Friday, October 10, 2008

When The Reflection Lies

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Distortion of truth is one of the mainstays of patriarchy.  It thrives on women believing that their sole values lies in their ability to attract and keep men.  It keeps women competing with each other for male attention and continually devalues our contributions to society. 

From birth it is reinforced that our value lies in our physical beauty and when that is threatened, some women loose all sense of self.  This is why when women find their voice and assert their individuality and agency, men immediately attack our physicality.  Suddenly we are ugly hairy man-hating feminists.  The taunt of ugly is meant to unsex us and leave us begging for redemption.  If feminine is the binary opposite of masculine, to be declared 'unwoman' is to be constructed as a man without the power of patriarchal privilege.  It is to be understood as the under appreciated female eunuch.

The moment when you realize that you are whole person, equal to a man, with needs wants and abilities, nothing about your outward appearance changes.  You don't suddenly become grotesque but in the eyes of patriarchy what made you woman is fundamentally gone and in its place is a harridan that refuses to be ruled. 

Just as you have suddenly had a moment of self realization you must resist this new mask that patriarchy is choosing to attach to your identity.  Referring to women as ugly ball busting bitches is an attempt to discipline our behaviour and has nothing to do with our level of attractiveness.  It is nothing more than a tactic of war. 

If you own the identity of the ugly unappealing woman, you are not really valuing yourself or living up to feminist ideals.  The reflection in the mirror is not the real you but the distorted image of womanhood that patriarchy wants you to see.  Rejecting the patriarchal reflections is not an easy thing to do because when you enter the social world, everything around will reinforce the idea that your body is need of improvement. It may be your weight, your hair, or even your smell, 'woman' is never a complete project.

Turn your feminist eyes on your nude body and reconstruct from a place of matriarchal power and inner fortitude.  Revel in what you have been taught to see as flaws.  Recreate yourself from a place of love and strength because every inch of you is beauty reincarnate.  Woman is the giver and nurturer of life.  Woman is a being of mystery and strength.  Woman is you. 

When you hear the call to feminism and answer with an open mind and open heart the reflection that you have spent a lifetime viewing will fade away, and in its place will appear one that is not created from a male lens.  Embracing feminism is about learning what is  best and worst about ourselves and finding love irregardless.  For the first time the mirror will reflect the truth of your identity, because it is created by you.


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I freely admit that there are sexist men in the world. Also that a woman's value is not only about her looks. That being said, surly you are not implying that the women in the pic you posted is attractive.

Anonymous said...

this is one of the best posts i've ever read. you really deconstruct the intersections of patriarchy, racism, and homophobia in one of the most comprehensive ways i've seen. please know that you are appreciated.

Sabertooth Screaming Lemur said...

I think this is a great post: thoughtful, insightful, and well-written. No matter how strong we try to be, it always helps to have such a clear reminder that the Patriarchy's view of us is not the way things are or should be.
(((Renee)))
Thank you.

Dori said...

Thank you Renee.

Seeing this laid out in front of me makes all the little ways that I hate myself come forward, and helps me to kick them a little farther away each time they come back :D

casual observer said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou for posting this. This is excellent! For so long I felt the need to have a man in my life. Not now. After twice being crapped on by both husbands, I am happily single. I am not even dating or looking. I feel no need for a man to "complete" me because I am already complete. I feel no need to conform to patriarchy's narrow view of womanhood so I dress and act in a manner that is acceptable to me and that frequently means utility and comfort. I can be frequently found in Doc Martens and jeans and a tshirt. I have very short hair and rarely wear makeup. These are all things that have garnered the question "are you lesbian?". Sigh. Stereotypes will persist but I am comfortable in who I am and will make no adjustments just because someone else is uncomfortable trying to figure out my orientation. My confidence in myself is my contribution to upsetting patriarchy's neatly ordered little world.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Great post, loved reading it!

Thank you for doing your amazing writing and work!

Anonymous said...

I am NOT Anonymous in comment number 1!

Sheesh, can't you see sarcasm and irony? This is how men perceive those of us who don't conform to their notions of good "feminine" behavior and looks.

I need to get a moniker.

eternal-llama said...

Renee this is a beautiful post and it captures so many of the struggles that I, and other women, have been through. Thank you for writing this. I'm actually a lot like Casual Observer above and I've struggled with self-worth so often. When I dress it's usually for utility and comfort. I love my sneakers and I hate high heels. I rarely wear makeup. None of those things make me less of a woman. This is why I love feminism. It has nothing to do with hating men. It's an alternative. It's life-affirming because it helps those of us who don't fit conventional roles find value and realize that there isn't just one way to exist in this world and nobody has the right to devalue us, or anyone else, for being ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Renee, you are such an inspiration. This blog is one of the most articulate, passionate and thought provoking ones I have found - this post is perfect. Thanks for doing what you do.

whatsername said...

It can be a lifetime of work to get to a place where you really don't see with that patriarchal lens anymore... I know I've been struggling with it for years already.

thewhatifgirl said...

I love this post. It really made me think about how I see myself and why.

But in the spirit of honesty, I admit that I'm not a fan of the sentences like, "Woman is the giver and nurturer of life." I refuse to use my ability to give life (IF I have it - fertility problems seem to run in my family) and do not see that or my nurturance of life as a central element of my womanhood; to me, it sounds like you're saying that a real woman always has someone or something dependent upon her. I also feel like it excludes those women who can't give life - women who don't have a fully functioning and/or female reproductive system. Also, my version of feminism also says that women SHOULDN'T be a mystery, that it's the patriarchy that makes us seem mysterious.

How would I define woman? I don't really know. But I also don't know if we have to or should.

Renee said...

@thewhatifgirl...while I admit that the statement is gender essentialist, it is not meant in the strictest sense that value is based on reproduction. When I think of life I think of all of the ways in which women work to maintain and sustain life. Whether this is the work we do in agriculture or the fact that even in the paid employment sphere the majority of women are employed in caregiving roles. The work of women tends to largely support life, whether or not we are mothers.

thewhatifgirl said...

That makes sense, Renee. Thank you for explaining.

Sam said...

Sorry to derail a bit, but what is that image from?

Jana said...

This will is an invaluable tool in my journey towards self acceptance. Thank you so much Renee