What follows is an excerpt from today's email for the read-along of A Woman's Worth that I'm hosting this month...
On dulling our pain and self-crucifixion
"Why do people who have the most ardor, the most enchantment, the most power so often feel the need for drugs and alcohol? They do not drink just to dull their pain; they drink to dull their ecstasy. Betty Lynn lived in a world that doesn't know from ecstatic women, or want to know, or even allow them to exist. [...] Betty Lynn crucified herself before anyone else had a chance to. Many of us are a little like her, choosing to implode rather than take on society's punishment." (pg. 14)
"In the case of many people who carry around one thing, whatever it is, that blocks them from total joy, that belief is this: If I am too happy, too successful, too perfect, I will not be loved. There has to be something that lets other people know that I'm really 'one of them,' that I'm miserable too. I'm really not taking away their piece of the pie. I'm really not perfect, so they don't have to hate me." (pg.27)
This hits a little too close to home for me, if you know what I mean. Sabotaging ourselves to appease (what we preemptively think are) other people's expectations. Judging other women, too, for being too (or not enough) x, y, or z.
- What do you judge yourself for doing/being as a woman?
- What standards do you think you're meeting when you squash whatever those natural instincts are to be 'acceptable'?
- In what ways do you think those standards are ... positive/beneficial? ... negative/harmful?
There's a real difference between striving to live up to standards that we set for ourselves and obligating ourselves to live up to standards expected by others. It's the difference between living inside-out versus outside-in. The former is self-expression, the latter is approval-seeking compulsion. So some standards that require our restraint or practice in order to meet them will be 'positive' for us, while others will be 'negative'. It all depends on how living our lives to those standards makes us feel, and it will look unique to each of us.
- What do you judge other women for doing/being?
- If your judgments had nothing to do with those women, what do you think your judgments might say about what you think, feel, and believe about what is 'acceptable' for women to do/be?
- And to what extent are those standards of acceptability ... your own? ... someone else's?
"It is impossible to overestimate the psychic damage done by the delusions, pseudoreligious and other, that God is somehow happier or we are somehow purer is we are suffering just a bit. The truth is not that God is happier or that we are better, but that the institutions that told us so are happier, because suffering keeps us in our place, where we are easier to control." (pg. 28)
It's not too late to join us for the read-along! When you sign up, you'll automagically receive all the emails you've missed, so you'll be all caught up and ready to pick up where we left off along with us next week.
Worried about not being able to find the time to read a whole book during the holiday season? A Woman's Worth clocks in at a total of 141 pages ... and the margins are huuuge. Let there be no misunderstanding that is precisely why I chose to read this one this month. I got holiday plans, too! ;)
We begin with a promise, made to ourselves and to each other, that we will never go back. We will never again fail to realize how hard it is for every woman, as it has been for us, to face the challenges and resistances of a world that treats women as second-class citizens.
[...] Oppression of women is far from over, and often women themselves are the ones who make the world even harder for other women.
A Woman's Worth
Thu, Dec 7 ・ Published in Catalysts
Tagged: book: "A Woman's Worth"
When we ourselves no longer feel guilty, when we have liberated ourselves from the limited thinking of a society deeply afraid of ecstatic women, then we will no longer encounter people who attack us. Or if we do, we will no longer care.