Oh, To Be A Woman....
“I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, His pleasure, His desire, His life, His work, His sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at His time, His bidding.”
What I am drawn to in this quotation, and why I come back to it, critically, at least once a year, is the strong sense of self-awareness Nin exhibits, as well as the conviction and commitment to this idea of being a woman. Nin’s work was often referenced by the feminist movement, though she denied being a feminist. She didn’t mind her words being used, she just refrained from stomping the ground and being vocal with the “Rah Rah Feminism, I am woman, Hear me roar!!” rhetoric of the 60s/70s. I’ve written about her before because I find that she has often articulated many of my own views about my womanhood and feminity.
I want to unpack this a bit, because many may wonder “How can this way of thinking be embraced by a feminist?” and it is one of the reasons I started this blog.
It is important to me that I live in what I refer to as My Truth. My Truth is the paradigm through which I experience myself, my life, and the world around me. What I know, having learned this over the years, is that many people struggle with not only identifying the truth about themselves, their needs, and their wants, but also with fully embracing those things and then living and embodying them in this Truth paradigm. There are many reasons why this is hard for people, but it is mostly related to external expectations and pressures. The expectation that people will conform to established societal norms and the pressure to do so absolutely challenge anyone who seeks to like in his/her Truth.
It takes courage, born out of the facing of and overcoming of fear. Fear that stems from not wanting to be outcast, not wanting to feel isolated, not wanting to feel deviant or different from those we care about and whose opinions we respect. The fear stems from not wanting to go against established norms, realities, and other “truths” that we’ve been forced to embrace over our lifetimes. So when one reaches a point when one begins to believe that what one had been fed isn’t authentically applicable to one’s own desires and wants, one begins to seek truth beyond the norm.
That’s when trouble arises.
It took me a very long time to accept that a woman as strong, intelligent, focused and determined, courageous, ambitious, and outspoken as I know myself to be, could relate to what Nin spoke of in the above quotation. It made no sense to me…for years. For years, I rejected that part of myself, having been convinced that it is not the way a “free” woman should feel. In my teen years, I was a freedom fighting, take no shit, neck rolling, finger snapping strong young Black woman. Inside, I craved something I was too young to understand but had had a taste of after being involved with an older man. As I got older, the craving increased, the compulsion evolved and I found myself being drawn to Dominant men who could both respect and admire the woman I was becoming and wanted to be and dominate me in ways I didn’t have the language or understanding to articulate.
Luckily, I was introduced early on to people in the BDSM lifestyle and I found the language with which I could speak about who I was inside. Revelations happened, epiphanies experienced, and Truth was uncovered. I knew who I was, who I could no longer avoid being. Ultimately, I would go on to fully embrace My Truth and begin the path to learning more about how I could better live in it, manifest it, and express/share it with others. After all, I am outspoken and I am a woman with great pride in the various facets of what make me, ME. I am Black, I am a Woman, I am Pansexual, I am a Far Left Liberal, I am a Mother, and I am a woman who submits and surrenders to the strength of men.
How the hell does that happen to a feminist woman?
Don’t I want women to have equal rights? To be free of patriarchal oppression? To have the same access to opportunities and resources as men? Don’t I want women to be free from the bondage of discrimination and oppression? How does this work? How do these things go together?
I made peace with this because I understand the difference between these ways of being. One way of being means forced to live in a system or society that oppresses you against your will, that denies you access to opportunities and resources, that strips you of your choice and freedom, and forces you into an inferior status just because you are a woman. The other way allows you every opportunity to explore who you are, what you feel, and make choices based on those discoveries. It allows you to craft an existence to which you fully consent and from which you can withdraw at any moment. This reconciliation was important for me because I felt stuck and almost forced to choose a side. I know, now, that I don’t have to. That it can be “both/and” and not simply “either/or”.
And this where the problems come up for women and men who have very narrow views and understanding of what feminism is and how it relates to being a woman in a heterosexual relationship (not even speaking to the BDSM Lifestyle). The assumption still remains, and I see it every day, that feminist women don’t respect men, don’t love men, don’t want to be with men, can’t take care of men, want to emasculate men, want to dominate men, etc. It grinds my gears, but I can no longer argue every man and woman who feels this way. In my opinion, if you wanted to elevate your understanding, you would; people are often content in their ignorance.
What I can do is offer explanation of My Truth, my views, my experiences and hope to articulate what many women feel deep inside, but cannot seem to express. Maybe they’re not comfortable with the duality of such an existence. Maybe everything they’ve learned has taught them to reject either side. Maybe they are simply afraid that if they express these things, men won’t want them. It is a risk, but isn’t living in Your Truth far more important? It should be. Being who you are, as a woman, living authentically in Your Truth, is probably the most courageous act of affirmation you will ever experience. You are exactly who you are, with your nuances, idiosyncrasies, contradictions, hypocrisies, etc.
Live in it. Explore it. Perpetually ponder your choices. Evolve every day. Reflect every night.
Understand that you have the RIGHT, as a free woman with the empowerment of choice, to live in whatever way makes you the happiest when you lay your head down at night to go to sleep.