6 Lies Society Has Been Selling You

Sometimes I feel like society is trying to ram so many ideas down our throats, cram them into our heads, so we can’t even tell what we really think or feel divorced from what we are told we should think and feel.  There are a couple of ideas I think can be really problematic, and this is only a sampling of them, but here are 6 lies that society has been selling you-~-and which you shouldn’t be buying.

1. You will feel better if you’re skinnier.

This is such a lie.  You will feel better if you are healthy, and healthy looks different for everyone.  The media doesn’t get to decide what’s healthy.  Men don’t get to decide what’s healthy.  Feminism doesn’t get to decide what’s healthy.  Doctors get to advise on what’s healthy, and that’s about it.  “Fat” people who exercise are healthier and will live longer than “skinny” people who don’t.  And if you let your happiness revolve around your jeans size, all you’ll end up is self-conscious-~-and that’s not happiness.

2. You should be having better sex (but, you know, monogamously, because women shouldn’t be promiscuous, say our norms)

So better sex probably won’t hurt you, but again, your happiness probably shouldn’t revolve around sex.  On top of that, the sexual expectations piled on both men AND women are at best unhelpful and at worst harmful to the development not just of self-confidence but of relationships.  If you want better sex, focus first on being comfortable with yourself and with communicating about sex, and don’t worry about the rest.  Have the kind of sex that you like, with the person or people you want to have sex with, because this is one of those things that no one can define as “good” for you.

3. You should be in a relationship.

Who decided this?  I’m serious.  Who decided that monogamous relationships were the gold standard of human interaction?  I touched on this is a long-lost post about Valentine’s Day, but I have more to say here.  First, not everyone is emotionally ready for a relationship.  Romantic relationships take a significant amount of emotional commitment, time, and energy.  Not everyone actually has that to give.  Not everyone is mature enough for that.  Not everyone is ready to make decisions factoring in another person because that’s just not where they are in their lives.  And that’s fine.  Some people just don’t WANT that, and that’s fine too.  No one should have to feel like a failure because they don’t want or don’t have a significant other in their lives.  You are in fact a complete person all on your own.

4. You should be over him/her.

Again, who decided this?  Who decided there was a time limit on how long you have to get over someone?  Breakups are difficult, and every breakup is different.  They effect people in various ways, and some may be easy to get through, and some may be much, much harder.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the amount of time you get is dictated by the length of the relationship or the cause of the split-~-you get however much time you need to feel healed again.  And that’s totally fine.  Don’t ever let anyone make you feel small or pathetic because you’re dealing with something.

5. You should be happier.

Happiness is great and all, but no one should be shaming you if you’re not.  Personally, I don’t think anyone who holds it against you that you’re dealing with a tough time is a real friend, but that’s just me.  Conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD are very real, and they impact tens of thousands of people across the United States every year.  And they’re linked to some of the other things I have already talked about-~-breakups, loneliness, low self-esteem, etc.   And those are real problems that need to be addressed, but no one should make you feel bad about the fact that you don’t have it all under control.  It is okay not to be okay all the time.  It’s okay to let yourself go, and it’s okay to give yourself time and space to heal after bad things happen.  It’s okay to need time to deal with life in general without there being a specific trigger.

6. A good feminist is ambitious, self-confident, sex-positive, with good body image who doesn’t care about that “shallow” crap.

This is maybe the stupidest lie of all.  It’s right up there with “feminists hate men” and other misconceptions about feminism.  A good feminist cares about people.  A good feminist wants every woman to have a fair shot.  A good feminist wants to see a more just world.  And that’s about the extent of the generalizations.  Yes, feminism as a movement wants to get rid of hierarchical structures and norms that harm both men and women and a good feminist probably believes those structures are bad, but that doesn’t mean that a good feminist has to have overcome every internal and external obstacle that she has encountered.  It is okay to still have body image issues-~-I know I do.  It is okay to want to stay home.  It is okay to have had bad experiences with or not really enjoy sex or particular sex acts.  It is okay to care what you look like.  It is okay to be feminine, or to reject conventions of femininity.  It’s okay to have moments of self-doubt or to get scared sometimes.  Because feminists are human-~-we’re not freaking robots (can you imagine if we had Patriarchy-destroying robots?  How cool would that be?)  And it’s okay to just be human, too.

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~ by Randi Saunders on September 26, 2013.

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