Get a Job, Get a Backbone, and Get an Opinion

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“Eh, I can’t go to work today because I got a paper cut last night and it hurts”; “Ew, I can’t finish my errands today because it’s raining and I might melt”; “I can’t carry that box to my car, it’s too heavy”.

I am so tired of dealing with wimpy women.
(And I am saying all of this, because I genuinely care about the well being of my fellow species).

I watched the new Cinderella on my flight home from Europe last week. My entire childhood, Cinderella was my favorite Disney princess, and, now after identifying as a raging feminist, I am repulsed by the whole concept of the story. In reality, what Cinderella really is is a big, giant pushover. The movie kept quoting, “have courage, and be kind”. Well, what did ‘being kind’ get Cinderella? A life full of back-breaking work, ‘family’ who demean and treat her like crap, and friends who are disease-carrying, flea-infested rodents. She never stands up for herself, lets her evil stepsisters and stepmother walk all over her, and the only reason she gets out of that horrible lifestyle is because the Prince comes and sweeps her away. She probably has incredibly low self esteem and no self value. I am not sure why this “romantic notion” of me, sitting inside, being completely dependent upon other people ever became popular, but nothing seems “romantic” to me about this servile, sedentary lifestyle (which is why I have a huge issue with pop culture phenomenons, such as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’).

However, we now live in the 21st century, and in the 21st century, no one is building castles anymore. Most of the time, it’s economically unfeasible for the woman to stay home, just because she is too fragile to confront the outside world. And, the trials and tribulations we experience in the world are actually quite minimal in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, I just want to shake some of these women and say, “GET A JOB, GET A BACKBONE, AND GET AN OPINION!”.

First, get a job. I believe that it is our ethical responsibility to perpetually give something back to society, and I believe that work makes us stronger, more enlightened, better people. Now, I fully agree that ‘job’ does not necessarily mean ‘making an income’, because there are plenty of quality things women can involve themselves in that may not necessarily fit the traditional definition of job, such as raising a family, volunteering in the community, starting up a non-profit, running a Bible study, etc. But, from my experience, bad things happen when women don’t work. For one, women are actually very intellectual creatures, and when they do not channel their intellectual energy into productive means, they start making up drama that does not exist, ruminating on their insecurities, over analyzing ‘problems with their relationships’ that could or could not be true; the mind craves stimulation, and it will find something to focus on, whether it’s creating a booming business, or gravitating towards gossip. And, you never know what could happen to your bread-winning husband; he could become disabled, tragically die, or worse, get a divorce. I can’t tell you how many women I have run into who haven’t ‘worked’ in 25 years, and when they suddenly find themselves on their own, they have no money, no experience, and no fortitude to work.

Second, get a backbone. So much of our lives are governed by social constructions and by fear of what would happen if we break those social constructions. But, if you don’t have a backbone, then like Cinderella, you allow yourself to be a doormat for society, and you let others manipulate and control your decisions. Somewhere down the line (probably from a patriarchal society), women were taught that their role was to cater to those around them. If the boss wanted her to stay an extra hour without pay, then she should abide by those demands. If her husband wanted them to wear cute little frilly skirts everyday, then she should appease those fancies. And, if her friends wanted her to watch all 12 of their darling little rugrats, then she should, because that is the nice thing to do. However, all of these commands come at the expense of self, and giving too much of yourself away causes you to lose direction, identity, sanity. I, for a long time, was this kind of woman, and every night, I would go to bed, exhausted, lost, stressed, and unfulfilled, because I spent too much of my time catering to other people, and not enough time taking care of myself. Because, what inevitably happens is, you stay one hour extra one day, and the boss expects it everyday; you wear cute, little frilly skirts one time, and your husband tells you to stop hanging out with your friends, stop calling your family, stop going anywhere alone, and suddenly, you are dependent upon him; you watch your friends children, and you become the free child dumping ground, and you never develop the ability to stand up for yourself, and say no, and you go to bed at the end of the night, exhausted from other people’s problems. Stop being a willow that bends in the breeze. Be an oak tree.

Last, get an opinion. I don’t care what your opinion is. You could think that the best way to educate your children is to pull them out of school, buy an R.V, and go on an 18 year road trip across the country, eating nothing but dandelions and tree nuts along the way. You could think that the government is corrupt and expect to go into Martial Law at any given moment so you spend your free time building a bomb shelter. You could think that Obamacare is the best thing to happen to America since Lewis and Clark. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have an opinion about something (and you have evidence to back it up). Because, what happens when you don’t have an opinion, is you allow yourself to be swayed by others. This is exactly why the Old, White, Rich men forbid women from going to college in the early 19th-20th centuries; because, when we give people education, and we give them a voice, we also give them the opportunity question our institutions, and our social hierarchies and structures, and we put ourselves in a vulnerable position where they could potentially uproot our ways of living. Change is scary, and “it’s best to just leave the people ignorant”. Perhaps it’s from my Irish heritage, but the women in my family are for sure shakers. We see injustices, we know how the laws are written, and we speak up about it. I know for sure how I feel about gay marriage and abortion, infidelity, and why I would never send my children to a charter school. And, anytime anyone wants to have a conversation about it, I have my guns loaded and my ammunition ready.  

And how does one obtain an opinion? Simply by observing the world around them (which, of course, they are unable to do if they are locked away in some tall, tall tower, awaiting Prince Charming to come). And, voicing their opinion, and knowing that there will be objections (but, since you have grown a backbone, those objections only help to refine your opinion).

Life is really not as hard as you think it is. My room mates and I frequent tubing trips down the South Platte River, and floating amongst the rising cliffs above me, with nature’s placement of rocks and whirlpools in front of me, and no man-made structure of safety next to me, I always imagine that this is what it must have been like for Lewis and Clark. It’s always a great reality check for me, because it reminds me that (a) I probably will obtain a bruise, but so did Lewis and Clark, and they apparently finished their expedition, (b) I probably will get wet, and the water will be quite cold, but so it was for Lewis and Clark, and they didn’t melt, and (c) I probably will have to propel myself off a rock, which could strain a muscle, but Lewis and Clark loaded their entire canoe with everything they needed to survive, and they were able to carry it.

Yes, it is very undesirable to wake up early every morning and go to work, but, I promise, it’s good for you. Yes, you might hurt someone’s feelings when you tell them you can’t watch their children, but they will eventually get over it. Yes, you probably are not going to share the same opinions as your friends and colleagues, but that is ok; we live in a democracy, where everyone has the right to vote whichever way they choose, and being different stirs up appropriate excitement.

Live fearlessly. Hang out on the very edge of the cliff. Speak your opinion. Ruffle a few feathers. You will be amazed at what you can do, and great it feels to finally develop agency and have a sense of self.

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