The Elephant in the Room

On the blog, by Denise Mills

I cringe when I look back on any writing I’ve done where I talk about being fairly content in life. Not because it’s a lie. I cringe because it paints only a partial truth – I am MOSTLY happy. You must not forget the MOSTLY. It was a long road to get to MOSTLY from RARELY. Why am I yelling?

I’m still not completely ‘there’, wherever that is. I’m not Eckhart-Freakin’-Tolle.

Every time I think I am ‘there’, something happens to show me I’m not. It shows me to look again: deal with this, destroy this old belief system, forgive this person, forgive myself, forgive the world. I keep doing it. It gets easier not harder, and every time I tell myself it’s ‘hard’ I remind myself that I’m full of shit – hard is living the old way, trying to constantly create myself to be accepted by others.

Why? Because you can never create yourself to be good enough. There is always another thing… one more failure… one more way you suck, just a little bit. Especially for women. Gasp – here we go. She’s one of THOSE. (Hold that thought.)

I have male friends who, like most of us, are very much a product of their culture. Left unobserved and unquestioned, why would you be any other way? If I say the word ‘sexism’, it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull – they become angry and defensive. It’s as though they believe that by acknowledging ‘women’s problems’ it will take away from ‘men’s problems’.

It won’t, of course. They are just different.

So, I ignore it. Just like I ignore little jokes that sneak into everyday conversation. “Women! God, next lifetime I’m coming back a gay man!” or “Women! You’re all crazy!” Oh yes, it’s funny that we are such a massive inconvenience, so inherently stupid… This of course, I do not say either. I go for a walk, because I am a ‘nice’ person. I am my mother’s daughter.

I know these men are not ‘bad’. Everyone just wants to be seen, and men suffer too. Not any less than women do, just not in the exact same way.

Men are struggling with their role as a man, but normally are not trying to deny themselves or shrink themselves in a way so that the opposite gender will accept them, and see some sort of value in them. Many are trying to artificially expand, rather than shrink. To build another layer. And I don’t think they do it for the opposite gender, but for themselves. They think, “What is it to be a man? How am I supposed to create myself? What do I need to achieve, or how do I act, in order to have value?” I could be wrong, but this is what I’ve observed.

The way society is constructed, women’s role within relationships is far more soul-destroying than men’s role within traditional relationships, for most people. Women have often been indoctrinated to obtain their value through what men think of them.

It’s all suffering, just different. One doesn’t deny the other. Little jokes about the stupidity of women normalise sexism, and are they really the small things? Or are they the massive, stinkin’ fat elephant in the room no-one wants to acknowledge?

What a war we face, and it’s with ourselves, not men. Of course, men are perpetuating it, and a lot of women are, too. I am often one of them. It’s become so normal that we don’t even notice the socially constructed gender roles we try to fit within, and it’s hard to break the mould. But there I go again, with that word; It’s probably not hard at all, if we just take care of our own shit.

Here’s the bad thing I shouldn’t admit: I don’t want to fight the war against sexism. I’m not interesting in fighting anything. I just want to be myself. To not fear the words that come out of my own mouth, to not fear men’s response to them. To not feel beaten down by subconscious behaviours that take me back to old thought processes.

We are all a product of our environment until we notice that, and change it. But I don’t think we can change other people by hating them. Didn’t Martin Luther King Jr. say something about this? “Only love can do that.”

I think all I can do, and all anyone can do, is be the best human I can be. I don’t need to politely giggle at sexist comments and have found no response is the best response. I just need to keep letting go of the concept of meeting anyone else’s idea of who I should be, and instead, just love.

MOSTLY myself.


One comment

  1. “What is it to be a man? How am I supposed to create myself? What do I need to achieve, or how do I act, in order to have value?” Astonishing writing. Read the article three times. Will go back for aother read for sure.

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