Monday, November 29, 2010

Trusting Myself...Or Not

One of the things that was drilled into me as a fundamentalist child is that women can’t be trusted. Aside from the women-have-PMS-and-therefore-shouldn’t-be-President “jokes” (har-d-har-har, amirite?), women in general couldn’t be trusted because they’re “emotional” and thus can’t make good decisions. In that world, women are told that they’re weak, that they’re easily led, easily influenced, and that they can’t trust themselves or other women and must, instead, trust God by trusting the man (husband, father, pastor).

It was essentially a re-packaged version of the old idea that Eve is to blame for everything. Only they’d figured out that modern women - even devoutly religious modern women - don’t like being blamed for a “sin” that may or may not have happened somewhere around 6,000 years ago (give or take a couple thousand years). So they made a “kinder” version where they blame women’s “emotions” for perceived shortcomings, rather than Eve and the apple. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that these same churches ran on the backs of women’s contributions and labor. That’s a rant for another day).

So, I grew up thinking that emotions were bad, because they forced you to make bad decisions. And they made you cry, and that made men uncomfortable. I figured that having emotions/feelings made me unhappy because I had to deal not only with the feeling itself, but also with the judgment for having the feelings in the first place. So I told myself not to feel anything. It sort of worked. Sometimes I’d crack, but it didn’t happen often – and I was glad of that. It made my life easier. For a while, anyway.

Then I left religion and started therapy and had to re-learn to trust myself and my feelings. I’ve come a long, long way since then and I’m glad. But I’m realizing – I still don’t trust other women. I don’t like being around women, I don’t like displays of affection between women, and I loathe anything that even hints at female bonding. I am afraid of the messages I think other women are sending – through body language, clothing, whatever. I am afraid of their judgment. I don’t want to get sucked in to the female world.

At the same time, I love reading the words of smart, sassy women – on APW, on Shapely Prose, on Already Pretty and the bazillion other blogs in my reader. I absolutely believe in feminism and equal marriage rights for our lesbian sisters. I like reading books by and about women. Currently, I’m reading Barbara Walker’s Restoring the Goddess: Equal Rites for Modern Women and in it, she suggests the idea that the Goddess as embodied in all women would create a kinder, gentler world than traditional patriarchy, not only for humans but for animals and the planet as well. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that idea. I think it’s mostly my own religious skepticism; I can’t really buy into the idea of yet another deity, female or not. I just can’t fathom a nurturing, kind world. I want to believe it. I’m pretty sure that if Kate Harding were President, the world would be a better place. But I’m not sure I’m ready to trust women as a whole yet.

Anyway, in thinking about all that, I sort of shocked myself, because I realized that in not trusting women, I’m also not trusting myself fully, either. I still doubt my feelings and perceptions because they might be “tainted” by my femininity. Sure, I might be emotional sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong!

Yet another thing to work on…because I don’t have enough, right?

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