What will the neighbors say?
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been hard at work deciphering the scribblings of our mysterious M.A., and I’m happy to report I have a few entries to present today.
I’m giving you the first two I found, therefore I’m calling them the First Two Entries. (Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)
Please keep in mind nothing was dated, so let’s not get too concerned whether they were actually M.A.’s first writings, hmm?
In the same way, don’t worry about whether I’m making all this up or not. There’s much to be said for losing yourself in story.
There are far worse places you could find yourself.
In a previous post, I lamented the lack of philosophical writings for women. A collection of ideas where the chief goal was to empower, embolden, and other em-words like that there.
But was it true? Did we really lack such writings, or was I falling into a “poor me” mentality, as satisfying as it is lazy? I had to find out.
My trip to the library produced mixed results. The reading materials were plentiful and the cold brew coffee sold in their cafe (only $3.95) was lovely. The problem, as I saw it, was that the writings focused too much on what was wrong with women. They came from a premise that we were broken. Battered down and weakened.
After two hours of disheartening research, I bought another cold brew and headed home.
That was when my trip took an interesting turn. Continue reading “Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman”
Last week in an article in the New York Times, columnist Laura Collins Hughes referred to a recent performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
No, not that performance. The one Hughes spoke of was at an all-girls high school. Not only were all the roles played by girls, the word “man” was changed to “girl” throughout the script.
“Thou art the ruins of the noblest girl that ever lived in the tide of times,” Mark Antony said over the dead body of Caesar, and I thought: When do we ever describe girls as noble? When, in the stories we tell, do we ever take them that seriously?
–from “When Women Won’t Accept Theatrical Manspreading”
by Laura Collins-Hughes, the New York Times, July 17, 2017
To which I say, “Right?!”
It started me thinking – or rather, it returned me to thinking, as it’s not my first time – how powerful language can be, especially the words we choose to describe ourselves.
I’ve been doing some reading into Stoicism (because I’m weird like that), partly because it reminds me of my dad. He was a calm, quiet Norwegian. A perfect fit for Stoicism.
But also… well, have you ever read something and thought to yourself, “Yes! This, right here! This is meeee!” (Squealed in a most stoic fashion, I assure you.)
You find out you’re not a weirdo after all. Someone — okay, someone in ancient times, but still, it’s someone — thinks the way you do. Only smarter and with a better vocabulary.
Stoicism is like that for me. But there’s one little problem: it’s a wee bit masculine. Oh hell, it’s all the way masculine. I mean, they were all men.
(Okay, fine. I realize there were some female Stoics, but we know very little about them, and they don’t appear to have written anything. Not so much as a grocery list.)
So after hearing of the plucky girls doing Shakespeare, I started changing the language of what I was reading.
The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.
The bravest sight in the world is to see a great woman struggling against adversity. ― Seneca, feminized
Granted, it’s a small change. Just one word. But that one word not only makes it more relevant to me, it’s done something more.
It got me to thinking: Maybe there are other women, maybe lots of women, who would like these Stoic thoughts too.
To tell the truth, I never felt I had much in common with other women. It wasn’t a gender issue, but more a mental one. I wasn’t as interested in the things they were (or what I thought they were – shopping, makeup, diets, fashion), which may explain why I always had more male friends than female.
But what if that was based on misplaced thinking?
Women are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them. — Epictetus, feminized
Consider the basic Stoic principles of humility, self-control, equality, justice — are those strictly masculine ideals? Of course not. Do all women practice them? No, but then neither do all men. That’s why we call them ideals. (Also, did you notice how christian they sound? Again, ideally speaking.)
Okay, so what’s the big deal, you say. Just read “man” as humankind. If these ideas aren’t exclusively male, then neither should they be exclusively female.
To which I say, Geez fella, lighten up! After several centuries of language going your way, you can’t give us a few quotes of our own?
Because just as it is for an all-girl Julius Caesar, changing the pronouns makes the quotes more meaningful to the average female.
She who lives in harmony with herself lives in harmony with the universe.
— Marcus Aurelius, feminized
A nice concept, isn’t it? A woman living in harmony with herself?
Imagine if young women were hearing messages like that, rather than “Jeans that Make Your Butt Look Great!” (from Seventeen)
Of course, I realize we’re not in the habit of quoting philosophy to our kids, either to our daughters or our sons. That’s not my point.
(Though if you do quote philosophy to your kids, I want you to know how much I love you.)
My point is… well, I’m not sure what my point is. Let’s say it’s my wish. I wish we had a Stoic equivalent for women. Because Stoicism is far more than tweetable quotes, it’s a way of life.
I wish there had been a female Marcus Aurelius who wrote down all her thoughts on how to live a good and honorable life. Maybe Marcus had a second cousin, twice removed.
Let’s call her Marcia. Marcia Aurelius.
But what’s the use of wishing? (Wishing is not a Stoic-approved practice.) Maybe we don’t have ancient philosophies to bolster us up. That doesn’t mean we can’t make use of them, or alter them if need be.
Or — hey, how ’bout this? — what if we wrote our own Meditations?
One day, someone will find a wise woman’s diary — your diary — filled with ideas, admonitions, private reflections; Empowering words on how to be a good, noble woman.
I really wish we had something like that. Tell ya what – I’ll work on mine if you work on yours.
Waste no more time arguing about what a good woman should be. Be one. — Marcus Aurelius, feminized
I’ve been on a mission to clean out my closet and change up the old wardrobe. My goal is to eliminate morning angst.
I want to be able to pop into the closet, grab a shirt, pants & blazer — and by that I mean any shirt, pants & blazer – and boom, I’m out of there. Classy, chic, and completely office appropriate.
My mission is nearly complete.
But in pursuit of my dream, I have stumbled upon a most alarming situation. Something I believe will undermine women’s role in society if we don’t take action immediately.
What it is, you ask, that has me in such a dither?
It happened while I was doing the whole Google thing. My search terms being ‘classy’, ‘chic’, and ‘office appropriate’. I couldn’t help noticing that some women – and by some women, I mean nearly every woman wearing a button up shirt – seemed to have extraordinary difficulty buttoning up.
These are just a few of the poor dears I came across:
What bothers me the most (and if you’re a woman, it should concern you as well), is that no one pointed it out to them!
I mean, come on! This woman missed TWO buttons!
If a man has his fly undone, doesn’t someone take him aside? Whisper in his ear? Give him a quick heads up?
Of course they do!
But these poor women had no one. NO ONE!
And just look at this next woman! She missed a good three or four buttons, and even forgot a bra!
Aw hell, she’s even in her pajamas!
Couldn’t anyone tap her on the shoulder and whisper, “Uh, dear, you might want to freshen up a bit before you walk into that meeting.”
And lest you think it stops here, oh no my friends. It gets worse. It gets much worse.
There are women who didn’t just forget buttons, they forgot to wear shirts!!!
I am deeply concerned, my friends. Deeply concerned!
Were a man to walk into a meeting dressed as thus, he would likely get laughed out of the boardroom. Or else have dollar bills stuffed in his pants.
Honestly, how can we hope to be taken seriously in the workplace if we can’t even manage a button or two? From whence shall our help come?
Therefore, I call upon my fellow sisters to make a pledge to one another: If we see each other unbuttoned, unzipped or unsnapped, where we definitely need to be buttoned, zipped, and/or snapped, we will discretely let each other know.
And please, oh please, I beg of you: should I ever forget to wear a shirt, please let me know!!!
A new take on an old story.
If Samson was smart, he’d get a new number.
Three missed calls
Will Samson find a match on OkCupid?
Will Samson find love?
Let’s find out!
Samson is strong. Samson is very strong.
But Samson is lonely.
Samson opens an account on OkCupid.
This is what Samson’s profile says:
Hi! I'm Samson and I am a spiritual warrior and judge. I never drink, shave or cut my hair. Also, I can kill a lion with my bare hands. Seeking: A woman who understands me. Religious preference: Parents are hoping for a nice Jewish girl, but I'm open.
Do you keep an idea journal?
I have two. One is a pretty little journal someone gave me several years ago. Unfortunately, I misplace it constantly. So I’ve taken to using the notes section in my daily planner.
(Yes, I use an old-fashioned printed planner. Don’t judge.)
My problem with idea journals is that I rarely remember what I had in mind when I first wrote the ideas down. Which is what happened when I reviewed my entries recently, hoping for inspiration.
Instead, I’m offering my ideas to you. Maybe you can work them into something.
You’re welcome. Continue reading “My Idea Journal: the Foolish and Forgotten”