Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Who am I? I am a woman in her early thirties. Sometimes I feel like a woman, sometimes a girl, it depends on the day. Mostly, though, I just am. I get up in the morning, drink my coffee, take the walk to my job, spend the day hopefully being productive. I enjoy being useful. Some evenings, I go straight home to my books, my piano, my knitting and my cats. Other days, I may go out to dinner with friends - both male and female. Or I might catch a movie. Or wander through a book store. Or maybe even get a drink. When the weather warms up, I'll put on some scruffy clothes and dig around in my landlord's dirt.

I'm not wealthy - I make enough to live on, though, with a bit of wiggle room. I am actively saving for my retirement. My discretionary money goes to all sorts of different things - not often to makeup. Never learned how to wear that. I do like perfume oils, though - mainly flower smells. Every now and again, I may henna my hair to make it shinier and bring out the reddish color. It looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself. I am also a yarn fiend. As any of my friends will attest - I have quite a stash. From this, I might make something new for me to wear, sweaters for little toys that I might send to a variety of different charities, gifts for friends.

Another thing I enjoy doing is taking my body out and working it. I enjoy all sorts of things, as I am a big sheepdog of a girl who needs to be run around a lot in order to be happy. Cycling, rowing, running, hiking, even bellydancing are favorites.

I have a boyfriend. He is a tall, handsome, quiet man. He gives me a great amount of freedom - or is it rope with which to hang myself? I'm particularly happy that he doesn't pressure me to have children or to stay at home all the time. If he is jealous of the attention of my male friends, he sure does hide it well.

My friends are very special to me. They come from all walks of life, to be sure. I think that they're evenly divided genderwise. Some are gay, some are straight, some bi, some just plain not interested.

Although my job isn't perfect (what job is?) and it has very little to do with what I studied in college (will transcribe a song off the radio or translate that poem for cash!) - I am learning things from it. Good, practical stuff. I appreciate that three of my mentors in the work world are women. Strong, smart, eloquently outspoken women.

I love that none of my girlfriends are quiet, shrinking violet types. It makes for lively debate. I can count among them lawyers, accountants, businesswomen, artists, literary types, social workers, musicians, doctors. No dumb bunnies in the lot of them. Some are mothers, some are not.

I am told by some that I am beautiful. It is fun every now and again stopping traffic on the way to or from work. Sometimes I even enjoy flirting. It tickles me that people might find me attractive. I am very pleased that this does not tend to affect my working relationships, that the men that I know (and some women, too) can look beyond how I look and see that I am useful, relatively intelligent and sometimes somewhat insightful. I appreciate that if, while I'm out working in my front dirt plot, some man asks me out, that I can say no thank you to him and not worry about him hassling me. Or that if he does, friends or neighbors will help to set him straight.

For a person of humble means and background, I have had incredible opportunities - to travel, to study, to use what I have been given to help myself to help others. I have freedom to move around, to dispense of my money as I like, to go out and have fun, to believe in whatever god I see fit. I have the ability to confront people I disagree with, to air opinions, to silently demur. No one is stopping me from doing anything but me.

I contrast my situation with those of the women in other places - from Afghanistan under the Taliban, where women were denied education, the ability to support themselves, medical care to Iran where not wearing a veil could lead to beatings by the morality police to Saudi Arabia, where, over the last year, girls were pushed back into a burning building and their deaths in order to guard their 'honor'.

I see how well assimilation is going in Europe - from sociology professors in Scandinavia laying the blame for attacks of women by immigrant men on the women themselves, to the next to lawless banlieue in France where girls may well be murdered by male relatives for looking at or talking to non muslim boys.

It would be nice if the so called feminist intellectuals here could move beyond painting themselves as perpetual victims and their shameless navel gazing to perhaps use their fame and position to take a stand for women elsewhere. To look beyond often hysterical hatred of the current administration or even this country as a whole and understand that we are pretty darned lucky to have what we do, even if things could be better. To understand that here, unlike many other places we have the ability to be both sublime and ridiculous. That as imperfect as our world may be here - it is worth fighting for if we wish to continue to enjoy the freedoms and privileges we do now.

No comments: