This morning, a friend of mine posted an article about ‘Southern belles’. Now, this friend is a sensible woman. I respect her opinion. I think she has sense.
I read the article.
It was about ‘Southern’ women. Apparently we are very interested in using our womanly ways to control men. We are also very concerned about getting and staying married – preferably to our high school boyfriends. Based on the article, we also, apparently, are very ‘well preserved’ and we smell nice.
I very readily agreed with my friend that I do not know these women.
My mother – a very Southern woman herself – raised me to take care of myself. I learned from my mother – and both my grandmothers and my great-grandmother and her sister – that real women are independent. Real women take care of themselves. Real women do not need men. Real women are strong – not strong for girls, just strong.
None of these women encouraged me to use my womanly ways to control men. There was, I acknowledge, an expectation that I would marry, but not until I was ready, and certainly not until after I had gone to university and had been exposed to a broader sample of men, shall we say. . . .
I am, if I do say so myself, really rather well preserved. But I do not smell nice. The man will confirm this. . . .
The fact is, like many Southern women, I was raised to be an independent woman – dare I say, a feminist.
So shit like this really pisses me off.
I remember staring blankly at my boss years ago, when she told me to go use my ‘Southern charm’ on some colleagues to convince them to agree to our plan. I had no freaking clue what she was talking about. But she was from New England and had gone to an Ivy League, so clearly she was smart and worldly and knew what she was talking about.
So. . . .
I was angry about this article and feeling really rather high and mighty about my feminist heritage.
Then, I happened to glance into one of the groups I’ve been added to on the facebook.
For, you see, I have a confession. . . . When I was in college, I joined a sorority. Not just ‘a’ sorority – one of ‘the’ sororities. It doesn’t matter that I’ve since deactivated or resigned or asked them to strike my name from the books. It doesn’t matter that from the beginning I knew this was a bunch of sexist nonsense that didn’t feel right. I did it. I joined. I stuck with it throughout my college years. A blight on my record of independent feminist woman.
So, now, as I sit here feeling feminist and independent and above it all, it pops up to haunt me. To remind me to get over myself.
“OK, girls”, they say. “Alright, ladies,”, they say. “Getting together would be soooooooooo fun!”, they coo.
These are grown women – lawyers, fashion designers, entrepreneurs (and not all from ‘the South’, I would hasten to add). These are not ‘girls’. And what on earth does ‘ladies’ mean, anyway?
I shake my head in disgust.
But, the fact is, I’m not above it.
And they’re not below it.
These women are successful women who are living their lives as they see fit.
The fact is, I don’t want to be part of this reunion because my life has gone in a different direction. Different things appeal to me. It’s not because I am a feminist and they are not.
You see, the beauty of feminism is that we – we women – get to choose our own paths. We get to determine who and what we are and how we live our lives.
So I won’t define my (former) ‘sisters’ because they want to have a fun get-together.
And you don’t define me because I came from a certain region of the US of A.