This is an older post, written 25 February 2013. I was still writing with all lower-case lettering. The sentiments are the same.
Alpine Climbers, Midi-Plan Traverse, France.
photo credit: Tommy Harris, National Geographic Magazine.
there are too many voices in my head. usually there are few. they lounge, chit-chat. drink Early Grey and plot world domination. fine by me. then they invite their relatives and it turns into a shout-fest and their conversations spill over into my conversations in real-time and now Huston we have a problem.
the bodacious ones in this round of internal polylogue have hitherto been wallflowers, so when they exploded out of nowhere no one brought proper PPE and thought-filter plugins were disabled and that’s why this post might be huge. the most recent trigger was my reading of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, where she described the overall dissatisfaction of the post-WWII female population. womanhood at that time was contoured by domestic chores, but Friedan–and as she came to realize in her research, her contemporaries–felt unfulfilled. as with most unhappiness, we slab on a psychosis label and try to talk it out, except back then psychotherapy for women was an euphemism to dismiss the patient’s unhappiness as a fluke.
thence began the feminist movement in earnest and now i feel like we’ve overcompensated. now women are supposed to do everything that a man can and it is uncouth and unimpressive to be only a housewife. on the other hand, men are cosigned as clueless mess-makers and football-watchers and sex-drives draped in skin and i feel like we’ve missed the point. when i look at social norms and tradition and expectations the discrepancies even within one community is daunting. and for the twenty-somethings i feel it’s even harder, because we are answerable to the generations before us and where our own lives seem to be going and often the two (and three and four and a dozen) are not in accord. i’m sure my philosophically-inclined friends who have a feast with parsing out which one is the good and true and worthwhile of pursuit whereas i am simply lost.
so, what happens when there’s too many voices?
it would seem that the elixir to information overload is effort-output anorexia. everything we are doing most of the time are met with “no”s: i ought to not be frank in my relationships lest frightening the other, i mustn’t want because it’s envy and that’s a sin, i should not laugh loudly because it’s childish, and good heavens i should not ask a guy out because it’s unladylike. some of my friends noticed that they’ve become less creative, either because they have no time to be creative outside of their assigned, ye-must-do type of work, or they have been honed toward something that is predictable, and predictably successful. it seems like my generation–and perhaps, an inherited trait from the generations preceding ours–is living by this whittling ourselves, and we end up choosing what-we-do-based-on-what-we-can’t/shouldn’t/ought-not/shan’t-do. and it appears to be that the only workable alternative to make ourselves feel less limited is to manipulate others into limiting themselves too.
it makes me sad that we, as human beings, as collective creators, as creatures of potentials, and as lovers of the deepest degree and magnitude and sincerity often feel so limited, whether by other’s choice or our own. and i refuse to believe that we can only be satiated and secure when we dismiss and discredit others, whether between genders or races or cultures or choices or opinions.
when there are too many voices, i think it’s good and honorable and worthwhile that women–and men too–choose what they wish to do. i certainly cannot raise a toddler and keep up the house and work full-time and keep up my friendships. (the first and second items named in the previous sentence are mutually antagonistic.) and i certainly cannot save the world by decoding the secrets of neurotoxin and world-travel and world-create and take dazzling photographs of my cats. (hence there are not any at the moment.) i cannot do many things but there are people, strong and able and admirable, both men and women who can and i don’t understand why any of them should be scrutinized because of they know themselves and decide to live thusly.
i cannot do many thing and cannot be who people expect me to be, but i can do many that are my own and be my own person. i can bake mocha german chocolate cake with raspberry glaze and make ratatouille with basil puree and dance a mean foxtrot and read Craig Thompson novels and recite Yeats and caress Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise from a 18th century violin and perform micro-surgeries and carry on conversations in a French accent and write pixels on a screen that makes someone feel less alone. and i am saying yes to these things.
and i believe we need more yes, regardless of genders or races or cultures or choices or opinions. and i don’t want to use terms like feminism or proper social roles because they seem so very narrow, because they divide and we can only be dissected so much before we forget we are more than the sum of our parts.
so more yes, please.