My friend Anja (I’m just going to use her name and hope she doesn’t mind) said something that kind of threw me off-balance the other day. She began by relating how “surprised she is that there isn’t more general misogyny in the world.” Apparently, she has this sort of antipathy towards her own sex, a hatred towards women, which I don’t quite fully understand yet. I suppose she can get away with making such an assertion, because, well, she’s a girl. To this, she started to elaborate some, and I was bit shocked at what she said. The general assertion she was making wasn’t by itself groundbreaking, or pertaining to thoughts I hadn’t perhaps on occasion entertained myself, but it was the fact that it was being said out-loud, on Westminster Street, with the occasional finger literally pointing at passersby as walking hypotheticals that made me blush. — And if the melanin in my skin didn’t abscond manifestations of all shades of “blush,” the world might have seen it as well.
Thus, she began her little treatise, speaking out-loud unabashedly, inviting some very nasty looks and head-turns. We continued to walk together down the highly trafficked street, like Morpheus speaking to a Neo in a simulated Matrixed world. Apparently Anja is a bit old-fashioned, and is quite critical of how her sex has evolved within the last couple of decades. To her, she claims women have digressed into something she is ashamed to call her own. They are (or so she claims) the “lowest denominator of a Russian nested doll,” the matroyoshka, suggesting a stripping off of every last bit of modest decency, with nothing remaining but a tiny little caricature of assumed worth. I listened, impressed by her imagery and eloquence (though a little wary of the blanket generalizations), and it wasn’t long before she pointed to a 35 year-old plastic Corporate Barbie, smoking outside, wearing shapely office-attire, low-cut reveling top, a gray tight skirt-short, with heels comically high, to which she branched into a new [paragraph] on the “working-woman.”
In short, to Anja, the full-time woman-professional that strives to be at par with her male contemporaries, filing reports, attending meetings, firing people, is a digression. This is of course ironic since Anja is herself a professional, though she will rub this nuance off as unimportant, — not germane to the issue, — and to me, frankly confusing. She takes umbrage not at the women who needs to work to support herself and her family, but the independent woman, the woman that needs “only herself, a one-bedroom apartment, a man-hating cat, a good wine-bottle opener, and a sufficient enough quantity of ice-cream in the freezer to last through one complete disk of Sex and the City.” I nervously laughed through most of this: it seemed to be almost borderline “hate,” which the Christian side of me tends to abjure like the plague. How can anyone be against “woman’s rights” when it seems so fundamental to the equality of existence. There is no way I could be in support of anything like inequality for women, or support any suggestion towards disenfranchisement — just seems too unethical. But to hear this from a girl, no less, and girl that is being so vocal and passionate about her ethos, which seemed long-thought and pressurized in her head to finally erupt into such a mountain of vitriol, was too much for my meek and humble self to quietly bare — in a public venue no less.
I couched my objections for the time, (I mean, where to start?) and then begged first for a little more elaboration. According to Anja, you cannot find a women in the current time — or a least one worth commitment: your only recourse is to turn to fiction. To her, the model of true feminine grace and modesty are sealed forever in centuries past: the 18th, the 19th, century. The heroines of Jane Austen’s pen: Elinor Dashwood, Lizzy Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland, and Anne Eliot. Women today, she claims, have stained that sacred veil of purity that was once their most precious garment. Holding the self-low, in terms of virginity and feminine modesty, have turned Sarah Jessica Parker into the modern day heroine, and “what kind of life is that really?” she questioned: women in their mid-to-late thirties, unmarried, going out and glorifying their own promiscuity in the name of female independence; it is a “rebellion against natural gender roles that have sustained human life for 200,000 years.” This is when she took an angry and rather vocally harsh turn towards homosexuality, particularly against what she called “post-” lesbianism, which I should mention is quite dangerous to do in the middle of Providence and all — but again, she’s a girl. While she doesn’t take aim at homosexuals in general, she objects to the winked approval of lesbianism, and the high-esteem it has attained as a highly sexualized, and desirable practice. This, she claims, the curtain-approval and sealing of homosexuality as a purely normal and natural occurrence, that needs to be embraced and open as such, has attracted many otherwise straight women to lesbianism purely as a surrogate to men — who are now unneeded as the gender divide collapses.
“What has equality brought us,” she asks, rhetorically. “Voting, equitable wages” was my immediate response. To my disbelief, she actually attacked “voting” as something that has only perpetuated the problem: “Hillary Clinton” was her one-name response to it — which I found a bit weak and unconvincing. I mean, really, how is Hillary Clinton and her large pool of her supporters really perpetuating this new kind of implosive feminism? Anja claims that women have given up too much in exchange for too little: a pawning of their gentle femininity, to gain an illusory promise, that has yet to realized. The chivalry of the past, lasting fulfilling marriages, and a life of motherhood has been traded in for an insatiable appetite for power and independence that gives birth to bastard children, and second-divorces. The once prized domestic skills of the woman cast off like chains of bondage, when in truth, they were the pillars of a noble home. Anja suggests that men look at her, and other women, cheaply: grouping all women into the homogeneous batter of stereotype; that instead of seeing a life-long companion, and a mother, they see a 3-month fling, and a night of off-the-books fun.
After all this, I didn’t really quite know where to stand, or how to respond. Her plea was doleful, her face in mourning, and the arguments at times were convincing. I hope she’s wrong.