Saturday, March 19, 2011

Being A Woman

     I recently saw a movie called Dangerous Beauty, and it was one of those movies that I love so much I have to watch a second time.  I researched the life of the woman it was based on, Veronica Franco, and fell more in love with her.

    Through most of my life through teaching and example I have learned to unconsciously despise women, and despise being one.  Some of my alters are male, some are androgynous, though most are female and a few are extremely feminine.  If I am honest with myself it is these last that are the hardest for me to come to terms with.  Most of my pre-teen and teen years I was chubby and awkward, and I believed so much that all I wanted to do was lose weight and be pretty.  I lost weight in college and found myself horrified with the new attention it was garnering.  I adopted baggy clothes and a baseball cap, and much to many alters' delight, men's jeans.  There were alters that were male or tomboyish or just plain tough, that felt so much more at home in male clothes, acting as 'one of the guys', which some in fact are.  Before at home these played a huge part in survival, being the 'boy' at home let me work for my dad to escape my mother who I did not get along with at all, and to side with the most powerful being in the house, my father.  Being allowed to be a boy earned me affection and respect that the other women in my house did not have, probably because I was actually a cheeky girl with the nerve to be male.  When these alters were out, they were treated as men and trained as men.  I was repeatedly given the impression that it was not good to be a girl, and that I was lucky that he was training me to think like a man.  The alters that were male or tough female, learned to despise weakness, aka anything soft and girly.
    The alters that would be in the percieved 'weak' category; the feminine girls, women, and children were the ones that came out during the abuse.  I do not think it was possible for any of the 'tough' alters to be aware of these others.  It was so against their nature, I do not think it would be possible for them to recognize themselves as vulnerable, and so they shut that part out very tightly, leaving the abused alters with no defense.  In the minds of the tough alters, according to their training, anyone who was weak enough to get hurt deserved what they got.  A big step when everyone first became aware of everyone else was learning to accept everyone, and it is still a struggle at times.
     That is why I love this movie and this person, because she loves being a woman and all the aspects of it and refuses to apologize or be ashamed of herself.  She is incredibly feminine, yet she does not see herself as weak or inferior in any way, and gives incredible arguments in womens' defense, from her position as an educated courtesan and poet in Venice in the 16th century.  Wow!
"When we too are armed and trained, we can convince men that we have hands, feet, and a heart like yours; and although we may be delicate and soft, some men who are delicate are also strong; and others, coarse and harsh, are cowards. Women have not yet realized this, for if they should decide to do so, they would be able to fight you until death; and to prove that I speak the truth, amongst so many women, I will be the first to act, setting an example for them to follow."
—Veronica Franco
     Always in trying to come to terms with the effects of sexual abuse, I struggle with the fear of being helpless in that position.  "It could happen again" is the fear that I cannot shake.  Why could it happen again?  Because I'm a woman.  Because I have learned so thoroughly by such harsh lessons that women can always be hurt.  I have learned this lesson so well that I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I am a woman.  I am not helpless.  I'm 5'9, I have a green belt in judo, a blue belt in karate, an orange belt in tae-kwon-do, a small collection of knives and throwing stars, and some experience in archery and gun shooting.  When my angry alter is out, a woman by the way, I see people shrink back from me.  But I know it is not enough, because I have been so embedded with the belief that I can't defend myself, if the time comes when I need to, I won't be able to.  Contrary to what I had been taught, there is nothing inferior or helpless about women except the belief they carry in their heads that they are.  And I haven't quite gotten rid of that belief yet.
     When I left home for good, my world had shattered, and so had the set of beliefs I was kept in of what I could and could not do.  Though I haven't come to completely accept it yet, I know in the back of my head that there is very little I cannot do.  There is no reason why I cannot be beautiful and like pink and flowers and pretty things.  There is no reason why I can't be dangerous and strong and fight.  I don't need to be male for any of that, it is all part of being a woman.


WidowSpiders said...

"Honor what you did to survive." I don't know who said it, but she was spot on. It could also be said, "honor who you became to survive."

Wonderful post.

annette said...

I think that was Laura Davis, or Bass, somewhere in that book "The Courage to Heal". An excellent book, thank you.