Everything is a script, and I’ve been studying my role since the day I was born.
It’s an exhaustive conversation to have. I feel like the more I repeat myself the less the words have meaning. What does it mean to be a woman, and how are women pushed into being more… womanly? I was looking at a friends photos on Facebook. She is very religious and has been her entire life, and there was never any doubt that she would be anything except a happy christian woman. I enjoy her. She is always very positive, happy, she has good energy. There she is in her wedding dress. Her and her husband have pretty typical banter. She hasn’t cooked dinner yet, but the laundry is always so clean and smells so good he can hardly blame her. She’s just so good with kids. He’s had a hard day at work, so glad to have a loving wife to come home to. She works, she’s independent, she has a career, could survive on her own. But she’s his wife. That’s her thing. That’s the most important thing. It makes her beam.
One time we had a lecture about marriage that struck a cord with me. It’s one I forget a lot because I feel like it doesn’t apply to me. The less I need to use something, the easier it is to forget. The professor was discussing wants and expectations and how that can correlate to satisfaction. If you go your entire life believing that you are going to grow up, marry a man, and become a wife, you’re more likely to be happy when all those things happen to you. If it’s consistently reinforced throughout your life that women grow up, marry men, and become wives - and you see your family as models of this - you are probably more likely to want it, to desire it.
I think sometimes my life would be easier if I could slip into the role I’ve been taught to play. What if I gave up bisexuality in preference for men? What if I was contented in monogamy, for the rest of my life? What if the idea of finding one person and spending the rest of my life with them was not both terrifying and way too much responsibility but something that made my eyes glisten with dreams of pinterest boards and cake tastings? What if I wanted to be called someones “wife” and what if I wanted to get married and have kids? What if I wanted to get a boring job because I needed income and, even though it hurt, I went anyways and just kept going? What if I never asked for more, never wanted to be a nuisance? What if I never questioned my role as a woman? What if I behaved femininely all the time? What if I wore more makeup? What if I spent more on clothes than I did on books?
This isn’t to say that people who stick closer to the script are somehow ignorant, or taking the easy way out, or are secretly something other than they appear to be. My friend is perfectly happy, and the greatest strength of feminism is letting women choose the way the way want to live. But I do think wonder, for myself, how it would feel if I stopped fighting all the systems that I rest within. If I just gave up and let myself melt into the plastic form. If I did everything that everyone around me, and everything inside of me, is saying you’re supposed to do. Would there be some sigh of relief that sank down through my pores, down into each and every cell?
Or would I be instantly overcome with the grief of a life not lived with intent?