Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Girls

I've always been a girl's girl. I've always been more comfortable speaking with my own sex rather than the opposite, sharing vices and embarrassments and all the commonalities that stem from the shared physical and emotional experience of being born a girl.

We're bat shit crazy, most of the time. The other moments we are busy asking for advice, listening, and doing what we want anyway. The smartest of girls can be so dumb sometimes - we all have our moments. Acclaimed writers Susan Sontag and Anais Nin are no exception, and as I've been absorbed in reading their diaries and essays, their struggle to define themselves as women, writers and people is most present in their writing.

But there is no formula (is there ever?). All of my girlfriends are so distinct from each other, every time we come up with a theory to generalise our behaviour there are always more exceptions than proofs of the rule. We're just people after all. Yet to say we're the same as men is to essentialise and dismiss differences that actually exist.

Sometimes I think we are more emotional than men and can't separate the physicality of affection without getting attached. But then I see girls treating guys the way supposedly 'only guys' used to treat my friends, and there goes that idea. They're not acting like men, they are just acting like people.

Men are not bastards. Women are not bitches. We are all people, some of which happen to be assholes that will in turn and in time break hearts, steal innocence and temporarily rob your faith in your preferred sex. Depending on how many relationships/relations you go through.

But despite all of this, there's something about girls. Who are we? And what do we want?
Written over almost forty years ago, I've taken a few paragraphs from Anais Nin's essays 'Eroticism in Women' and 'The New Woman'. It got me thinking maybe she was just a great predictor of the future.

"There are women who are restive with the passive role allotted to them. There are women who dream of taking, invading, possessing as man does. It is the liberating force of our awareness today that we would like to start anew and give each woman her own individual pattern, not a generalized one."

"To question all histories, statistics, confessions, autobiographies, and biographies, and to create our own individual pattern. For this we are obliged to accept what our culture has so long denied, the need of an individual introspective examination. This alone will bring out the women we are, our reflexes, likes, dislikes, and we will go forth without guilt or hesitations, towards the fulfilment of them...But first of all, we have to know who we are."

"The woman of the future, who is really being born today, will be a woman completely free of guilt for creating and for her self-development. She will be a woman in harmony with her own strength, not necessarily called masculine, or eccentric, or something unnatural. I imagine she will be very tranquil about her strength and her serenity, a woman who will know how to talk to children and to the men who sometimes fear her.."

"The woman of the future will never try to live vicariously through the man, and urge and push him to despair, to fulfil something that she should really be doing herself. So that is my first image - she is not aggressive, she is serene, she is sure, she is confident, she is able to develop her skills, she is able to ask for space for herself."

"I want this quality of the sense of the person, the sense of direct contact with human beings to be preserved by woman, not as something bad, but as something that could make a totally different world where intellectual capacity would be fused with intuition and with a sense of the personal."

"It would be nice if men could share that too, of course. And they will, on the day they recognise the femininity in themselves, which is what Jung has been trying to tell us. I was asked once how I felt about men who cried, and I said that I loved men who cried, because it showed they had feeling."

"The day that woman admits what we call her masculine qualities, and man admits his so-called feminine qualities, will mean that we admit we are androgynous, that we have many personalities, many sides to fulfill."

"A woman can be courageous, can be adventurous, can be all these things."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I'm shaving for a cure

My mum wasn't exactly thrilled when I told her I was shaving my head. It's probably correct to say I had never disappointed her in my life up until that point. The point where she realised she would then have 5 children - 2 boys, 2 girls and 1 androgynous-looking middle child (that would be me, errr.. Hello!). The reactions vary from looks of curiosity to barely disguised worry.

When a friend chopped off all her hair a few years ago she was asked, 'Who broke up with you?' Dramatic hair changes are usually indicative of life-altering experiences, the end of some relationship or the beginning of some new era. I joke about my hair a lot, say that I'm going to get dreadlocks and join the Goa hippy community of India. That's a joke by the way, this though, isn't a punchline. I am shaving my head, not because I want to outdo the half-shaved-head hipsters but for a few, simple reasons.

We only get one body in this life. We can ink it, scar it, abuse it, make it fat, make it skinny, make it have a six pack but we don't get an exchange or refund. We're stuck with it. And we try and keep it healthy as long as possible. But that doesn't always happen. Sometimes, cancer happens. Health is one of those things you don't appreciate until it's taken away from you, or somebody you know. And cancer is one of those things that will affect somebody you know, whoever you are.

Hair, that grows back. People don't always make it back from cancer. Sometimes they do, and they go on to be survivors. Sometimes they don't, and that's that. I don't know where the logic is in a lot of things, don't know where the logic is behind cutting all your hair off and taking a step towards fighting cancer but there's a little string that links the two.

Maybe doing this tiny, little, temporary thing will make some tiny, little, permanent difference. That's all you can hope for really. So that's what I'm doing - shaving for a cure. And I hope if you can sponsor and support me - just click the link here.

And I'm dedicating this 'campaign' to a grandma of mine who I only met last year. As far as grandmas go she's pretty freaking awesome. She has a walking cane that's bedazzled with jewels and tried to teach me salsa in my living room. Shortly after we saw her she was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through treatment. She shaved her hair off because she didn't want it to fall out from the chemo. And in the grand scheme of that, shaving your hair is really not so brave at all. So lola, this ones for you.

'Cause tiny, little things make all the difference.

xx