Once upon a time, I tried to be perfect, or what I believed to be perfect. The Perfect Woman; always looking a million dollars, always strong, always energetic, always a successful careerist, always happy, always sexy, always loving, always in control; who never had moments of doubt, moments of insecurity, moments of vulnerability, moments of weakness, moments of exhaustion, moments of confusion, moments of depression, moments of sadness and tears, moments of frustration, moments of anger. I was going to be The SuperWoman Incarnate as the 70s Women’s Movement ordained as our REAL fate; what we deserved, what we needed, what was, indeed, our Right!
I believed it all without ever realising back then that this treatise on women made one tragic mistake; one tragic omission – it denied our humanity! It set us up as Stepford Wives despite many of us so-called feminists deriding marriage and motherhood and opting instead for single blessedness. Did we need a man at all? And if we did, what type of man? Did we indeed, need any kind of partner in a world where women would be The FIRST Sex and no longer forced to succumb to the power and control of another! We were our OWN person, our OWN woman, to live for ourselves, make our own decisions, powerful, independent – economically, socially, politically, psychologically, so no one could ever control our destiny again. We were in control of our minds and our bodies; despite the complexity of our social milieu and all the issues it confronted us with; the conventional conservatism and conformity of millions of women who lived their lives trying to attain Perfection because that’s what our female traditional heritage had ordained for us centuries ago. The Women’s Movement, in those halcyon days of the early 70s, challenged all these preconceptions but erroneously, and with tragic irony, just replaced this norm of perfection with another norm of perfection but called it by a different name – The SuperWoman entity, who not only married and mothered, but carved out simultaneously a successful career enjoying all the trappings of material well-being. Yes, The Women could Have It All – even though this rhetoric mostly addressed well educated, middle-class women who cared little for the millions of women trapped in loveless, often violent marriages living in poverty and with scant hope for escape. Where could they go? The perfect dream blackened with imperfection! The Perfect Ideal rendered merely Human!
Failure became the name of the game for so many of these women while their richer, more prosperous sisters (mistakenly as they were called) languished in a deep pit of inadequacy and worthlessness. They certainly weren’t perfect; how could they be when they could barely afford to feed themselves, put a roof over their heads, let alone care properly for their children in circumstances which should have put these SuperWomen to shame. But the reality was they just didn’t care; out of sight, out of mind (or were they frightened of their own inner, albeit unconscious, imperfections?), as they powered along their paths of success leaving a trail of millions of women in their wake who, through no fault of their own, were simply not accorded the opportunities they needed to surpass their impecunious circumstances. Some of these SuperWomen seemed indeed cast in the Stepford mould; hair always immaculately coiffured, nails varnished and polished, make up impeccable, clothes gorgeous, feminine supremacy realised as they also worked brilliantly, seducing their male bosses with their charm, sexiness and one hopes, intelligence. (Though this was not always important in the quest to reach The Top!) The reality was these women would NOT entertain anything less than perfection not only in themselves but in other women, too – perfection was sacrosanct with no room for humanity – for our frailties, faults and fragility as real human beings!
In that era, what appeared on the outside was testimony to our success, our superwoman status, emulating our male brethren in all spheres of life. What was on the inside was secretly concealed in our subconscious; never to be flaunted despite our struggles to keep everything under control. Losing control only reflected our inability to cope, our weakness, our instability, confirming our place as The SECOND sex. And certainly, we shrugged that label off with confident arrogance. We must be perfectly in command; never letting slip our humanness, our innate shortcomings and insecurities. To be seen as SuperWoman dictated our quintessential being. Keeping up the facade was paramount. The epitome of perfection! So many women colluded in this social conspiracy to maintain our super status; one woman’s fall from grace was intolerable as it represented a major step backward in the supremacy we now demanded; these failures, or losers as they were oft condemned, were only fit to be ignored, discarded on the heap of debris left behind in the wake of success of all others. Their humanness only served to instil fear in these others; refusing to confront their own potential vulnerabilities and so-called weaknesses as these women were sadly perceived. SuperWomen accorded them no place in the new hierarchy; no respect and no status, as after all, they were imperfect. They simply didn’t want to know them! Their humanity went unacknowledged; who wanted to listen to the sad musings of a REAL human being when they could indulge their time with perfect women who were more entertaining and interesting instead of the soporific and boring narratives of losers as they complained about their lives.
There was no room for error; no sadness permitted; no grief allowed as these Super Women paraded their strength and confidence in their new realm of power. Perfect in every sense supposedly just like all the men they had previously envied. Now it was their turn for control; for taking charge of life and establishing themselves on the same pedestal as their male counterparts. Being human just didn’t rate on their spreadsheets. They had developed a new agenda; one promising great economic returns and material success; without being constrained by the lamentable cries of their sisters who they turned their backs on. It was a new order, a new regime and a new way of being. As much as I once tried to be one of these women, I kept falling short of the mark and indulged many, long nights in wondering where I had gone so wrong. Why couldn’t I super my way through life as they apparently did, or so it seemed? Until a new dawn rose before my psyche where I slowly, albeit almost imperceptibly, started to comprehend this insane need for perfection. As if we were REALLY Stepford wives fighting an inhuman battle for victory. Because that’s what I saw it as; an opportunity for perfection where our human faults, frailties and fragility were buried underground never to resurface to catch us out! Denial reigned supreme; denial of our core as human beings and I no longer wanted any part of that scenario. I didn’t want to know these SuperWomen who castigated my humanity, who chose wealth and power over others and called it success, who relegated my self-respect into the dustbin of their disdain. Chasing that ideal of perfection lost its allure as I recognised it was an inhuman ideal; an insane ideal that stripped us of our very essence as complex and multi-dimensional human beings. The SuperWoman perspective was itself flawed; and I kept falling short of the mark because deep down, I didn’t want to be that kind of woman, without empathy, compassion or understanding of others. I cherished my emotional passions; for those less privileged, those less fortunate and those trapped in poverty, I didn’t want pretentious accolades or misguided favours; I opted to stay human rather than a Stepford wife; whatever it might have cost me. Being perfect was no longer on my agenda as I started to unravel my own faults, frailties and fragility as a human being.
We all have problems living life to the full; life is itself complex and at times confusing and aiming to block out the confusion and complexity is to deny life itself and our humanity. I didn’t want to be some invincible, hard and insensitive woman, I didn’t want to be a man and I certainly didn’t want to be an automaton oiling my internal machinery for the cost of being human. Others can deride me for turning my back on some of these perfect women; turning my back on feminism as it is celebrated too often because it’s a far cry from the feminism I rallied for in my younger days. It’s a fake; a foray into an inhuman existence that destroys our real emotions and passions as it’s interpreted sadly by so many well-educated and middle class women. I now love being imperfect and those who don’t want to listen to my imperfections can play deaf against me; can denigrate or deny my importance and my uniqueness as an individual human being. It’s their problem, not mine. I choose to be human! A Fabulous Femmosexual in my OWN right!