In my ongoing evaluation of my failed marriage, when I take a break from beating myself up I engage in occasional analysis of my estranged husband’s attitudes and behaviors, and his very obvious disappointment in me as a woman, wife and Christian.
This morning I read Jonathan Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room” where a man, Strephon, exposes all of a woman’s filthy secrets: her bodily functions, her sweat, snot, and excrement. She has been posing as a beautiful creature when all the time she has been sweating, pissing and shitting. The shame! The travesty!
I think about the women of the Bible who are put up on pedestals for men to admire and women to aspire to, and others to despise and blame: Mary, the mother of Yeshua (Jesus is a corruption of his real name) who worshipped her son every day of his life provides the world with an archtype of female perfection, while Eve, the mother of all mankind who was perfect until she thought for herself, provides fodder for the finger pointers and blamers (the same people who think women should cover their bodies because men might lust after them).
These women are, or were, godly, lovely, and pure in their undefiled religious presentations, until they’re not. Mary, the Madonna in Catholic tradition, remained a virgin after the birth of her only son who was conceived apart from any filthy sexual act. She was never corrupted by sexual intercourse, except Protestants think she actually married Joseph and gave birth to other children. Eve, of course, brought about the knowledge of good and evil, ruining the perfect life she and Adam had in the Garden of Eden. But before she did that, she was perfect (brainless, but perfect).
These pure, holy women didn’t sweat, piss and shit. They just didn’t, unless they were human. Eve obviously became quite human while Mary, the mother of Yeshua, never did according to some religious traditions. As a matter of fact, she became deified to some degree.
But the rest of us are not biblical characters or virgin mothers. Women are, in reality, human beings. Apparently that was of concern to Jonathan Swift: the humanity of women. I wonder what he thought of his mother.
Some men are born of very human mothers. These mothers can be selfish, emotional, and not perfectly beautiful. They blow their noses, menstruate, have sex with their partners (who are usually the father), throw dirty things in bathroom waste baskets, brush their teeth and spit in the sink. They, on occasion, probably even stink up the bathroom. These poor boys live their entire childhoods in the presence of filthy mothers.
My husband had such a human mother, and he married a human wife. I think this was a big part of our problem.
How in the world did it become necessary that women maintain this clean, pure, and certainly-not-so-human persona?
Humans are creatures of nature. They eat, drink, burp and fart. Their bodies excrete waste, purging what is toxic, attempting to keep inside only what is healthy. The human body is a beautiful, amazing, and some even consider miraculous system of organs, nerves, bones and grey matter. It takes in and it excretes. It must do this. How has this become filthy? Or is it merely female excrement and fluids, menstrual flow and breast milk that is distasteful or disgusting? Do you know how many men are disgusted by the thought of ingesting breast milk? A lot!
Has religion so twisted gender perception that women are either spiritually-superior or morally-inferior beings? Are the roots of misogyny nourished by the misconception that women are on earth primarily for the care, nurture and pleasure of boys and men, and that the only successful women are those who maintain this illusion of purity? What about the concept of feminine perfection?
I could write all day about the beauty and glamour industries that make millions, nay billions, of dollars so that women can be made presentable to men. In our natural form, I guess we are abhorrent, so we must be shaved, plucked, with some parts restrained while others are presented for sexual appraisal and worthiness to breed.
Are these pressures to engage in extreme beauty regimes misogynistic?
Is misogyny rooted in a desire to be mothered by and married to a Madonna figure, a type of female perfection? Is mankind holding a never-ending grudge because of a woman exercising free will with such catastrophic results?
I feel as though I am on the verge of some kind of understanding (and it occurred to me that I was venturing into Freudian territory).
The psychology of the male is a mystery to me, but I feel as though I have been allowed to peep through a tiny crack in the curtain, board, or huge boulder used to guard the power of man.
dirty beautiful truth about women is that we are natural creatures. Maybe we should begin to embrace this truth. Maybe misogyny needs to first be addressed by women by analyzing our own attitudes and rejecting the many feminine stereotypes that are in actuality illusions.
Something to ponder.
P.S. I entered “beauty of natural woman” in a Google search for images and hundreds of photos of perfect women with professionally-applied makeup and perfectly-styled hair popped up (screenshot below). Good grief!