And if you feel you must marry, do yourself a favour: have separate bathrooms. It might save your marriage. Not to mention your sanity.
(Expectations, Fashion, Work, First Date, First Kiss, Love, Sex, The Right Guy)
Be strong, be outspoken, be fearless - the best kind of men will love you for it, and the worst kind of men will run away. Which can only mean good news!
Have dreams, ambitions, standards, expectations! Aspire to do something important, or brave, or useful, or even fun with your life that is not always centred around and limited to you finding (or keeping) a husband, being thin and not ageing. Be something more than that! Believe it that you have it in you!
When it comes to men, demand respect, not protection. Choose a partner, not someone to look after you. Because, you are not a kid. And he is not your father / boss / guardian / master.
Unless you are prepping for an operation, unless you are a child, or a porn star (or you are with a guy who wishes he was with a child or a porn star - which prompts the question, why the hell are YOU with him?), you will have some form of bush. And be fucking OK with it! In short: enough with the Brazilians already! Enough with waxing yourself raw so that a guy gets to live his porn-fantasy. (And BTW, realise that THIS is what it's all about: porn "aesthetics"!) If you are a fully grown, sexually mature, self-assured, ADULT woman, don’ t be intimidated into identifying with the sex trade culture. Because it is degrading. And stupid. And possibly, draughty.
Being single is not a misfortune, any more than being married is an accomplishment. Being without options IS however a misfortune, and being able to make conscious decisions about your life IS an accomplishment!
Don’ t be afraid to be alone. Alone is not necessarily lonely. And alone is always, ALWAYS better than being miserable-but-in-a-relationship. Wretchedly unhappy but married. Bored-out-of-your-mind but not single. Not to mention is better than being unloved, used or abused.
Wearing high heels on special occasions is cool. Wearing them ALL the time, is a sign of feeling unloved, and a little bit desperate. Wearing those Lady Gaga-like ones in your everyday life, that make you look like you are walking on stilts, is just ridiculous. Wearing sneaker shoes with hidden high heels? Well, that’ s just sad...
Keep away from anyone who claims to have no vices. They are either telling the truth, and are therefore the most boring people you are likely to ever meet, or they are lying, and their vices are really dark, and weird, and creepy - possibly involving wearing masks of some kind...
Speaking of vices, remember that the best people got them! Though, if you take pills in order to function, you have given up on the right to bitch about women who drink. And if you drink, you have given up on the right to bitch about women who smoke. But if you smoke, you have totally given up on the right to bitch about women who eat! (Also, stop secretly thinking that lung cancer is preferable to fat!!) And BTW, if you are obsessed with exercising, and you feel literally guilty if a couple of days have gone by without doing your sit ups, you are also struggling as much as the rest of us... It's just your obsession is masked as a "healthy lifestyle choice" and it is universally acknowledged as "normal"... (Hint: it's not...)
If your guy cheats on you, stop blaming the other woman just because you can’ t face the fact that he betrayed you. He was not forced into going with her. Also, don’ t allow anyone to blame you for his own cheating!
Stop being defined by how others judge your looks. Stop feeling the need to always be validated by random guys for whom you have no feelings, lust or compatibility. BTW, a guy who compliments you, is not necessarily in love with you. He is probably just a little horny. Stop being addicted to attention, because it makes you vulnerable to anyone who offers it. It tricks you into believing a guy is in love with you, and this in turn, can trick you into believing you are in love with him too. And before you know it, there go fifteen years of your life down the drain...
FASHION: Wear clothes you like, that make you feel like yourself, not clothes that you hope will catch a guy's attention, so that the guy whose attention you will catch (if this is what you want, that is), will be someone with whom you are compatible...
Stop trying so hard! Stop showing all your “goods” like you are putting on a show to random men at all times, what with those high-hills, and the fake nails, and the just-above-the-ass tattoos which along with your thong are permanently on display, and the barely there skirts, or your above-the-knees-boots like the kind favoured by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and which are aptly known as "hooker boots" … Unless you are really, REALLY keen on catching the attention of the special sort of guy who is frequenting strip tease bars and shady motels with girls named “Kitty” or “Glitter”. And by the why, NO! I'm not "shaming" you by saying this. I'm trying to hint on the reason why you always end up with the type of guy who treats you like dirt. But I'm above all, trying to explain that you are not being "sexually emancipated" when you go around with half your boobs hanging out. You are on the contrary, becoming a walking advert for Patriarchy which has always seen women as nothing but bodies: asses, boobs, mouths, vaginas, and wombs! (Possibly in that order...) Say with your clothes - as much as with anything else, that you are more than that! That you are your opinions, and principles, and desires, and intelligence and abilities (and SURE! your sexuality too!) and a million things more. Send the message not to just men, but to the world, that you are more than your body! What can be more empowering?
WORK: See the other women as your sisters, not as your antagonists. Acknowledge and support other women in your workplace, instead of seeing them as a threat. Help them be and do better. You share more with them, than with your male go-workers, whose approval you are seeking at all costs, because you have identified male approval with a feeling of self-worth. Break the age-old vicious circle! Be the best you can be, because you can, not in order to be seen as worthy by a guy! This will in turn make you feel a camaraderie towards other women, instead of antagonism and you will lift each other up where you belong!
LOVE: When it comes to great, intense, life-changing love affairs, know that the first separation doesn’ t take. But know also, that you can never really go back.
Falling in love for a guy with whom you are not compatible, who is different from you in character, lifestyle, taste, life goals, politics, sense of humour, can be quite a turn on at first, but sooner or later you will be faced with the reality that you are living in different universes, and all the little quirks and idiosyncrasies that you used to find adorable and exiting at the beginning of the relationship, will soon be the first things that will get on your nerves…
Also, do keep it at the back of your mind: despite of what you've been told, taught and force-fed, love is not always enough...
FIRST DATE: When you go on a first date with a guy, take notice of the tell-tales: is he rude to waiters? Is he very particular about his food (always a big and grim warning!); is he a sloppy eater? (which might mean nothing, but lets face it, can be something of a deal breaker) Does he talk about himself for the entire time? Is he condescending and is “mansplaining” (trying to explain things to you, assuming you know nothing about anything, even when you specifically tell him that you do?) Does he spend the biggest part of the night looking at your boobs? - No ladies, it is NOT a compliment. It is a merely a sign that he sees you not an actual human being with thoughts and emotions and desires of your own, but merely as a collection of various body parts. Also it has nothing to do with him being in love with you either. He is just horny. And not necessarily for you, but for any female – or possibly blow up doll - who will have him. Unless this is what you are looking for from this encounter, which is OK, and in which case, you go ahead. But if you want something more than a casual sexual encounter, why not forward ahead, and skip the two miserable years it will take you to find the courage to spilt up with him, once you finally see that you are nothing but a sex providing service for him, and run now? Save yourself the misery and the time.
On the other hand, is he actually listening to you while you talk, and has actual, human responses to what you are saying? Is he kind or at least polite to the waiting staff, even if they screw up and doesn’ t look down the waitress’ s blouse for more than one fleeting moment? Is he a good tipper AND doesn’ t make a fuss about it? Is he making conversation, rather than pontificating? And is he interesting as a human being, talking about things other than himself? Ideally, things that YOU find to be interesting? Plus, do all the smells seem to be working? If yes, then he could be a keeper. But even then, hold your horses. Stop picturing yourself already in a wedding gown and as the mother of two babies and a Golden Retriever, just because you have finally found a guy who seems to be half descent – and therefore previously thought to be extinct. You just met him! Give it time.
Also when it comes to the matter of who pays the bill, here’ s the golden rule: if he is the sort of guy who treats you like you are his equal, then share the bill and insist on it. If however, he is the sort of guy who is an immature, misogynistic, man-child who claims to be a “feminist” only when the bill comes, and otherwise is unable to see you as his equal, or worse, thinks he deserves to have women buying him dinner because he is such a catch, then let the bastard pay. (And needless to say don’t go on a second date) Remember: if he is stingy with money, he is also stingy with emotions, and as a rule, selfish in bed. If he is reluctant to pay the bill and even worse, if he is making statements about how “feminists love equality but not when it comes to paying the bills” and the like, then he is an immature, selfish little prick (who is possibly also little-pricked), with whom you are better off without.
On the other hand, if he pays the bill and makes a fuss about it, like he is making you a favour, like it is some sort of a magnanimous manly act, worthy of adoration and applause, and possibly sexual rewards, like he is the big man who is taking “care of you” by paying for a plate of a risotto (or let us be frank, probably a green salad with no dressing), then again, RUN! Run now, run hard, run fast. Because he is the kind of man who will treat you like his possession, who will feel entitled to control your life in every way imaginable, and he is one thread short of being a predator, and trust me, he is the last thing you need if you are a normal, independent type of woman, who is looking for a partner in life, not a jailer. In short, yes, the matter of the bill on that first date, says a lot about things to come. Beware!
FIRST KISS: Know that nothing will be as great as that first kiss. Even if he is the greatest guy you have ever met, and you are destined to have a great relationship that can survive a Sunday trip to IKEA and that it will end when one of you dies, or ideally, when you die on the same day in each other's arms surrounded by kids and grandkids, it will still be a downhill after that, for the simple reason that no guy can actually live up to the fantasy a woman creates in her head on that moment when he leans in... No guy will be so great as that guy who prompted her into anticipation... For as long as your anticipation lasted, he was just perfect, just because you still haven’ t seen him as he is: a faulted human being (which BTW is what you are too…)
SEX: Sex changes things. There is no way around this. It doesn’t matter if you are with a guy with whom you are spookily compatible, who enjoys the same foods and movies and TV shows and books and sports as you; someone who is kind to your family and loves your friends and pets; someone who finishes your sentences, or has the same playlist on his i-pod, or someone you don't want to kill after a trip to the mall, if the sex is bad, you will eventually split up. If it’ s so-so, you might not, but you will always have this sense that you are with the wrong person and there is someone else out there for you. And if it’s mind-blowing / continents-are-separating / planets-are-colliding / nova-explosions-are-occurring-great, you will do nothing else but that: it will eat up all other activities and aspects of the relationships - for a few months at least – and swallow you whole. Great sex even with a guy with whom you are totally, criminally incompatible (which is usually the case, Nature being such a manipulative bitch with a sick sense of humour...), will do the same too, mind you… Only difference being, there will always be an end looming in the sweaty horizon. And a bunch of regrets too…
Also, remember, a guy telling you “you look pretty”, or “I want you”, or even “will you marry me?”, should not be enough of a reason to make you endure any kind of weird sex thing he saw in a porn, which you frankly find to be degrading, one-sided, or simply gross. Keep in mind, just because you are not into what he’ s into, doesn’ t in fact make you “cold” or non-sexual, and he is not worth your time and you ought to leave if he makes you feel that. (And you should stop feeling the need to prove to men that you are indeed sexual and by that, ending up victimizing yourself) If you are not into having sex with him at all, or not in the manner that he wants, or are just not in the mood to perform some kind of sexual act of the unrequited variety, then just say so! Don’ t pretend to be into what he is into just to keep him, or in order to gain “points”. Stop aspiring to become any guy’ s personal porn star / sex slave. In short, don’ t “allow” him to use you, so that he’ ll think you are hot, or consider marrying you, and if he’ s your husband so that he won’ t leave you for another who is more willing to comply… Be an adult! Say what you want. Say what you hate. (You are in fact allowed this option you know!!) Because guess what? Unless you speak now, you will have a whole lifetime of servicing him ahead of you, and how is that a good prospect for you?
Women of pass generations were denied the right to have a saying in what was being done to them sexually by men – not to mention that these were men they did not even choose themselves! They were seen as nothing but bodies, and the property of their husbands. Being sexual themselves, or voicing their desires, made them whores to the eyes of men, and having a say in what was being done to them was literally unthinkable and equated with a sin, and occasionally, even punishable by law! Sadly, in a world where sexual ethics and aesthetics are being more and more defined by hardcore pornography, and more often than not, violence-oriented pop culture and rape culture, women are again finding themselves in pretty much the same situation: they are still being asked to be nothing but bodies and to happily and dutifully endure the same kind of unrequited, degrading or violent acts porn stars are forced to endure for a pay check. They are still sadly afraid to voice their desires, not so that they won’ t be seen as whores, but so that they won’ t be seen as “cold” or not “cool” enough. How is that any different though, from what has been happening for generations? They still have no voice, they are still nothing but body parts, they are still being used, they are still compromising, still pretending, still allowing men to use, abuse and victimize them. So that they ‘ll be seen as “hot” and “free-spirited”, and “sexy”, and “good sports”, and “up for anything”. But mostly, so that they’ ll have a chance of competing with the porn stars who took a permanent residence in their partner’ s head. But is it really worth it? And is he (the porn-addict "HE" who has no idea who you really are, or what you really need from life or in bed) really worth it? Think about it for a moment.
How about you take a different road? How about you stop feeling the need to prove that you are worthy of a man’ s attention or approval by servicing him, or allowing him to rape you (which is what is happening if he is doing something that you don’t want, and you just let him, because you are too scared, or too needy for his approval) or even hit you, or torture you in bed, because apparently being hit or tortured by a guy, is very VERY “hot” these days! (An entire generation of women is nowadays being brainwashed, and carefully groomed by pop culture and the porn industry – which are of course both controlled by men, and created for, and driven by male needs - into believing that violence, sadism, cruelty, torture, rape, humiliation are hot stuff! As a result, an entire generation of men is finally legitimized in hitting women “recreationally” and getting away with it!)
How about you become a TRULY free-spirited woman who claims her own right to feel love and pleasure in the manner that works for her too? How about you become a truly independent woman who doesn’ t give a fuck about how she will be seen by others? How about you become an actual adult individual, saying what you actually want and what you frankly hate? And how about you realise that if he can’ t handle it, then you are better off without him? Just release him. Let him go back to his computer monitor, and give yourself the chance to be with a guy who sees you as something more than just random body parts or his personal sex slave. (And do understand that you ARE in fact, more than that!)
For the same reason, don’t be induced by your porn-addict of a husband into doing sex tapes, or taking pole dancing, or strip-tease lessons. And stop claiming that you are doing it because it is "sexy", “fun”, or because it is “a good cardio” or because it makes you feel “empowered”. Just be honest that you are doing it in order to compete with the sex "workers" with whom your spouse is obsessed. If you want sexy, how about you talk openly about what you like (or hate) in bed so you will have an actual orgasm from time to time? And if you want a good cardio, take up jogging for God-sakes, and if you want to be empowered, read about Mary Wollstonecraft or Susan B. Anthony, or Andrea Dworkin, or better still, strive to become the highest-ranking person at your job, be an activist, become active in politics, or actually dare to speak about misogyny, the porn culture and sexual discrimination, or indeed against marriage (Patriarchy's main way of implementing its rules) without feeling scared that you will be seen as a "sex-hater" or a “man-hater”! Just face the realities of your relationship bravely and release him, so that he can go in search of a real sex "worker" since he needs it that badly, and so that you will find someone who deserves you!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT GUY: Know that no matter how much you want and wish it, or even work on it, your partner is not likely to change. (Either choose a guy you like, or learn to live with the guy with whom you ended up. Or divorce the bastard.)
Know that not all relationships end up – or should end up – in a wedding ceremony. Women – at least in the Western world - have finally reached a point when they can actually have choices in life, just because they can earn an income! Don’ t fall into that same old trap into which endless generations of women were forced to fall, just because they were given no other alternative than being a guy’ s wife, because they were not allowed to work, have their own money, homes, opinions, desires, dreams, or alternative sort of families.
Also, don’ t be with a guy who makes you feel like you are not good enough because you are no longer twenty years old, or a size 0. Don’ t be intimidated into changing how you look or feel about yourself, so that he will have his fantasy (that he is with a younger woman) and you will have your own (that you are with a guy who actually loves you)…
Don’ t choose a partner just because you run out of options, or feel flattered by the attention he gives you. Don’ t choose someone who makes you deny who you are, or someone who is good “on paper” but for whom you have no feelings. Or desire. Don’ t settle just to say you too, are married. Don’ t be with a guy you hate, just to have kids (if you hate him as a man, how come you see him as a suitable father for your kids?) Don’ t get married just to have a wedding day. And don’ t get married, unless you fall in love AND are prone to compromising.
Ideally, choose a partner you are attracted to, someone you find to be interesting, and with whom you are sexually compatible, who makes you feel like it’s OK to be yourself, and if you are exceptionally lucky, someone who actually deserves your respect! Someone who has the same sense of right and wrong, and the same sense of humour as you, and generally speaking, doesn’ t make you want to shoot yourself in the leg when he talks. These will make the bad days bearable, and the forgiving of the hard stuff, easier.
And if you feel you must marry him, do yourself a favour: have separate bathrooms. It might save your marriage. Not to mention your sanity.
"Dear Women - Part I": Art & Words Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved.
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Read also: "Dear Men"