FEARLESS WOMAN by Paulyne Pogorelske

The Fearless Girl limited edition replica sculpture, a symbol of gender equality, created by artist Kristen Visbal now emboldening Federation Square, is an inspiring creation for the here and now as much as for the future. The original sculpture was installed at the Bowling Green park in New York City’s financial district in March 2017 and stands facing the Charging Bull as a pillar for women facing gender discrimination and prejudice.

The Herald Sun news article on February 26, 2019 applauded the replica as representing “Have no fear girl, the future is bright”, but why should girls wait for more equal opportunities and choices to be accepted and acknowledged? For more than a century, many females have vociferously agitated for changes in behaviours, attitudes and the law to enhance sensibilities for their sense of self and sensitivity. While some embrace female equality at home, at work and at play, traditional, albeit oppressive stereotypes still pervade the current social landscape, with apparent acceptance of these as apposite and appropriate; approved as norms and intrinsic to a good life.

But what, I posit, happens if the Fearless Girl “grows up” to be a Fearless Woman? It is not just being female that’s pertinent, but the sort of female she is, fearless the definitive factor. A strong, sexy and self-empowered female who stands up for herself assertively and adamantly can unintentionally instil fear in others. Moreover, if she rejects being controlled, put down intellectually, abused or disrespected, there can be unforseen consequences, paying a price for challenging the system, by women as much as men. Daring to walk away from this conspiracy of control, she may find herself alone and without support, understanding herself as a threat to the status quo and enshrined cultural beliefs.

Consequentially, her aloneness can then internalise a fear of self, aware, albeit unconsciously, that her behaviour and words frighten and disturb others, engendering feelings of conflict and confusion. How does she react? Does she withdraw from social contact with controlling and abusive people? If this occurs in the workplace, does she resign to become a welfare recipient or simply endure the humiliation? If it is in the home, can she end her partnership with impunity and afford to go it alone? Does she have the strength, confidence and self-belief to survive? If it is in play, will she ever find friends who don’t criticise or condemn her out of jealousy or spite?

Another choice is that she change her own manifesto and remain silent about these control ‘freaks’ who proscribe her self-determination, moderating her manner of social interaction by succumbing to more acceptable sociability as a passive and docile subordinate?

As a young woman she might not comprehend these consequences, living true to herself obliviously content without recognising her own naivety, imperceptibly adopting a less confronting manner for approval. But being more compliant and compromising only engenders anger, realising as she ages that being alone could be inevitable to maintain her sense of self and eschew the prescriptions of so-called normalcy.

Pursuing an individual path on her own as others choose to cohabit, have children and create the “happy ever after” fairytale in their suburban sanctuaries, she wants, even more importantly, needs a very different life, with stimulating work and decent pay that enables her to be economically independent with the possibility of adopting some unwanted child. Having a man as a partner isn’t paramount in her perspective as she cares for herself as her own breadwinner. Perhaps she just needs a man for friendly, respectful and consensual sex, but for some threatened men, that is not easy. Thankfully, sex toys can provide for her.

What she does really need are genuine friends, but when one woman is Fearless, she can unwittingly threaten the social pecking order among women as they bemoan their bastard boyfriends, begrudge their own children and bitch about women like her. Finding another Fearless woman to share good times with is not easy either. And platonic male friends, particularly when she’s older, can be difficult to discern as their insecure wives and girlfriends also feel threatened.

This portrayal of the Fearless Woman may seem pessimistic, but it’s been my experience over more than five decades of my life. Resolute about staying Fearless nonetheless while exploring different modes of behaviour at different times, in different contexts and for different reasons, I resolved my personal fears and the confusion that segued. With research revealing that amicable relationships can be fraught with toxic encounters permeating the social milieu, particularly online, clearly finding mutual compatibility with others can seem elusive, if not almost impossible.

The good news on this International Women’s Day is however, that as an older woman of 69 years, being Fearless has reaped rewards as I am not so alone, now enjoying a great male friendship with benefits, with a couple of interesting female cohorts and supporting myself with a pension. I write, with occasional publication in the mainstream media and my own online magazine “The Femmosexual”, living alone very happily and in good health, celebrating today as a Fearless woman who has lived for myself, through myself and of myself, without regret.