Saturday, September 3, 2011

A new model for women

If you read the many comments on my last post, you will notice that some of them are, shall we say, far from loving. While I was happy to have some interaction going on in the beginning--I always wonder if anyone except a few close friends reads my blog--towards the end I found the comments to be painful. A friend was being attacked, and while I value freedom of speech I could no longer sit by and watch.

I stopped writing in my blog a few years ago for the same reason. Some unknown guys were attacking me every time I wrote. They weren't discussing the issues, but instead were telling me what an old hag I was, how I was flat chested, on and on. I was surprised to find that these comments really threw me off, that they hit the core of who I believed myself to be. I believed myself to be attractive, desirable, etc. The comments served to wake me up to the fact that I had given my life force to maintain that image, but it was time for the image to shatter.

Since then I have noticed the misogyny that exists in the world. I didn't notice it when I was young, looked good, and men were after me sexually. But I started noticing it in my mid-fifties. I noticed that men had stopped smiling at me, and that I had become invisible. That was the best case scenario. The worst case was that I was being attacked for speaking my mind.

So what to do? Do I shrivel up into a corner and keep quiet to stay safe? What kind of a life is that? Or, like Shandi, do I say that what you think of me is none of my business, and go out and live a full life speaking my truth? This culture seems to have only a couple of role models for women: Being sexy, gorgeous and young, in which case you can say any absurdity and everyone still adores you; or being motherly, loving, safe, and quiet. Personally it would be stupid of me to try to be the former, that's a losing battle. And motherly, loving, safe and quiet just aint my type.

So time to create some new role models for women. One of them is the outrageous, older woman who is outspoken and doesn't care what others think of her. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.


Dara said...

Thank you Despina, for bringing this subject up. I hope there are many thoughtful comments and a rich discussion.

I agree there are few archetypes for women in our mainstream culture. But I don't fit into any types listed here either, especially the young, desirable (aka fertile), or the safe loving mother (who did her duty to propagate the species). Yes, I'm mid-fifties and "older" by society's standards, but I'm not particularly outrageous and don't want the pressure of needing to be outspoken in order to prove my worth since I'm no longer a hot babe. That feels like another merry-go-round and I just got off ones in my marriage, the corporate world, and in always trying to project a successful/competent/smart/got-it-together image so people like me.

My practice these days is to, as much as possible, be who and what I am in each moment, without a thought of what anyone thinks of me, and without any image or identity to project and maintain. As I leave the safety of the country and re-engage with the world, Life is giving me plenty of opportunities to see where I'm still hooked!!

Shandi said...

Beautifully said! Each of us is really so unique, with our own
gifts to share.

Knowing my purpose gives me a sense
of confidence that doesn't fade with the years.

I hope to continue to inspire, encourage, and support until I take
my last breath.

I'm thankful to have enjoyed
magical moments with friends and
lovers throughout my life.

I'm also thankful to have come through serious pain and depression
to the other side, and can now help

I can be outspoken, but more than that I'm willing to take a stand
for my priorities and values.

I want to be able to distance myself from situations or people
that feel toxic to me. Sometimes
it takes awhile.

Deb said...

I’ve pondered this clash of the ages since, at 39, an Ivey-league marketing director tossed me from a grunge rock marketing meeting even before it started, saying: “I wouldn’t understand the music because I was too old….” Grunge was then and this is what I’ve got now…we will all, men and women, struggle to remain relevant as we grow older and then old. But make no mistake, so long as we are in the material world, power, be it the power of sex, wealth, desire, influence, etc. is the currency of that world. As beautiful women we wield a ton of power that is sooo easy to leverage. So as our beauty fades, the questions is, what else have you got?

Popi. said...

I loved your last blog very much. It hit some chords in my existence. I do not know what or who I am anymore.

I just read Deb's, I think, comment and I was wondering the same thing. After our youth and easy existence, thanks partly to our looks, what is left? I do not want even to think about it. But, I also refuse to keep my insecurities to my self. I want to know what other females in the same predicament as mine think or do.

Thanks to men like Gunther, we struggle even more. They marginalize us, ridicule us, either openly and directly, or behind our bak.

I want to believe that opinions like his, because many more share them, do not affect me. They usually do not.

I found myself being down though, after my mini confrontation with this individual. Shandi thinks that she would "discard" him like a used tissue? His answer was so bad and to the point, I will not repeat it, because I agreed with him and pain was twisting my intestines.

We should discuss our issues among ourselves and leave poisonous men like him out. Do not validate comments like his by responding. Ignoring him is the best reaction to his resentment towards females.

Like Despina, I am working on not hitting back with both guns blazing. I still had to "react" lightly, but firmly in this case.

He still managed to puncture my "self esteem."

I will learn not to identify with any model. I am not and never has been the "weaker" sex. I will just be a female, who is trying to be happy with what she has and no "label" at all.

I will just be.(I stole the expression from my 7 yr. old.) Am I pathetic or what?

Ladies, do not stop sharing comments and ideas.

Despina Gurlides said...

This is great, girlfriends! I love that we are having a conversation from different parts of the country: Virginia, Florida, Cleveland, and of course California.

Please let's make this a forum for discussion. You have inspired me.

Love you all!

Shandi said...

It can be difficult for beautiful
women to see their inner beauty
because the world responds to the
image it can see. And it's pretty
normal for us to rely on that to
get our needs and desires met.

There will always be someone, male or female that ridicules or marginalizes us, but we don't have to do it to ourselves.

I don't believe that if someone cares about me they would do this.

If we're insecure, any negative
comment directed to us, can pull us
down into self doubt. It really
depends on where we are with ourselves.

I learned early on that it's not
up to me to try to please people.
And I can't control them either.
One person wants me to do this,
another wants me to do that. It
can go on and on. Someone is
always wanting something different
from us.

In my lifetime, I've discovered
that most people don't trust themselves. This may stem from
parental judgments.

If you are relying on your beauty,
it's time to take stock of your
other gifts, and discover your
purpose. Is it to entertain, heal,
organize, create, motivate, direct,
transform, beautify, inspire, etc.?
What resonates with your being?

As for Gunther, and others like
him, we need to see through our
attraction, and we do, when we're

I gave Gunther too much by responding, and then I reached my
limit. That's when I realized that
I had used him as I would a tissue,
and it was time to discard it.

I'm interested in what you agreed
with, and the pain you experienced.
Are you willing to share that?

Your opinion and feelings are


Popi. said...

Shandi, thanks for "validating" me in a way, by the simple interest you showed about my opinion regarding a subject that is fairly new to me.

I am not and has never been a "beauty." Despina is too kind to refer to me as that. Men always responded to my sexuality and that paired with a very aggressive personality, got me a lot in life.

My insecurities started stemming from me, as you mentioned very accurately. Only people, who I do not know or care, make cruel comments about our aging and being less useful, in front of me.

Being with a very handsome, successful, younger, desirable by all partner, does not help either. Granted, he never offended me once, about anything, but my spoiled and full of entitlement attitude. He still thinks I am the most beautiful thing or person he has laid (expression correct or not?) his eyes on. He protects my feelings and self doubt in a fierce way.

Still, some young Turks, like Gunther, come in the scene and remind me of my insecurities. I defend myself, as you did. They always win, because society's general reaction towards an aging female, reflects his image of us. That is when I bring in the "big guns" besides my mouth, in this case his boss, and I hide behind his back, while he rips him a second a-hole.

Yes, I do have some passions I would like to pursue, even though I am still recuperating from a heavy duty disease.

I will try, to start giving credit to myself for every good thing I do for my self or others.

I will try to be less materealistic and more productive. I will not allow any negative comments to get under my skin. They usually do not, I brought this pain on to myself. It is difficult being with a non-aging, younger than me demi-God, who blinds and controls many around him with his beauty, charm, accomplishments and power.

How is that for a beginning manifesto?

I am not as tough as Despina thinks, but still fairly tougher than the average female. Time to rise to the challenge one more time.

Thank you for making me relevant to the discussion. I love Despina's blogs, but many ideas go "over my head," because I am more earth bound, than metaphysical.

Shandi said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings
and your energy.
It's interesting that others see you as beautiful, but you yourself don't.
A highly sexual woman can be seen as beautiful and desirable.
Sexual energy is life- giving, creative juice, and who wouldn't want to play in that arena?

I've been under the assumption that
people who are "sexy" are also
confident, but maybe this isn't so.
Or maybe their confidence is only
in that niche?

I never considered myself beautiful, but I saw myself as an
attractive woman, and almost always
got what I went after.

It never mattered that some might
not be attracted to me because I
know that everyone has different tastes, as do I.

There will always be people with a
need to offend and discount. This is most likely from insecurity. We
have no control over them. The only
control we have is to put distance between them and us.

After I separated from my husband of 19 years, I only had younger lovers. One man was 15 years younger. I wasn't attracted to the
older men because they seemed too
conservative, possessive, etc. I
wanted to be with evolved men.

It's interesting that you feel
insecure, yet are spoiled and have
entitlement attitude. I guess when
we get everything we want, we tend
to believe we deserve it....and we
do! But yet the fear lurks....

It seems that you fear losing what
you have in your partner, as aging changes your physical aspects. If
you are loved only for those things, it's an illusion of what
real love is.

But if you look deeper, you may find the undiscovered self that he
loves, beyond the physical.

Can you reach out to yourself as you would a lover, and connect with
your beloved self?

Remember, this journey is one of change, and it might be that some
day, you decide that you want
something different from your status quo. You will take a fearless step into the unknown.

I'm not sure what you mean by "tough". Maybe you appear stronger
than you believe you are? We never
know the extent of our endurance
until it's tested.

You mention a heavy duty disease;
I too, am on the other side of much
pain, incapacity, and deep depression from losing the self I
had come to know as me.

I'm coming back, although not as
strong as I was, but renewing my
value in myself and my gifts.

I'm pretty earth bound myself, but
know that I'm more than my body.
My spirit lives, and so does yours!

Thank you so much for sharing so
deeply. You honor all of us.