Girls Who Read

I read this line in a 19th century novel today: “After all how few women there are who can raise themselves above the quagmire of what we call love, and make themselves anything but playthings for men.” There’s definitely something to that, even (or perhaps especially) today. We’re supposed to be so much more enlightened about sex and relationships, but I think the space between men and women seems to be navigated as much (or perhaps more) by manipulation and coercion and  selfish (read: anything but real love)  desires as it ever was. I try to take responsibility for my own emotional and intellectual shortcomings, but I do blame the world around me for this: whenever I start to think that I don’t want to be in a relationship unless it’s with a man that is attracted to me for my intelligence and personality, who thinks I’m beautiful because he is crazy about me, not who just enjoys me or puts up with me because he finds me physically attractive- whenever I promise myself this standard, my next thought is that I must be ready to remain content un-attached because that isn’t really possible. That’s not how these things work.

I blame the world around me, because it is possible. It is possible. But everything around me, the relationships I’ve known, the relationships I’m shown, the marketing, the images, the status quo- these things threaten to drag me into the quagmire of mating rituals and protection-from-being-alone-for-sex-arrangements, that murky place where I, as a woman, cannot reasonably ask for more than everyone else is willing to accept, to settle for. That’s the depressing “sound of settling” in the Death Cab for Cutie song. That’s Woody Allen’s pathetic closing line of Annie Hall:

“I thought of that old joke, y’know, the, this… this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us… need the eggs.”

That is correct, and that is probable. But I know something better is possible, and until I’m proved right, I will fortify my resolution with peace, hope, and joy (and this amazing video that makes my heart happy every time I watch it:)


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