Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

Casual misogyny, feminism and a strive for authentic life

I’m sad to admit that in daily life I sometimes express misogynistic views and thoughts. It may be a strange peculiarity of the country I currently reside in, but the ordinary women around just seem to be manifold more annoying than men: ignorant, self-confident, loud. That definitely feels like a misogynistic thing to write.

At the same time, many artists and writers whom I admire are women: take for instance Louise Bourgeois, Hannah Arendt or Temple Grandin. Moreover, some of the brightest people I know personally are also women. So how did it happen that in theory any woman has a potential to become a genius thinker and creator, yet an average woman you see around is more likely to take a path in quite the opposite direction?

The truth is that our world makes women dumb. It fools them, traps them, conceals the facts under false titles.

It’s not a secret that the natural world doesn’t encourage women to be intelligent. Biology is rooted deep. From the standpoint of natural selection, the biologically beneficial strategy for a woman is to be attractive rather than smart. Obviously, it has an influence on the time allocation within one’s lifespan. You don’t want to spend time on something that won’t pay off, you would prefer doing your nails rather than reading a book. Thanks god women do not evolve as a separate species, otherwise their genetic pool would have already deteriorated towards retardness as a result of natural selection. But enough with controversial theories of social Darwinism. Luckily, we managed to suppress biology, at least slightly. Humankind now inhabits the world of civilization and culture, just as much as the world of material objects. So let’s rather focus on slightly more tangible things, such as norms and expectations enforced by the society.

Despite decades of the feminist discourse, society still lays out a pretty straightforward life path for a woman who ought to consider herself accomplished. There’s no doubt that capitalism has played a big role in women’s emancipation: thanks to their inclusion into the workforce the world economy has experienced an unprecedented growth in the last century. So now a successful woman is not only expected to be a mother and a house wife, but to have a career first. That is already a big achievement of feminism and capitalism working together. However, what’s next? How’s a woman supposed to spend her spare time? Well, here the social expectations didn’t change much throughout the past decades. She’s still expected to move to a suburban home with her family and spend her free time not occupied by work taking care of children and their extracurricular activities. Management of reproduction and handling of its outcomes. How much have we suppressed biology, after all?

Just to illustrate: below is how my mother portrays a perfect life for her daughter (and gets very disappointed with me for not fitting in). What a girl like you should do with her life? Buy a house in the suburbs, have two children and a dog. Express your marginal creative needs by baking pastry (preferably every weekend) and decorating the house for holidays. Any intellectual or spiritual needs should be satisfied doing yoga and reading esoteric literature. It’s mandatory to have your nails always on point, so make sure to visit a nail master every week, cosmetician every two weeks, and hairdresser and brow master every month. The rest of free time (if any) should be spent communicating with relatives. In short: be an ultra-house-wife (and it’s also encouraged to be successful career-wise, so make sure to fit a career between the activities outlined above).

Of course, the picture portrayed above is something more common to be envisioned by people of the previous generations, like my mother. In the past decades, feminism played a great role in liberating both men’s and women’s minds from common prejudices and misconceptions concerning a traditional role of a woman in the world. So now a girl is also encouraged to do something that would help her to realize her human potential. Unfortunately, the misconceptions concerning the preferable ways of self-expression persist. Due to the lack of notable examples around, a girl most likely would choose to express herself through one of the following activities: starting a blog about cooking, becoming a fashion blogger, writing reviews of make-up products. Just browse Instagram for a few hours. There’re some pages with reviews of books too. Alas, mostly teenage fiction novels. Spiritual stuff? Choose among numerology, yoga and tarot. Anything else? Perhaps, only countless pages about self-care and eco-friendly lifestyle (the content of which can be summarized as follows: take baths and boycott plastic straws).

As Virginia Woolf wrote: any creator (be it an artist or a writer) who wants to focus on a creative occupation has to constantly face indifference of the world and fight against the never-ending distractions of life. Financial needs, maintenance of relationships, managing social expectations. As Virginia Woolf wrote, throughout centuries the indifference of the world targeted at female writers was more like a hostility, and distractions burdening them were manifold more serious (need to take care of family, children, and bear financial dependence). In the past decades, feminism helped to remove hostility towards female creators, replacing it with encouragement and affirmative action instead. But unfortunately, distractions still persist. Moreover, they’re often not even perceived as distractions, but actually become the center of one’s life. Diverting the true focus and portraying the nature of life-maintaining activities as the life’s actual meaning. This is when fighting entrophy in your habitat becomes “creating a family hearth and its coziness”, the need to process food and eat becomes the main outlet for creativity, necessity to reproduce and continue the bloodline becomes the ultimate transcendent meaning of life.

The “immortality project” attained through reproduction – that’s when you consider children as the only way to transcend your individual being and achieve some sort of immortality. Such views however have an implied meaning that your own personality will perish in vain upon your death, and your genes is the only thing worth passing forward. This is what always bothered me about the statement that family and children are the most important things in life. The hidden side of this statement is the premise that you give up on your own personal search for truth and any strive for an authentic life. Instead, you simply delegate this responsibility to the following generations, hoping that maybe one of your descendants will find courage to step away from the distractions of life and finally do an authentic act of his own. Leaving a footprint not only in genetic pool, but in the man-made realm of culture and civilization.

And can you respect someone not striving for authenticity? Deep down, can they even respect themselves? The values that the modern world imposes on women and which they happily accept themselves as the ultimate truth – that’s what makes me involuntarily misogynistic. There’s always a choice though, just its existence is often revealed only by some extraordinary conditions: whether it’s a quality education, exposure to a right social circle, or a neurological deviation. As a woman, I can only wish that soon the extraordinary will become more normal, and a half of the humankind won’t need to rely on exceptional circumstances to reveal their true human potential regardless of the gender – not only potential of a reproduction system disguised under appealing titles.

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