Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How to Transcend Sexism

...it's clear that the faults we tolerate and even overlook in men, we see as glaring in women. The problem with sexism is that it's so damned invisible. McCain can confuse Sunnis and Shiites and nobody blinks. Bush can admit to his press secretary that he outed a secret agent while claiming that he'd fire any aide who did so -- and the press sleeps. Men make mistakes. Women are not allowed to. We are held to such high and impossible standards that the possibility of any woman penetrating the barrier again seems remote.
Erica Jong, lamenting...well, Pretty Lady is not lamenting at all.

Because a person does not transcend sexism by becoming President. Particularly when one's method for attempting to become President involves lying, manipulating, pandering, marrying someone Presidential, prodding, extorting, distorting, backstabbing, and possibly bumping people off. It is perfectly possible that both Lucretia Borgia and Attila the Hun were extremely sexist individuals, if they managed to transcend their lizard brains sufficiently to have thoughts on the subject.

Transcending sexism, in fact, is not an external process at all. Simply, one may not effectively address sexism Out There, in the material world, because this is not where it originates. Attempting to redress the fact that one is defined in the minds of others by one's external characteristics, by manipulating those selfsame external characteristics, is doomed to failure at the outset. Sexism begins in the mind; and the only mind over which one has any measure of significant control is one's own.

Reread, if you will, the Erica Jong passage above. 'We are held to such high and impossible standards...'. This passage, Pretty Lady tells you, is a Red Flag. Perhaps she notices it so particularly because of her Virgo nature, which holds her to high and impossible standards on a second-by-second basis; she, in her earlier years, sincerely believed that she would not be allowed to join the human race until her feet did not smell, she had passed the bar, graduated with honors from Harvard Medical, placed in the triathalon, and held a solo exhibition at a major gallery in Chelsea, sold-out and well-reviewed. The fact that she had no interest in attending law school, medical school, or competing in triathalons held little place in her considerations, because, as a Receptive Feminine Entity, she believed that other's expectations defined her as much as she defined herself.

This, darlings, is the lead cannonball attached to our ankles. This is the chain we must cut. All else is useless.

Pretty Lady is not telling you that this is at all easy. As women we are naturally sensitive to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others; this is how we are constructed, and it is a fine thing, for the world would literally fall apart if it were otherwise. This is one of the reasons it is fatal to model one's feminist ideology on that of Attila and Lucretia, for such ideologies necessarily require that only a few individuals attain them. If we were all Attilas, the world would end in a ball of flame, sooner rather than later. Remember Kant, and heed him.

In fact, Pretty Lady came to understand in latter years that those Harvard Medical expectations were a mere Booby Prize, to compensate for the fact that the clearly stated inclination of her Inner Self, since birth, was toward the well-reviewed exhibition in Chelsea. Well she recalls, at the age of eleven, being asked by her mother, "If money were no object, what would you like to do?"

Eleven-year-old Pretty Lady responded forthrightly, "I'd want to be an artist, and live in a loft in New York City."

Her dear mother replied, "Okay. So what jobs are like being an artist, and what places are like New York City?"

There was never any real chance that Pretty Lady would become a graphic designer, living in a condo in Kansas City, of course. But the subliminal message that "You can do anything you want, except what you want" produced a neuroticism in her personality that became her primary barrier to achieving her goals. It took a great deal of time, effort, and several spectacular failures to duly eradicate these neuroses, and claim her God-determined place in life as an artist in New York City. But here she is, surviving and thriving.

Because, darlings, the answer is not Out There, and it never was. The answer was born with you, within you, and all you must do is access that answer and build your life from this foundation. Persons who jeeringly deny the truth of this answer must be resolutely shunned, for it is a waste of time to address them.

And for all you ladies who complain about the catcalls, the belittling remarks, the dismissals, the apparent deafness when we are communicating something of serious import, and the thousand subtle indications that we are decorative chattels whose primary role is the care and feeding of Others--yes, that's annoying. But boys get to deal with getting shouted at, shot at, and pounded into the pavement, as a regular rule. Consider this your gauntlet of bullets, and be proud to walk it.




12 comments:

jSinSaTx said...

Uh... you do want your feet not to smell though... yes?

jSinSaTx said...

The climb to the top is rarely anything other than terribly difficult for most people... even doing it by circuitous route or an underhanded route takes a certain mindset... You could flip a lot of what she said and fit in the blank for most people... a black man... a short man... a divorced man... ugly people... when you are different from what is expected then there will be a novelty and deeper analyzing... but why bang your head and heart against some made bugger's wall? What is the top? If your idea of the top is something that primarily appeals to men the it seems reasonable that you would have some difficult hurdles to clear just for not being one... but if your goal or definition of the top is more internal such as the one described by PL then really the person to please becomes more yourself.

My definition of the top in my life, without going into too much detail, includes things like a) spending more years playing than working (hardly a recipe for exorbitant wealth) b) a life free from as much hassle as possible...

jSinSaTx said...

made = mad... must have been banging my hands against the keyboard...

jSinSaTx said...

I also commented on the posts below... took awhile, probably not worth the wait... but they are there.

Pretty Lady said...

There is no reason for one's goals to be anything other than internal, because external power is a chimera; it can be taken away at any moment by events completely beyond one's control. Inner power is the only immutable one.

Pretty Lady said...

And I wash my feet daily, but after a day in the Tevas they smell all too human.

Chris Rywalt said...

I find the discussion of your foot odor vaguely disturbing, PL.

Pretty Lady said...

Your expectations are too high, Chris; I reject them.

Chris Rywalt said...

What? No. It's not that you shouldn't have foot odor, or even that you shouldn't discuss it if you do. It's just vaguely disturbing to me somehow, in this particular context. Can't say why.

Howlsatmoon said...

My paws are clean....see?

Chris Rywalt said...

Omigod, it's Human Smelly Feet Week on the Internet!

Vidad said...

Bravo. Good thoughts, PL.