This is in response to Matt Forney’s blog entry here. Read that first if you want to understand context. If you don’t get dangerously high blood pressure from reading Forney’s entry, please read my response below:
I cannot tell is Forney’s entry was meant to be satirical or serious. I know he enjoys trolling, but even if this entry was satirical, some of the remarks he made felt sincere. Through the screen. I can’t help but feel like Forney probably does have some deep-seated, heartfelt misogyny. (There’s always a kernel of truth to be found in satire.)
I’m just a humble blogger in my corner of the universe, and I know responding to Matt Forney is like playing Russian roulette, but I want to say something about what he wrote. Forney’s entry reminded me of something I thought about last night.
First, a little background on my life: when I was little, I liked to play dress up. And yes, I would pretend I was a princess who was waiting to be rescued. However, I also liked to dig holes in my backyard. I excelled academically, I enjoyed singing and drawing, and while my female peers were starting to wear clothes that mimicked what Britney Spears was wearing back in 2002, I was wearing ugly hand-me-downs from my older sister. I only owned one shirt that said the word “princess” on it. I wasn’t really allowed to engage in the pop culture phenomena of those days, because my parents wanted me to just enjoy being a kid. My sister and I didn’t read magazines, we didn’t own a Christina Aguilera CD, and we didn’t watch PG-13 movies until my sister was 16. We were sheltered.
My dad left when I was 12, and yes, that did shatter my security. I would have bad dreams about my house being robbed. I missed my dad’s hugs and his reassuring words when I felt scared. Even with my mom manning the helm of the ship, our lives felt rudderless.
When my dad wanted to reconnect with me and my sister, our relationship was drastically different. My dad had become a harsh, self-centered, and volatile man. He was mentally ill, and from the time I was 12 to the time I was 15, my dad was slowly experiencing his second breakdown. Even though today we have reconciled, I never recovered the relationship I had with him as a child–and that was a tough reality for me to accept.
Growing up, I never did fit in at school–I was one of those “ugly ducklings” that Forney described in his blog entry. My middle school years were difficult. While I was still playing dress up and dancing to Roy Orbison in my bedroom, my peers were starting to date and grind on each other at school dances. I was in my own little world, and I couldn’t adapt well to the shifting culture around me.
I went to a Catholic all-girl high school, and yes, there were all kinds of personalities there. However, one thing remained the same–we were taught to be women of compassion, dignity, honor, and respect. We weren’t lifted up too high, but we weren’t subdued, either. The administration had struck just the right balance of empowerment and discipline. (Except for the rule that forbid us to wear scarves around our necks, because one student got hers caught on a railing and almost choked to death.) We were encouraged to pursue whatever talents we had–whether it was in the arts or in the sciences. We had a Chemistry Club and a woodwind orchestra. After I graduated, the school eventually renovated and revamped their science labs, and now they have a center for video editing as well. There was (and still is) no sense of entitlement at that school because we had to work hard at everything we did.
Today, I am a recent college grad (May 2013) who is still seeking a job.
Which now leads me into my response to Forney’s blog entry.
1. Forney said in his blog entry that girls have done nothing to deserve self-esteem. I must contend that self-esteem should not be earned, but rather, it should be inherent. Every human being should have a good sense of self-esteem, because having good self-esteem can motivate you to do the things that merit the admiration of others. I also must say that admiration and respect are two different things. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, whether they’re a Nobel prize winner or a total couch potato. You have to give respect to get respect, and frankly, Forney’s blog entry was incredibly disrespectful. However, I respect him as a human being, and if he were dying in the middle of 42nd street, I would call an ambulance for him. Not because he’s a gifted writer, not because he’s admired by others for his “ballsiness,” but because he is a fellow human.
Forney pointed out that women can only be taken seriously if they are in one of the STEM fields–STEM meaning science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I graduated from a college that is most well-known for its engineering program, and there were some girls who majored in engineering and accounting. I majored in communication. Some people take to math like a swimmer takes to water–I don’t. I’m fascinated by science, but not to the point where I want to pursue a career in it. I’m a writer. I am a lover of words. Is it my fault? Am I being a “conformist,” as Forney said? Or does the issue lie in the fact that the careers in media-related fields are associated with women, while the careers in science-related fields are associated with men?
Are we wired differently? Or is it our environment that determines these things?
Also, I know Forney said college degrees are super-easy to obtain these days, but that wasn’t the case for me. I had to work hard to get my degree. So don’t debase my BA.
2. Forney says “insecurity is integral to femininity.” If this is the case, then why are many men easily manipulated by women? Look at Samson and Delilah. David and Bathsheba. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. I’m not saying our sexuality (or even our ability to perform insecurity) is our power, but I am saying that men have a weakness, too.
It’s women. (Or money…or power…blah blah blah.)
It’s been said that the man is the head and the woman is the neck–and the neck can turn the head any way she wants to. If a mother is calm, authoritative, and nurturing, she will have a peaceful house. If a mother is a b***h on wheels, she will have disorder. Note that the tone of the house is not dependent on the father–it’s dependent on the mother. Throughout history we see many examples of women who influenced people (for better or worse) and they set the tone for their environments–and if they were in a position of leadership, their domains. Queen Victoria. Joan of Arc. Marie Antoinette. Michelle Obama. Christine Quinn. Sarah Palin. Stephenie Meyer.
Did/do all these women have insecurities? Certainly. But so do men. That’s what Forney omitted from his entry–men are also insecure. Sure, they may look confident, some may even have an ego the size of Russia, but all men have at least one insecurity.
Perhaps women may have more insecurities than men, but I’d blame our environment for that. You don’t have to be insecure to be feminine. Being insecure is part of being human.
3. Forney’s third and final point was that women don’t want to have high self-esteem. This is where I really hoped Forney wasn’t being serious with this entry–maybe he really is being sarcastic and my sarcasm radar is off today.
Which means I might have wasted my time here.
I’ll admit, though, that there were times when I’ve fished for compliments. I’m not the first woman to do that, and I’m certainly not the last. I do genuinely want to have high self-esteem, though. Not cocky or vain confidence–self-esteem. There’s a difference.
Women do want affirmation from men, and vice versa. Also, men do want to feel needed, and they do want to be respected. Women want to be valued and cherished, not used and possessed. That’s been established in multiple studies, surveys, books, movies, etc.
Instead of putting each other down, though, or trying to gender neutralize everything, why don’t we celebrate our differences? There’s a novel thought.
(And Forney, you speak about what arouses you as if the world actually cares. That means you’re a true blogger. )
Tying this together with what I was thinking about last night–I was up worrying about something that was upsetting me. And I thought about how I can’t talk to my dad about it and receive some reassurance from him, and I’m currently single so I don’t have a boyfriend to text to help me feel safe and calm, either.
But I can call on my Heavenly Father, in whom my identity and self-worth lies, and I can tell Him that I’m scared. And He can comfort me with His Holy Spirit. He reminds me of who I really am–I don’t need to stay stuck in low self-worth because of how people have treated me, or because of my lack of accomplishments. I am a child of the Risen King.
I am a princess.
I hardly wrote an extensive response to what Forney wrote, but if I did that, I would be sitting here all day writing a thesis. In about a few hours, I’m going to completely forget what Forney wrote as I continue to live my life (and yes, I will be in the kitchen to wash dishes and make a sandwich for myself). As for Forney, whether he was serious or not, I hope he realizes that he will be held accountable for every idle word, as is the case for all of us.
PS I know this blog entry is kind of uneven, so there’s no need to point that out in the comments.
PPS It always goes back to God for me. Curveball for readers, I know, but hey, it’s my blog. If Forney can write whatever he wants, then so can I.