29 March 2006

Lost and Found

I had another session with my counselor yesterday. I haven't spoken much about those sessions because they're private and I'm trying to process a lot of what goes on there. But I really like her, which is a good thing and I feel as though I'm "making progress," whatever that means.

Yesterday I said something that I'm still trying to figure out. It was this, "If I drew a picture of myself, I wouldn't have a mouth. I don't feel like anyone listens to me and I don't feel like I have anything to say." We talked about that for a quite a while and agreed that I need to think about it and try to figure it out. Because obviously (with this blog - which she reads) I do have a lot to say and I say it well and people do listen. But the statement came from somewhere ... there is some part of me that has lost it's voice.

Then this evening, I read this article about Perfect Girls. It's about the "third wave" of feminism and how our culture has created an unhealthy subculture for young women in which they must be perfect in order to be acceptable. I'm not sure how much of the article's premise I buy into. But I do know this, I remember that in my 30's I looked around one day and realized that I'd been told a big fat lie.

If the article is about the third wave of feminism, I guess I'm the second wave. I came of age in late 1970's when Annie Hall fashions were all the rage. You had to dress like a man in order to make it in a man's world. My mother and my teachers and the culture around me told my friends and me that we could do anything we wanted to AND be mothers too. In fact, we should do that in order to be good women. Successful women rose to the top of their careers AND had children ... they just popped 'em out in the board room instead of the potato patch. The less time off you took, the more manly (oops ... I mean womanly) you were. Of course, some women looked at that scenario and decided to not have children. And many put off childbearing for several years. But most hard core feministas will still tell you that a "real" woman is only fulfilled in having children AND working too. That all of our problems may be solved if only there were an adequate federal childcare policy.

So I dutifully went to college even though I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I got a degree in something that I still have no use for even though when I was really honest with myself and in my heart of hearts I wanted to be an artist. But a real woman cannot be an artist. Because that is not a career. A career is being a lawyer or a politician or a somebody-who-wears-a-suit-with-stockings-everyday. In the last letter I wrote to my beloved grandfather before he died, I promised him that I would go to law school and become an international lawyer. I never even sat for the LSAT's. One broken promise to myself after another, trying to measure up and be a real woman. Trying to be acceptable under these new rules which made things so much harder for women under the guise of making us freer.

I haven't yet found that part of my voice which is lost. But I will. I know it's buried somewhere under the lies I've believed. I'll find it soon.


Blogger kate said...

Keep looking, Sonja. We'll be here listening.

3/30/2006 03:39:00 PM  

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