on self-reliance and its opposite
I am experiencing a bout of Overactive Dependency.
This weird disease that has hit me, brought on by the one-two punch of socio-political misery and weather-related horror.
What I mean is, I don't feel like my days are mine anymore. And I'm exhausted.
I started noticing a pattern. Every morning, I would wake up and immediately check my phone. Emails, Facebook notifications, Twitter. The first thing I saw in the morning was whatever other people were getting up to. I noticed that I was taking more time to get ready, getting lazy, leaving the house less often. I knew I had to make some kind of change. I was becoming so enthralled by other peoples' activities that I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my own.
So I started taking some active steps in the battle against this emotional cold. Snapchat was swiftly removed from my phone, followed a few weeks later by Facebook. I was getting too casual in my consumption of other peoples' lives. (This is not something I feel alone in- Every other new play written by adults about teenagers features some hyper-dramatic lament about how our phones are !!!!Killing Us!!!!) And the truth is, I have immediately noticed how dependent I was on the constant influx of Information about Other People.
But Twitter brought me more than just fomo in the mornings. It also brought an overwhelming sense of disappointment and anger to go with my morning coffee. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like some new allegation was being made, some new story of a women tearing her life apart just for the chance to speak her truth. And while there were some inspiring stories of their abusers being brought to justice, it felt like more often than not there was just a flash-bang of accusal and then we all pretended like it never happened. And I got tired. Every morning felt like getting a list of who to be disappointed in today, what new ways to be afraid for myself and the people around me who find themselves at the mercy of powerful men.
And that's what it feels like all too often. Like I am at the mercy of the whim of The Men.
My angry lady brain knows, on most days, to put this thought aside and put on my armor and pretend I can't hear the whistles. But sometimes I just feel so dependent on The Men, in jobs, in politics, on the sidewalks. Sometimes it feels like it doesn't matter how loud we are- no matter what good we accomplish we are always at the mercy of The Men who decide to deem it worthwhile. Sometimes it all starts to weigh to heavy and it doesn't feel like we'll ever win.
Like as I write this, I'm sitting next to a man reading a newspaper. The New York Times declares "Women in Black Declare Success." And do you know the pictures they choose to adorn the article? The faces of William H. Macy, Sam Rockwell, and James and Dave Franco hug the corners of the piece. Guillermo del Toro and Martin McDonagh hug joyously next to Gary Oldman, smiling with his award, who in a 2014 interview said, in between defending Alec Baldwin calling a photographer a fag and Mel Gibson's anti-Jewish comments, "I just think political correctness is crap. I think it’s like, take a fucking joke" and other such stunning niceties that you'll just have to read to believe. An article about the successes of the women who created the Time's Up movement is literally SURROUNDED by photos of men! Some who have histories of actively WORKING AGAINST the good that Time's Up is calling for them to do. Even when we are being so loud and doing so much good, we are framed by the men who have done less and fared better, put there by the men who write the paper.
What a fucking outrage it all is.
So I'm tired. And I know it is exponentially worse for people in communities that have so many more battlegrounds on which to fight to just be seen as people. But I feel, in some small way, how it feels to walk through the world and have your body be some kind of point of contention. I know I don't fit so many of the conventional things we're meant as women to fit (do any of us, really?). I know it is transgressive to The Men just that I exist, less than skinny, more than angry, and trying to be loud, not moving out of the way of The Men on the sidewalk. Lately I've even taken to yelling back at men who yell at me in public. A man on a bus touched a young girl and then me and I caused a fucking scene. And in these moments, I feel In Control.
But if the man on the bus hadn't reacted as he did, immediately sheepish and quietly apologizing, I wonder if it would have felt like such a victory. Even in my forceful acts of self-preservation I am depending on the transgressor's behavior. Otherwise I might not walk away from it.
I understand that this is the reality right now, but it will not be forever. It is not different for me than it is for any other woman, any other person who is not The Men right now. But we know that Time's Up, and we're going to make them know it too. I know, in some undetermined amount of years, someone will read this post and struggle to remember a time when every single time we wanted to do anything we had to raise our hand and ask The Men for a hall pass. I hope soon they won't remember when we started just snatching the hall passes from the desk and running full tilt, screaming, out of the room. I hope it will be so soon that the balance of power is natural, shared. That our democracy comes back, displacing this devil-figure in a cheap Sexy Democracy costume from Spirit Halloween. Maybe it will be sooner than we think.
And I'm not saying I'm done fighting.
I'm just tired is all.