Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FIERCELY Interdependent

It’s funny when I was a young 20 something coming into her own. I waved my independence like a flag girl at a high school half-time show.  Every time I would talk with my Auntie Linda, my elder ear and sounding board for life, I was always telling her what I wasn't going to do for a man.  Not that I hated men, but at that point in my life  I felt that doing anything traditional for my man would do nothing but help continue the status quo of our patriarchal society.  To me, reminding people that I didn't need a man and I could take care of myself was placing a flag in the sand and letting the world know I AM WOMAN and we are equal to men!!

 It never occurred to me that wearing my independence like some kind of merit badge was not only detrimental to the cause but it really wasn't what I believed.  It’s what I thought I needed to believe… with 3 hours between me and a second degree in Women’s Studies, I had sat in tons of classes on feminism from both minority and white perspectives, although more white than not. And what I gleaned from those feminist minds was in order to be respected you have to a)be independent b) reject all vestiges of traditional gender roles  and c) remind everyone every chance you get about how you are doing A and B. I'm not saying that's what they were teaching, I'm saying that's how I was processing their lessons. 

My aunt never argued, never told me how silly that was, she simply laughed and said I don’t know if that’s the route you want to choose to go with your feminism. Like any other young woman new to the cause and eager for CHANGE and HOPE I reduced her views down to being antiquated and southern. That’s so hilarious to me now, because she was definitely the opposite of that. And I viewed her as progressive on everything but how to take care of (or not take care of) your man. I mean after all, she was one of the first female frame operators at Southwestern Bell back in the 70’s.

Side note: Remind me to tell you more about my aunt and her influence in my life and my delicate balance of belle and brawn.

Fast forward to present day… for the past few months I keep seeing messages that lead me to believe that many people do not believe that a woman can be independent and supported by her mate.  The dogma that in order to be a heterosexual feminist of the radical mind changing variety, one must still remind everyone they DON’T NEED A MAN and they are independent troubles me.  These beliefs are problematic for me for many reasons, but look you don’t have all day to read them and I most certainly don’t have all day to write them. So I'm gonna leave that to the academics who make their living breaking things like this down for your reading enjoyment and speak from my heart. 

I’m  gonna try to keep this short and sweet. First off we all know that feminism is about not only equality but choice… there are plenty of articles to Google on that, but basically it doesn't matter if you long to be June Cleaver, Murphy Brown, Claire Huxtable or even Florida Evans or Diamond, feminism is about your choice to be any of those women without being negatively impacted by society for that choice. 

And the simple fact that independence has nothing to do with being supported by a person, financially, emotionally or otherwise. Independence simply means that you can think for yourself and you can make decisions for yourself and deal with the ramifications of those decisions without blaming anyone for said decisions.  Independence most certainly means you don’t need anyone; however NO MAN is an island, peninsula maybe. So at some point the humanness of who we are will need the love, support and comfort of someone… and to not allow that to be a man who wants to offer that to you because it somehow keeps the patriarchy alive seems foolish to me.  Independence is freedom.  

If you believe you should be autonomous and the master of your own faith you will eventually begin to walk in what that truly means for you.  If you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself with out help from anyone and decide to make a choice to submit to your mate along traditional gender lines, it doesn't make you dependent on him. It just makes you in love and a woman who happens to like the traditional structure of a man at the head of the household  There is symbiotic relationship between lovers that only those two can truly understand quit trying to shove people in a box because of your limits.  A woman can be fiercely independent and still submit to her husband, actually I like to think of it as being fiercely interdependent.   It’s no different than any other choice we make in life that subjects us to submit to someone besides ourselves.  Do you call people that work for someone else mooches?  Do you call people that follow instructions of a teacher or guide co-dependent?  Do you call law abiding citizens that follow the law mindless automatons?
Independence simply means think for yourself and be responsible for those thoughts and choices. If you decide you want to live alone with 20 cats and a smashing collections of  mumus… do it! If you decide you want to be taken care of by a millionaire… do it! If you decided you want to wear the pants in the family …do it! If you want to pussy pop on handstand while men make it rain on it!

And while you’re doing any of those things be okay with the rewards and consequences that come with those choices and if you aren't okay with them, then do something else.  After all that’s what independent people do they change their situations when it doesn't match their end goal, they don’t spend that time reminding us how independent they are at every turn. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re anything, just be.  If you concentrate on just being who you are people will see it and hopefully they will believe it. But even if they don't, so what. It doesn't stop you from being who you are.

I don’t think the intent of feminism was to make women choose between living the life they wanted to live and creating an equal place for women.  And I don’t think equality lies in rejection, on a personal level, of traditional gender roles. For me freedom begins in the mind. So as a (wo)man thinks...

Until we focus on changing our views about what it means to be an independent woman, we’ll continue to have a bunch of women who make unnecessary choices to further the cause and other women who will refuse to join the fight.  I don’t know about you but that sounds like hustling backwards to me.  

Be EZ,

1 comment:

The F_Uitlist said...

this post is my 20's 100% and I was already with my husband. It's partially what almost ended our relationships because for some time I saw him as competition NOT my partner. Now I look back and laugh because I'm so far gone from that girl. I'm very much independent, but dependent on the man I love. And not because I need too but I want to. I enjoy being able to step away and let him lead.

Great post.