Who Is Interested in Holding Me Down?

David Bellamy sent me a very interesting article which is written in the form of a letter addressed to girls. Here are some excerpts from it [emphasis mine]:

You may not “naturally” be interested in domesticity, piety, purity and submission, and they rely on your commitment to those things to order their worlds. Their actions, from one end of the spectrum to the other, are designed to fill you with self-doubt and, ultimately, fear — either bodily or spiritual — because otherwise you, and the young boys around you, will be fully aware of your strength and potential.

Because of this, they single-mindedly focus their attention on you, your body, your clothes, your hair, your abilities, your physical freedom. When their “manners” and “morals” are not universally applicable, but different for boys and girls, you can be sure that this is why. They seek to teach you, subtly, through small slights and gendered expectations, that you are “different,” weak, unworthy, incapable. The sadness is that, in their perception, if you are none of these things, then they are not strong, worthy and capable.

In the article, “they” stand for religious men. However, when every single one of the things listed here was done to me, it was not done by religious men. It was done by women who had no knowledge of or interest in any religion. Nor was it done to please or serve any man like the article suggests.

I’m not denying that patriarchally minded men, whether religious or not (religion is as relevant here as is their hair color*), do a lot to keep the traditional gender structures in place. There is, however, the exact same number of women who benefit greatly from those patriarchal structures. Such women see any female who subverts the patriarchy with any aspect of her personality or behavior as an existential threat. I insist that I have not met a single man who has condemned me and vilified me nearly as much for my professional and financial success and sexual freedom as my female friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances. Contrary to what the article suggests, when men did that, it was always a half-hearted attempt to please women. Of course, other people have different stories. But this is my story, and I want it to count as much as anybody else’s.

I know that it is tempting to assign an easily identifiable enemy one can blame for one’s marginalization. Blame it all on religious men, what can be easier or more attractive?

Things are more complex than that, though. People who maintain and impose strictly defined, traditional gender roles are people who benefit from the patriarchal mode of existence. Those people can be male, female, religious, non-religious. The patriarchy is not a system that oppresses women. It is a system that oppresses people who can’t or won’t conform to traditional gender roles. The patriarchy is not a system that is upheld by men. It is upheld by people who benefit from the existence of traditional gender roles.

* I grew up in a fully atheist country where being a victim of rape was the most shameful thing you can be and got you shamed and vilified by everybody, where every other woman was a victim of sexual violence, where women who had sex outside of marriage were referred to as “damaged goods” and often brutalized by their family members, where raping a completely sexually ignorant woman on her wedding night was the most normal thing to do. So tell me once more how religion causes hateful attitudes towards women. Remember, we are talking about a society that had been atheist for generations and the real people whose stories I described here (as well as their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents) never even saw the Bible, the Torah or the Koran or visited a religious service.

Singlehood Is Priceless

The only people who have a chance of creating an intensely happy relationship are those who enjoy living alone and dig being single. Those who are terrified of singlehood will, in all likelihood, end up in miserable relationships. Such people never manage to end unhappy relationships and can never move on because the fear of being single makes them cling to something that clearly doesn’t work.

“But what if there is nobody better out there?” is the pathetic motto of such people’s lives.

A person who digs being single has an answer to that, “Then I just go on being happily single. Yippee-doo!”

If a happily single person meets somebody s/he likes, s/he will find it easy to defend his or her interests and boundaries. The fear of “what if I say / do / choose whatever I want and get dumped for that?” is simply not there because there is no value in being in a relationship for the sake of it. Only a happy, fulfilling relationship that is good enough to convince the lover of singlehood to abandon the contented single existence will be acceptable.

Of course, if you cannot be happy living with just yourself, then how do you expect anybody else to be happy living with you?

What’s Good About All-Inclusive Resorts?

Reader Z asks:

Seriously though – can someone who likes all inclusive explain why? I think I would get claustrophobic. I´m all for not cooking but do not understand the attraction of the all inclusive concept.

As a huge fan of all-inclusive resorts, I can say the following:

An all-inclusive resort is my favorite kind of vacation. I don’t have to do anything, except lie on the beach drooling. It’s total relaxation because everything is resolved and done for you. There is also a very well-defined rhythm and a clear structure to life at such a resort. Chaotic environments (which, of necessity, accompany any kind of a more active vacation) make me very tired. I can only feel rested within a rigidly repetitive and structured framework. If you think about what my life has been since its very early stages, you’ll understand where this comes from (fall of the USSR, 100% a day inflation, bandit wars, multiple changes of the entire currency system, entrance into capitalism, emigration, immediate divorce and becoming a de facto guardian of a teenager on the day of the divorce, poverty, living between two countries for 5 years, a long-distance relationship, another emigration, packing and moving many times, traveling between countries every two months.)

People say, “What’s the point of a vacation where you don’t learn or see anything new?” I have to say, folks, after all of this change I’ve experienced and witnessed, I’m really into giving myself a couple of weeks a year simply to digest all of it without having any new information come my way.

There is nothing like this a Caribbean all-inclusive resort in the US, unfortunately. Every vacation involves either renting a car or staying in a city which is not at all relaxing. I find that only complete inactivity really helps me rest.

Last summer we had a great vacation in Florida, but:

1. There were only 2 restaurants with eatable food within the walking distance. And only one of them requested formal attire. A resort has 10 and they all insist people dress formally for dinner.

2. There were cars streaming behind our backs as we sat on the beach. This is hardly relaxing. And the need to inhale noxious fumes as one sits on the beach is very annoying. Plus there was a construction going on close to our hotel, and we kept hearing construction site noises.

These are grave defects.

And to people who want to giggle at my love for this type of vacation (I don’t mean reader Z, I mean other people who know who they are), I can only say that I wish you were at least 20% as self-aware as I am and as capable of creating restful environments for yourself that would be based on your psychological makeup and personality type.

Obviously, this is not a vacation for everybody. But people who have lived their lives in the state of constant upheaval and insecurity are perfectly suited for it.

I also want to say to any well-meaning fool who is likely to blabber about the “exploitation” of 3rd World people. Do that on my blog, and this 3rd World person who has no time for your ridiculous self-aggrandizement at the expense of 3rd World people will bite your head off.