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  1. You Want A Piece of Me?

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    You Want A Piece of Me? 


    Over a year ago, I was invited to a Facebook group concerned with racial equality by someone I knew when I was a teenager.  Though we had parted ways way back then, it wasn’t due to disliking each other.  So over time in this group, we’ve all been experiencing each other in an intellectual, often heated, way regarding government, racial harmony and disharmony, the election, and all kinds of matters like that.  Sometimes, I just need to post something like this:

    In the spirit of racial equality, these can be equally problematic.

    People were amused.  The man who invited me there was quite tickled.  One woman said she was stunned that I posted it.  I responded by saying I was glad I still surprise.  But the longer I thought about it, I felt like it was the same old story.  If people meet one in an intellectual setting, it often shocks them that it isn’t all one is.  Yet no one is just one thing.  We are complex beings.

    It reminded me of a college boyfriend who met me during the summer when I was partying.  When the next semester began, he knew I was going nuts to get a certain book that was hard to find.  He told me it probably wouldn’t count for a huge part of the grade, or something like that.  I said that if the professor wanted us to read it, I felt there may be something in there that I’m supposed to know.  He looked shocked and said, “What a serious student you are!”  I was surprised that he was surprised.  I lived on a top-floor walk-up apartment, often ate cream cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and had to be my own parents basically.  No one was bringing me meals or doing my laundry.  I wasn’t able to join clubs in college or be in plays, as I had to run to jobs to get by.  I was in college on purpose, not because others expected me to go or because I had nothing else to do.  I needed to know things.  I guess someone meeting me getting drunk at a party made it hard to imagine I was hungry for knowledge that could help me make sense of what I had lived to that point.

    Recently, a woman I like a lot wrote and directed a staged reading of a play she is working on.  I did what I could to help promote it, I attended it, and I participated in the audience discussion session.  Later, when some of us were in the lobby, she, two other women, and I were talking about it all.  I knew she had been anxious about the large cast getting it together and about audience attending.  So I said, “I’m so glad your cast did a good job and that the room was pretty full in terms of audience turnout.  And you look really nice in makeup.”  Apparently that was a big no-no to the other two women.  They looked away and shook their heads like I had said and your pussy smells great too or something like that. 

    So for all of those who think I am such a feminist and so judgmental and blah blah blah, let me make this clear.  I did not trade in my physical self for my intellect.  I did not trade in my intellect to be sexy and appealing to men who need women to be or at least play stupid.  I own my intellectual self, my emotional self, my sexuality, my physical appeal, and my spirituality… which means I am intelligent and do not hide it or boast about it but try to use it for good, I cry and rejoice and feel really happy and really sad, I laugh big, I get horny and wish more physically appealing available men were grown and not stuck in 7th grade about these matters,  I enjoy being pretty and sexy and love not having to be either as I enjoy the freedom to look crappy too, and I feel connected to most beings in spite of the disconnected society in which I live.  I am equally offended by atheists who laugh at the faith others have as I am by religious folks who expect everyone to agree with and be ruled by their beliefs.  I have been called “extreme” regarding teaching issues by a woman who is married to another woman.  She didn’t call me “extreme” when I argued with a religious colleague for the gay woman’s right to marry.  Everyone likes my sensitive, humane, and strong beliefs when it supports them. 

    As some of you may imagine since I am who I am and my students are adults, not only do I welcome their whole selves when they come to class, I respond with my whole self as well.  So my students feel free to tell me things that other teachers may frown upon.  What I get as a result is a much deeper relationship and the truth.  I’d rather hear an honest “I was hung over” than a bullshit “My aunt died” because I can work with the truth.  My students are human beings to me just like friends or family are.  So I don’t do things to them or talk at them, but rather with them.  I give them the respect I’d want.  Everyone is a human being as worthy as any other human being is not a new concept to me.  My mother instilled my sense of humanity, and not by lecture or research or any nauseating middle class pretense of political correctness.  (Don’t take offense if it doesn’t apply to you.)

    So yes, I am a feminist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good.  (I like when men and streets and gardens and my apartment look good too.)  Being a feminist doesn’t mean I won’t acknowledge a friend looking fancier than her everyday look.  However, I do think the amount of national attention on Michelle Obama’s bangs is symptomatic of something that needs further examination. 

    I don’t yearn to be a stereotype of any kind just to have company.  I yearn to be the best human being I can be given the cards I was dealt in life. 

    And yes, if this woman were someone I know, I’d tell her, “Damn, you look good!”

    I was mainly raised by my grandmother.  Her focus on looks was more than average.  Though I disagreed with her much of the time on this and other issues, you didn’t grow up female in my grandma’s house without a sense of vanity.  Though she passed some years ago, I can still hear her disapproval when I go outside without lipstick. 

    My grandma was widowed in her early sixties.  Years later, I used to suggest she date.  Her reaction was typically, “What are you talking about?! What do I need a man for now?  At this age, they want a nursemaid.  I don’t want to be anyone’s nursemaid.”  I insisted that I wasn’t talking about marriage or about needing.  I’d suggest she enjoy a movie or dinner with a man.  Just dating.  I guess that was not something she considered.  When she grew up, you find a man to marry (not necessarily to enjoy), so you wouldn’t be an “old maid.”  You have sex only with that person so you don’t get considered a “whore.”  You have sex with that person whether you want to or not as your “wifely duty.”  I’m sometimes amazed at how many women didn’t kill themselves.  

    I feel the need to include that my grandfather was a good man and crucial in my early life, but in some ways, I think I got to know him better than she did.  If we want a healthy society, forcing/pressuring people into certain lifestyles is not the way.  We enter the world whole and shouldn't be made to fall to pieces.

    Anyway, when listening to this beautiful young woman with her beautiful voice, I thought of my grandma who also had a beautiful but I-don’t-think-nurtured singing voice, and I thought of how happily NOT married I am.  It lifted my mood, so I offer the same to you.



  2. 5 comments:

    1. RHC said...

      Brava! I have a big laugh & really let myself enjoy humor especially at comedy shows*, where some have looked at me like "why is she / what is she laughing at?" I'm laughing at life - live it!
      Mindy you are woman, keep on roaring!
      Oh yes, I really get a kick out of the folks who tell me I don't look like a comedian. Guess I need a gag arrow on my head...

      *See my blog Comics Don't Laugh

    2. Rhonda, my favorite part of your comment is "Keep on roaring!" Thanks.

    3. Anonymous said...

      Mindy great post. I can't believe how many people really feel pressured by societal norms. I was a rebel from day one, never had a problem dancing to my own drum. I'm glad you're putting this out there - I know many people need to hear this.

    4. Lisa, when I was a teen and enjoyed wearing make-up, hippies often made me feel wrong. It wasn't until I was older that I realized replacing one set of rules with another is not what I call freedom. Their generation (about 10 years older than me) opened teh doors to so much freedom, but when I use that freedom (no bra for example) they are often the ones looking disapproving. So on one hand, I say thank you to those who came before me, and on the other hand, we have farther to go.

    5. She So Funny said...

      Nice read, Mindy. People get way too caught up in stereotypes and make assumptions about everyone. We fail to see that we're all unique and beautiful being our best selves.-S

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