“There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Well thanks Pablo, what an obnoxious thing to say. All women are quite wonderful by default, and all women are goddesses at heart. Except for the nasty ones, the selfish ones, the superficial ones (wait, those go with selfish and nasty), the didactic ones, the stupid ones and the vulgar ones. Hmm…did I manage to cover all the types AND specific individuals I dislike and feel a childish need to publicly insult in secret? Yeah, I think that covers it.
Ok, so I picked that quote because it offends me. Because I happen to be a strong and intelligent woman, and find myself in the company of so many amazing women I admire, I’ve noticed that by being genuine, doing our best, giving lots of love, taking care of those around us, refusing to boast about our achievements and walk around like we own the world, we often end up being perceived rather like doormats by the opposite sex. In other words, because we are the type of women who give and accommodate (as opposed to take, make selfish demands and claim every credit imaginable), it is assumed we are somehow weak, insecure, needy, lacking in ambition and glamour. Otherwise why would we not act like entitled biatches and thereby manifest our “inner goddesses”?
Meanwhile, there are those women out there…and you know the types. Those are the women who get the diamonds, the cars, sponsorship for hobbies, nannies and maids to help in between spa & salon appointments. Those are the women who hold ‘real’ jobs (as opposed to ‘fake’ ones like home businesses or just taking care of a family), and ‘don’t know’ how to light up the stove, or clean a floor…and have perpetual migranes and needs for space, and socializing, and special diets, and whatever else you can think of.
And sadly, those seem to also be the women men shop for, cook for, and praise for the smallest achievement…the women for whom doors are always opened, chairs always held, and whose slightest thoughtful gesture invites endless wonder and admiration. Those are Pablo’s goddesses…as opposed to the rest of us, the doormats, who open our own doors, and carry our own grocery bags, and do everyone’s laundry.
(Oy, I am rather irritated…)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spend way too much time in my life feeling terribly guilty because I’m not living in a hut, milking 20 cows before dawn, and plowing 50 acres by lunchtime while also raising 10 children and getting my 3rd PhD in rocket science. And for not being a diva through and through at the same time!
And what’s more, instead of seeking to make my life easier or god forbid pamper myself, I’ve actually believed I should be making my life harder so as to compensate for the flexibility I have. As if I am on a perpetual vacation and none of the things I ever did (or do) on a daily basis involve any real work at all. I am reminded of Maria Portokalos when she lashes out at Gus...”What you mean? I run the restaurant, I cook, I clean, I wash for you *and* I raise three kids *and* I teach Sunday school, you know? It’s lucky for me I have you to tie my shoes! “.
But seriously, how the heck do some women get so much credit for basically being useless and so damn needy, meanwhile those of us who do and give so much end up being perceived as weak, attention starved, cranky, overly emotional friggin housefraus!?
I’m thinking at least some of you out there can identify. How many times have you felt judged and found lacking because you didn’t focus enough on yourself…because you did as much as you could to be accommodating…because you stepped down from a professional role to raise a family, or else took on both and were criticized for not being motherly enough…because you admitted long ago to knowing how to scrub a floor and boil an egg, and you never sat there pretending you’re oh-so-overwhelmed by motherhood to lift a finger, or else innocently excused yourself from doing soooo much more if only it didn’t involve risking your breaking a nail in the process?
How many times have you felt small and dumb because instead of a long resume and paycheck stubs, all you had to show the world for a while was a pile of diapers, a fridge that anyone could have filled, a child anyone could have bathed, fed and held through every night of fever since forever…or meals nobody remembers, ironed clothes now in the laundry basket, discarded vacuum bags, empty bottles of all-purpose cleaner?
How many times when the conversation turned to you, was the subject changed to the weekly specials at Costco, best ways to make applesauce for the baby, and best techniques for getting those socks really white?
And as a special treat…how many times have you questioned your competency as a mother and housekeeper (the only things you had at the time to describe what you do) because you didn’t or couldn’t breastfeed for 20 years as the experts recommend (and the La Leche league freak next door did!), because your kids don’t have 101 activities planned every week, because you can’t make cobbler and you forget to clean under the refrigerator, and have more personality than a silicone stuffed puppet or a doorknob with more ‘real work’ experience than you?
Damn, I got all that out…so many birds just fell off the fence. I feel refreshed.
Now back to the perfect woman thing. I’m thinking next time I feel less than perfect, or not quite goddess-like, I’m going to cheerfully embrace the doormat role for a while. After all, doormats just sit there and do nothing. Or else I might try playing the diva…although I don’t think I can stomach it, nor get away with pretending I don’t know how to wash a glass or plug in the vacuum cleaner when dozens of witnesses can be called in to vouch for my competency in such matters (as well as my dislike for people ‘serving’ me).
Ok, so Pablo, and any members of the male species (yes, species) who indulge that kind of mentality when it comes to judging women need to shut up, and just go away. Like so many of you, I refuse to be fake, to stop giving, loving, and yes, struggling. It comes with the territory. I don’t work or take care of those around me because I’m dumb or insecure or clueless about spas, but because I have a mind and a soul I respect, a healthy sense of self, a genuine desire to contribute, and high standards. Because I am real and a lady and a goddess, regardless of whether I’m on my knees scrubbing a floor or in heels walking into a corporate meeting.
Rant over, heading to Starbucks for a treat! 🙂