Socially, our culture has a long way to go in accepting women as fully deserving and entitled individuals. So much of what constitutes traditional femininity is a charade. A way of not being who you are, of shaping your second-rate self into a first rate copy of something more acceptable that doesn't take up so much space. Women are taught to smile when we feel like crying (or screaming), to contract ourselves into uncomfortable close-legged positions, and starve our bodies on a steady diet of shame and self-loathing. The madness never ends.
As I grow older, it gets a little better. Mainly because I am so tired of all the bullshit, and I don't care about pissing people off as much anymore. I don't care as much about my cottage cheese thighs, since I am too old to be Miss America now. And I don't care as much about pleasing others. I recently had to let a friend go because she didn't respect my feelings about a particular issue. And I have lost lovers because of my unwillingness to play the submissive female and keep my mouth shut. I am sick of being expected to be something I'm not.
This was the subject of Germaine Greer's book The Female Eunuch, which was a phenomenon when it was released in 1970. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Maybe I couldn’t make it. Maybe I don’t have a pretty smile, good teeth, nice tits, long legs, a cheeky arse, a sexy voice. Maybe I don’t know how to handle men and increase my market value, so that the rewards due to the feminine will accrue to me. Then again, maybe I’m sick of the masquerade. I’m sick of pretending eternal youth. I’m sick of belying my own intelligence, my own will, my own sex. I’m sick of peering at the world through false eyelashes, so everything I see is mixed with a shadow of bought hairs; I’m sick of weighting my head with a dead mane, unable to move my neck freely, terrified of rain, of wind, of dancing too vigorously in case I sweat into my lacquered curls. I’m sick of the Powder Room. I’m sick of pretending that some fatuous male’s self-important pronouncements are the objects of my undivided attention, I’m sick of going to films and plays when someone else wants to, and sick of having no opinions of my own about either. I’m sick of being a transvestite. I refuse to be a female impersonator. I am a woman, not a castrate.”