The Art of Pretense

We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do. We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments— which I think can be a good thing— but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters boyfriends? ‘God forbid!’ But of course when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. We police girls, we praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because *laughs* the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves *laughs*… We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs!’ ‘Cover yourself!’ We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up—and this is the worst thing we do to girls—they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an artform.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston

I've always struggled with my femininity due to the simple fact that I have hated the rules which have attempted to regulate how I express myself. I've never really been good with people telling me what to do; it just drives me to do the total opposite.

Why can I only be viewed as a woman, or rather a heterosexual woman, if I only stick to these strict guidelines? 

Hair must be kept long and flowing. Clothes must always accentuate the body but not too much least you been seen to be a woman of loose moral character. Be demure. Make sure your laugh is always enchanting. Keep the twinkle in your eye and a mischievous smile tucked on the corner of your life. You can be good but never better than him. Don't be too smart.. just smart enough. Nuture, submit, and make sure you are always really good at whatever he likes. Maintain this air of je ne sais quoi about your sexuality. And, boy, doesn't your status just rise when you have a man that calls you his own by your side?

It bothers me that, often times, what is often listed as the characteristics of what it means to be a 'woman' is merely a laundry list of what it takes to get/keep a man. Is that all we're here for?



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