kind of O NOES national crisis.

But it also makes me sad, because this is a woman who has been sold a bill of goods. Somewhere she picked up a black and white checklist of what Adulthood and Adult Womanhood are and any items, any behaviors that fall outside of that narrow arrow slit window are not only Immature (with requisite capitals), not only offensive, but are somehow DANGEROUS to the pedastaled ideals of Adulthood and Adult Womanhood.

Sadly, this isn't at all uncommon.

Let me break it down for you:

I don't want to be a kid again. I don't want to de-age. My childhood was better than some, worse than others and it's nothing I feel the need to repeat. Honestly, the young are not all that interesting, as a mass entity, in the same way the old are not all that interesting. People are interesting. Groups are generally dumb. I tell my stylist politely but firmly that I'm not interested in dying my gray away and I spend absolutely no time scrutinizing my face for new wrinkles...but I'll take every iota of pleasure from the lady who stops me to admire my sparkly, glittery, neon colored nails. Because that's how I roll.

I was an uptight, overly responsible, old-before-my-time and stressed out kid. I was that because my mother was often NOT an overly responsible person and someone in that house needed to be. Now that I'm married and out on my own and making my own way, I am a much relaxed, and yet still responsible grown up. I pay my bills before everything else, I have savings for the first time in my life...and sometimes I wear my hair in pigtails, because I rock that shit like you wouldn't believe. These things are not incompatible.

This response from XOJane is a good one, tongue-in-cheek while still making a lot of important points about where Schoeneman goes wrong, but what I think she doesn't say and what strikes me as most tragic about Schoeneman's essay is her inability to rejoice in the fact that women, as a collective, are finding new ways to reclaim and redefine their womanhood in ways that were never available before; to step outside of the forced freeze frames of work and family and a slow fade into pastel obscurity. THERE ARE OTHER THINGS OUT THERE FOR YOU, IF YOU WANT THEM.

For myself, I have to admit, I have never been so happy as when I've been willing to push against those mental boundaries of what I've been told (and what I've self-defined) as "appropriate" and "proper" and "adult". I find that, most of the time, those boundaries are as ironclad or permeable as I LET them be.

And that's a good thing.

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March 2013

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