Today a link popped up on my Facebook timeline and I went to give it a read and now I am just quietly sitting at my desk at work not knowing how to feel. It is a mix of emotions I cannot quite place in words as if my vocabulary is failing me, and these words somehow hurt like a slow numbing pain and leaves melancholy in its wake.
You should read it too:
It leaves me feeling hollow and sad and also leaves ripples of realisation because I start to think about my own life; reevaluating my actions and trying to reassess the meaning behind why I did them. For all the glasses, cans and bottles of alcohol I’ve reached for in the past and will probably continue to crave for.
“But knives and booze, yoga and booze, 13 mile runs and booze? What’s next to be liquored up: CPR training? Puppy ballet class? (Not really a thing, but someone should get on it.) Is there nothing so inherently absorbing or high-stakes or pleasurable that we won’t try to alter our natural response to it?
Maybe women are so busy faking it — to be more like a man at work, more like a porn star in bed, more like 30 at 50 — that we don’t trust our natural responses anymore. Maybe all that wine is an Instagram filter for our own lives, so we don’t see how sallow and cracked they’ve become.”
How many times have I thought Damn I need a drink! in hopes of ignoring the root of the problem but instead using getting drunk as a means to forget and escape from it? As if plying ourselves with alcohol takes away from the realities of life where we are mistreated at work, feel that we are deserving of less (be it due to gender or age or experience) or any bad situation, when instead all it does it throw on a filter that makes it seem less bad than it really is. Throwing on a filter that masks the injustices, thinking that ignoring it is better in the long run, thinking that using booze can make us happy, even temporarily so that we can somehow feel better about ourselves?
The magazines telling me strong is the new sexy and smart is the new beautiful, as though strong and smart are just paths to hot. The Facebook memes: muscles are beautiful. No, wait: fat is beautiful. No, wait: thin is beautiful, too, as long as you don’t work for it. No, wait: All women are beautiful! As though we are toddlers who must be given exactly equal shares of princess dust, or we’ll lose our shit.
And then I start to get angry at women, too. Not for being born wrong, or for failing to dismantle a thousand years of patriarchy on my personal timetable. But for being so easily mollified by a bottle. For thinking that the right to get as trashed as a man means anything but the right to be as useless.
And it just makes me think of all the times when I have been told to accept I cannot do something because I am a woman, being told I to accept that something happened because of my gender. In Japan, I was told I have to accept that men will treat me a certain way because of how I act. That I cannot judge them for how they behave, cannot criticize them because it is a product, a consequence, of who I am.
I was told off for calling an ex-boyfriend too clingy by an older Japanese man. “He is just being protective of you.”, and later he went on to say that “You are a strong woman so only weaker men will like you.” and I felt so offended but I could say nothing – he was a student at where I was working, the customer is always right, so all I could do was try and change the topic of conversation. (Supposedly, it is no different here in Singapore. Me being fat, opinionated and non-submissive throws me down into the dredges of the dating pool’s unwanted.)
Another time – I was told off for my appearance by an elderly Japanese man. It was again, at work, at an international party type thing with free flow booze and light snacks. I had dyed hair then and was wearing coloured contacts and had been feeling happy and pretty until he came over and decided to stomp all over and criticize my appearance. He sneered at my coloured hair tips, calling them terrible. “Your hair looks so dry and unhealthy.” before giving his look of approval at the ‘typically Asian looking’ staff next to me, praising her non-dyed black hair, her brown eyes, and asked why I was hiding my real eye colour, scoffing before he proclaimed that “Natural is best.”
Again, there was nothing I could say. So I took another swig of the can of chu-hai to try and remind myself that what he said didn’t matter. Like how I always had a can open, or a bottle ready for that day when I felt upset and needed something to nullify the pain.
I wish I could present my thoughts to this article in a better way, but I can’t because it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. There is so much more to mull over.
I will need to let the words sink in, read them another few times, and then, perhaps, I will have something better articulated that I can write about it.
So till next time,