Friday, September 18, 2015

Playing the shame game.

When we think about things that are "manly", we think things that come naturally to men-- Sweat, beards, bodily noises, sexual urges; Things that they are naturally, biologically geared toward.

Piss your name into the snow; manly.
Spit and drink and take out your aggression on others; manly.

It takes relatively little effort for men to be "manly". We encourage men to chase their Freudian id and hold manly men up as an example. We allow men to be themselves, to be human and to accept themselves as they are. Zero effort.

In the past, men were the land owners, Kings of kingdoms, heads of all the households. Women didn't gain "equal" rights until the 1920's and we are still fighting an uphill battle against things like pay wages and political representation. Women were thought of as beautiful objects, adorned and gifted to other men in exchange for goods and services. Wives were property. Women were beautiful, because, much like expensive sports cars, the price was high and men wanted to get something that would satisfy their baser urges. Women didn't look beautiful because women wanted to, they looked beautiful to attract a mate, money and status-- Things that they needed to survive in a time where we had absolutely no power as human beings.

So it's not surprising that when it comes to what we think of as "womanly", we have a different societal experience. Being "womanly" means you use fragrances to smell a certain way, remove your body hair, wear a painted face and jewels and shoes that hurt your feet, modify your body to fit society's shame based standards,... I could go on. We are still trying to maintain that high standard of beauty and have been conditioned to feel like if we fail that, we are worth less as a person.

Women are conditioned to feel like they are never "womanly" enough. Our big goal in life, from when we are children shoving balled up socks in our shirts, is to try to finally be considered a "woman". We live and die, bingeing and purging, and exercising, and working, just to shovel money into the billion dollar fashion, weight loss and cosmetics industries. All to try to be this abstract version of what a "woman" is SUPPOSED to be. We are always striving toward a goal that is unreachable because it doesn't exist.

The women we hold up as examples are impossible. They are photoshopped. Even the models, society's most "womanly" women, aren't good enough without airbrushing. We are so far down the rabbit hole that women shame other women out of unhappiness and frustration and the cycle perpetuates itself.

We stigmatize the things that come naturally to women-- breastfeeding, hair growth, weight gain, menstruation, sexuality-- We SHAME our women for these things.

We tell other women to put their breasts away at the Gap because we don't want to watch a baby suckle from them, but will walk past Victoria's Secret, point at the window and say, "I wish I looked like her."

What's wrong with us, society? In a culture that supposedly prides itself on our equal treatment of women and our supposed level of civilization, how do millions upon millions of women walk around each day functioning with these thoughts in their brains? Why should we have to worry that our husbands might leave us, let alone read tips for how to prevent it in the check out line? Why should we hide our tampons beneath our other purchases, be ashamed of buying condoms, have to wear binding undergarments, have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for makeup and bleaching products and hair removal systems and weight loss drugs and all these things to change ourselves to fit societies standards of what we should be "someday" ??? Which, by the way, is a day that will NEVER come. We will never be enough. You will never, ever be enough.

So what the hell do we do about it?

Start with loving ourselves and not tearing down other women.

Yes, it's going to be hard at first, but challenge your first thought and ask yourself how it is fueling the societal oppression of womankind. By telling another woman that she isn't good enough, you are reinforcing sexist stereotypes and dooming us all to a life on this insane hamster wheel. So no body shaming, no slut shaming, no breastfeeding/bottle feeding/mom wars crap, no shaming of any kind.

If you are someone who tears down others, ask yourself how you feel about you? Could it be because you don't like yourself? Start there. Work on forgiving and accepting. Find a community. Find other women who want to talk and who might also agree to stop shaming other women. Help each other and don't be afraid to stumble along the way. Talk to people before you judge them. Get to know their struggles and figure out who they are as a person. Allow other women to be flawed, to be human and to accept themselves, zero effort. Give us a place where we can come and set the weight of all of it down for a bit. Be a soft spot for other women to land when things are just too much to bare.

I know it sounds like a lot, but it gets easier. The more you accept and love yourself, the more you want to help others find that same sense of happiness and appreciation. We women are not prized jewels to be swapped, we are people, we are flawed, we are human, and we are equals. It's time we started treating ourselves that way.

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