What Manic Pixies Do to Women
This trope has been around forever, women have been compared in literature to nature, to goddesses, and generally as an other, through which men can figure out something essential to their ever important journey forward. The truth, you'll be shocked to find, is that women are humans. (No, don't say that, that ruins it.) Gross and imperfect humans. (Fuck you, they can't be.)
The constant glorification of woman as idol and the cripplingly reality of her truth, that of humanity, leaves young girls feeling disgusted by their own bodies and the humanness (sexual desire, hunger, blemishes) of their existence. Women experience twice the rate of depression than men. While some of this can be attributed to men feeling an inability to admit to the societal "weakness" of depression; much of woman's depression could easily be attributed to her position in the world, and the contradiction of what she must present to fill her role as woman. Also maybe slightly doesn't help that 1 in 6 women are the victim of an attempted, or completed rape in their lifetimes.
When I was 16 years old I (like many 16 year old fucks) was desperate to fall in some sort of love. What scares me about looking back at my mindset, is how rooted my idea of love was, in the loss of my own autonomy. My picture of love went something like this:
Boy is mesmerized by unmatched beauty and charm of Girl (ha!)
Girl is mesmerized by unmatched intelligence and emotional depth of Boy (ha ha!)
Girl fixes broken elements of Boy (while denying all broken elements of self, by the by)
Boy adores Girl for literally only extrinsic value (my look, quirky and nonthreatening talents I possess, that's love right?)
"It is not easy to play the idol, the fairy, the faraway princess, when one feels a bloody cloth between one's legs; and, more generally, when one is conscious of the primitive misery of being a body (Simone de Beauvoir, the second sex, 357). "In the 8th grade, I took gym class and made friends with a group of about, 3 or 4 girls. Everyday after class, we would walk to the locker room, and passively change, while appraising our changing bodies against each other. Many of us, would cover different parts of ourselves (stomach, thighs, breasts) and look down at the floor while we stripped ourselves of sweaty and over-large white t shirts and basketball shorts. I'll never forget, everyday, we weighed each other on a clunky metal scale that sat in the locker room, as we happily discussed the benefits of certain numbers.
Dear 8th Grade,
I fucking hate you and so does everybody else. Why are you the worst?
One salty summer me and a close friend were walking on the beach. Wet sand was crunching and congealing in between our toes, we giggled at a stupid joke, and then her blue eyes stared straight into mine, and slowly filled with tears.
"I gained 20 pounds this year. How did that happen?"
"We're going through puberty. You just like, have thighs now. It's okay."What I have Done to Myself
42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner. We are scared, and we're told the answer is to look thin, to be beautiful, to satisfy the wants and desires of men. Even the reasons we give ourselves to not be worried about thinness, have to do with saying that what men actually like, is curvy women. This kind of reasoning, doesn't solve any sort of issue, it just highlights the problem. We can't be the perfect object, because we do gain 20 pounds in a year, because wrinkles mark our feelings on our faces, because skin will always learn to sag. We can't confuse our identity with what we look like. And I have to stop objectifying myself.
"Above all, the lie to which the adolescent girl is condemned is that she must pretend to be an object, and a fascinating one, when she senses herself as an uncertain, dissociated being, well aware of her blemishes (Simone de Beauvoir, the second sex, 358). "I still look in the mirror, and trace the patterns of my face. I still dress in ways I know will be appealing to men. I want for want for want for want for beauty. I have for so many years painted an image of myself in my head as a muse; with dark lips, cool clothes, bright hair, interesting things to say at the right time, and a coy smile in my back pocket to use at my discretion. Only now am I realizing that I'm no muse, I'm the sad boy writing in the corner. No woman can be happy as long as she identifies as the other, as the object. To be object is impossible, subject is the only truth we can ever attain.
Women now outnumber men in college enrollment. We don't have to be a slave to male desire. We can create our own lives now, in ways that even our mothers weren't able to.
But I can still see a shared sadness in all women I have met. A quiet lonely look, even (if especially) in those that look at other women as competition, even in those that live their lives differently than I do. We are considered the other still, from that which conquers and creates. so fuck that. Let's make some shit, and do some shit, and keep getting better. Because we don't have to turn ourselves into a boring object of desire. We live in an age and a country where we can be whatever the fuck we want to, and that's horrifying, and freeing. That's what freedom is.