"I shall never cease to wonder at women. Even with power, it is not possible to read their minds. Duchess and slut alike, they need not even study to deceive. I suppose it is the same with slaves, who live with fear, and with those animals who disguise themselves by instinct to save their lives."
- Mary Stewart
Pretty rough words, huh? Keep in mind, I'm taking them completely out of the context in which they were written to suit my own purposes, but the meaning retains its wisdom, even so. I grew up with a brother I was quite tight with, a father I adored (though we butted heads as often as we agreed), and a mother I never quite learned to respect, but that I am learning to forgive. My maternal grandmother was a hard woman, the heavy to my maternal grandfather's saintly patience and kindness. I believe it was the complete and utter peace and happiness of special moments with my grandfather that informed my life-long
love of addiction to chocolate ice cream. I feel that these formative relationships are the fundamental factors that led to my easy repore with men, and my instinctive distrust of, yet fawning desire to be accepted by, women.
People who know me have heard me say "I'm no Giselle" (Bundchen, Victoria Secret supermodel), in wondering why women tend not to trust me around their husbands. I think it's a symptom of their marriages, personally, and/or the woman's own insecurities about herself, that lead to these touchy scenarios, but it has been pointed out to me that women who are looking to, can read 'signals' into the ways I communicate and move my body that I am completely unaware of. I was asked once (in the first of several attempts at conversation to dispel these fallacies from the head of a woman I try desperately to maintain a good relationship with) "why would you bend over in front of my husband so he could see down your shirt?" Umm...I was picking something up off the floor, I had no idea the horn-dog was looking down my shirt - maybe you should be talking to him about this? (Or maybe just get over yourself because I would never flirt with a friend's husband unless she wanted me to, and men will look at breasts no matter where or how they present themselves.) Same conversation: "why would you squat down in a way that so-and-so's husband could see your thong sticking up out of the waistband of your pants?" (Long time ago, before the kid. Rest assured, this would never happen today!) Uhh...I was squatting like that because it was comfortable, and again, I had no idea my thong was visible, or that there was a horn-dog standing behind me ogling my ass! I fail to see how being looked at by men (or women, for that matter), married or not, is something I should be made to feel ashamed of, or that it's somehow 'my fault', and a behavior that needs correcting.
I bring this up because it pains me, deeply, that as women, we have been made to feel as if we are each other's competition, and as such, are subtly encouraged not to trust each other. The 'divide and conquer' of patriarchy. In the past two weeks, I have had words with two women, one of whom is unquestionably gone from my life forever (no real loss, except for the blow to feminism her insecurities perpetuate), the other...well...we'll see. There are women in my life I trust implicitly, but our relationships were forged along with our sexuality, so there was a higher level of trust between us from the drop. And now that I'm thinking about it, there was another woman within the past year whom I lost to a breach in sexual security, though I doubt she sees it that way, and I'm not willing to bring it up to her at this time. It all adds up to the same thing - the thing I've been telling my girls for years - I Am Loyal To My Sisters Over And Above Any Man. Period. And I don't think it's too much to ask the same in return. Why can't we trust each other? Or, to pick the positive, Can we learn to trust one another? Can we lay down the arms we tend to get all up in and see to our collective power? Must we behave like 'slaves, who live with fear, and...those animals who disguise themselves by instinct to save their lives?' What are we afraid of? What is it we are so terrified to lose? Or is it something we're afraid to gain? Being single, I think it's easier for me to see this perspective, though even as a girlfriend I'm not one to be the 'why're you looking at her' type, because I think it's human nature to look towards beauty, and I don't see a damn thing wrong with people acting like humans. In fact, I encourage it!
*a glitch in blogger deleted part of this paragraph - I was talking about how I usually feel energized and alive as my birthday aproaches, and this year, I didn't. I felt out of sorts and agitated, and I mentioned some weird astrological happenings that were affecting everyone, and then said: (no, not the 2012 thing, Armageddonites!).* There's issues in the government, and people are getting collectively worked up about it. Much like the ripples from the stone thrown in water, these vibrations are washing over me, and I feel ambushed by them. Derailed, blown off course, cast adrift to bob and sway in the current as it carries me...where? Down the dark road of my memories to the place in time where my grandfather took me for ice cream - and farther, to the day I was born, just two days shy of his 49th birthday. Every year of my life thus far, my grandfather and I have celebrated our birthdays more or less together. Decade upon decade of cakes spelling out 'Happy Birthday Zayde and Mayde'. This year, as my grandfather passed away two months ago, there will be no shared cake, no phone calls - his to me, or mine to him. I lost my paternal grandfather 28 years ago. I lost my dad 13 years ago. My brother and I haven't really spoken in years. And this year, I lost my Zayde. As I have no husband/boyfriend, and haven't for many years, that makes a clean sweep of men from my life. All gone.
Maybe that's why I'm looking to the women, and attempting to reconcile the competitive mistrust that tends to characterized our relationships. Maybe after having spent my life up until now looking at the men in my family as the ones to be trusted, while shying away from the fears that seems to have informed the attitudes of the women who raised me, I need my sister-friends more than ever - and they are busy jumping ship like rats, to protect the very systems that force us to hide our light from each other, rather than help each other grow and flourish.
In any case, I'll be having a party, as I do every year. I can't tell you who I'm expecting out of respect for their privacy, but I believe the guest list will include one married hetero couple, and one gay man. Gone are the days (apparently) when I could gather half the town to one of my themed birthday shindigs, but there is the distinct possibility that a few surprise guests may blow in at the last minute. Whether they do or not, I will most likely post about it after the fact, so I encourage you to check back after the weekend to see if anyone posted naked drunk pictures of me to my own blog. I wouldn't bet your retirement on it, but it could happen!
Happy birthday to me ~ ♥