Only got ten minutes to save the world...

Between the new baby and the Ph.D., this grad student only has ten minutes a day to philosophize culture. Bear with me as I tell you how to think...

all within a ten-minute writing limit.



Feeling Pretty and Other Feminist Shortcomings

Let me tell you about one of the most beautiful encounters of my life: once, in a bar, a lovely stranger followed me with his eyes and my eyes followed back; we passed in a hallway and meaningfully meaninglessly touched; finally, as he headed toward the door on his way out, he approached me, and in front of all of my friends as well as my current boyfriend, placed in my hand a folded love note.

I won't quote the note exactly. Some things are too sacred to spill across this cyber ether. But in summary the note read, "You enchant me." That is all: no phone number, no overt come-on, no plan to meet later. A compliment upon my beauty, for what else of me had he seen? A compliment upon my face, my body, my physical me: that is all.

I remembered the note tonight when I considered what elements I need to pack into my "grab in a fire" safe. 

Why do I shelve this moment within my vault of beautiful moments? Why do I shelve it alongside the time when, while weeping in my car at a traffic light, a man in a Jeep pulled up beside me, caught my attention, and asked me what was wrong? Why do I shelve this should-be superficiality alongside the time another human being recognized my tears?

Philosophically, I rail against this kind of behavior--this swooning at your own prettiness, this attempt to become something a man (specifically, a man) will find worthwhile of his gaze; this pride at receiving the gaze. What, I beg you, is romantic about that god-damned enemy, the gaze? It owns us, keeps us wearing eyeliner and typing notes for a male colleague that is stupider and better paid than we.

What does it mean when someone like me, so educated in feminist theory, so steeped with resentment and egoistic certainty that my own genius can unwind the threads of "all those fairy tales that drugged us" until I don't feel drugged anymore, what does it mean when even the acutely theoretically aware feminist cannot help but enjoy a love note from a stranger written only about her face, her body, her physical me?

It's a cliche, but like most cliches contains an element of reality: just because you're aware of the games governing these relationships, these momentary sparks, doesn't mean you don't want to play, doesn't mean you don't want to be set aflame.

<minute ten.>

p.s. Thanks to Bright Eyes for the "fairy tales" quote.


Post a Comment


Powered by Blogger.