Friday, 16 December 2016

Alchemy of Woman

Some of the discussion developing in the comments to a previous post is veering into dangerous territory, the academic take on feminism and equality - oy.

Oy, oy, oy.

I never quite know how I'll respond when someone starts quoting the 'thinkers' about the 'lot' we women face; probably I should chuckle but mostly I get rankled. I get rankled because our lot is not just one, but many, and I find it offensive that 'we', and 'our experience' are discussed in academia as though we are creatures that can be understood by study from afar.

Just amongst the readers of this blog, no two women have the same experiences, needs, passions and desires, very few of which can be reduced to matters of 'equality'. As Navillus, in that comment thread, so aptly puts it: "I am not a feminist but am myself."

Multiply that by the billions and the generalisations made by the 'thinkers' get even sillier.

Not to mention dry as dust.

It happens that we have a collection of very old Reader's Digest magazines that we pull out of storage and read once in a while. Paul found this sweet, refreshing little piece in the February, 1936 issue.

I hope it serves to wash the dust from our throats.

                                                 Alchemy of Woman

"In the original Sanskrit, the creation of woman by Twasktrie, the Vulcan of Hindu mythology, is described thus: "He took the lightness of the leaf and the glance of the fawn, the gaiety of the sun's rays and the tears of the mist; the inconstancy of the wind and the timidity of the hare, the vanity of the peacock and the softness of the down on the throat of the swallow. He added the harshness of the diamond, the sweet flavour of honey, the cruelty of the tiger, the warmth of fire and the chill of snow. He added the chatter of the jay and the cooing of the turtle dove. He melted all this and formed a woman. Then he made a present of her to man."
                                                             - Neal O'Hara in Boston Traveler


  1. "...the academic take." Good word choice. I'd better go back a post and read the later comments.

  2. In one sense there is no such thing as Western manhood or Western femininity. Western society excludes what they ought to be and chokes it all down with something imaginary and uniformly unpleasant. While you might find bits and pieces of something better in the mixture available, it's the very process of striving to define things that causes so much trouble. You can't generate an image of "normal" that way. All you end up with is a bunch of conflicting norms with each confining and choking out genuine selfhood in a different way. So long as you remain within Western thinking, you'll never find yourself, never have a clue what you ought to be. I get really tired of the discussions that never quite escape the dry and dusty failures of the past, as if some new combination of worn rejects will provide the answer. I appreciate the quote from outside the Western world because it shows the folly of Western debates on femininity.

    1. I couldn't agree more, Ed, especially with "it's the very process of striving to define things that causes so much trouble."

      For those interested, Ed expands on his comment in a post here:

  3. 'Oy' is a commonly used word in my mother tongue. It is used mindlessly by all without knowing how it entered into the language. Mostly used to emphasize an emotion or feeling.
    It surprised me to hear 'oy' is used in English as well. Very curious of the origin of the word now.
    Oy oy oy Christine. Why am I telling you this now?
    I like the subscription option on your blog.

    1. Ha!

      I don't know the origins either Zeynep. I think of it as a Yiddish (oy vey!), (not that I'm Jewish) Like you say, used just to emphasize an emotion, usually while rolling one's eyes toward Heaven, right?.

      Good, I was hoping someone would like the new gadget.

  4. Ed's last sentence from Junkyard Mechanics "God’s ideal for manhood and femininity cannot be confined to a collection of observable traits." Couldn't be truer! But yet it seems that we always have to pigeonhole certain ideals. Especially the media, oy!