News, Views, Happiness Pursued

Kid #2

Permission to Bitch

by | Oct 2, 2022

When do I get to be fucking crazy? When do I get to be the bitch? 

When do I get to let go of my standards of myself? Of others’ expectations, and societal expectations? I go to a women’s college, so I’m pretty familiar with crazy bitches. Intimately so. 

(Not that women are more crazy than men. Perhaps in some ways we are. But that’s because we are constantly belittled and gaslit and disadvantaged. Of course, some of us don’t deal with that in a tame, sane way. I realized recently the extent to which I participate in this gaslighting. My most common offense is something like weaponized incompetence, except I’m weaponizing the idea of incompetence against others. I tend to assume more feminine people are more incompetent. I am a mansplainer among women. What would you call that? Gendered condescension? Just straight up misogyny?) 

I want to be that fucking crazy bitch. It’s more interesting, anyways. I want to be slovenly. Gluttonous. Greedy. Greedy beyond compare. I want to take and take and take. I want to be even more self-centered. I want to not care about my volume, or even the words I say. I want to be unabashedly prideful and lusty. I want to be a narcissist. A delusionally happy one. Do those exist? 

Someone asked me recently to promise them I’d fight for my happiness. I want to do that, too. But I am so fucking bored. And tame. I am so tamed. Society has me caged, chained, cuckolded by anxiety. I must not step a foot out of line. And, really, how can any of us? Even if we can imagine a more beautiful life and world, how impossibly hard is it to fight against the deep, deep, powerful norms of society? 

I’ve been reading about respectability politics, especially in the context of Black women in the church. They used the concept of respectability as a political avenue to equality, to distance their “race” (and I put “race” in quotes because race isn’t real; and I don’t mean that in a “I don’t see color” way, I mean it in a “race is the byproduct of racism and colonialism” way) from the negative stereotypes associated with them. But, of course, these negative stereotypes are also rooted in racism and colonialism. In the “Sambo” and “mammy” caricatures. In Jim Crow and lynchings. 

I think, in most cases, it is useless to try and prove yourself human to a society that hates you and, more importantly, is so dependent on using you, your body, your labor. It doesn’t matter to those who need to believe you are inhuman in order to justify using you. It will not help you to break your bones to fit into their mold. 

I am remembering that misogyny affects my views, too, that I cannot devalue femininity. Modern Black activists realize they cannot and will not stand to whitewash themselves. Tressie McMillan Cottom writes in her book Thick about “fixing her feet,” how she does it to fit in and hide her bow legs and pigeon toes, but how, after a lifetime of fixing her feet, she is left with worn out joints and constant pain. 

So. I know I cannot be a demon of lust, greed, pride, all the other sins of desire. I know I owe something to others. I know we all have a duty to each other. Because I am committed to collectivity. I think solidarity is our only solution. I know individualism kills and, more importantly, divides. I think we must all take pride and find community within the ways we are divided. Jamelle Bouie, in his New York Times column “Black Like Kamala,” points out how necessary it is for Black people to identify with their blackness to survive in a racist world. Just as all other marginalized groups must identify with their labels to survive and find community. And yet, I think the only way to leave this world is to put that all aside. How can both be true at the same time? 

So, yes, greed? Greed is awful. It is the root of evil, as it is the root of capitalism, of control. That which divides. And yet, can’t we be more greedy in other ways? In demanding for ourselves? At least from ourselves? I want to demand more of myself everyday. I want to wake up and demand a fleck of happiness from myself. I want to get out and bed and demand a craft, a poem, an appreciation of the leaves against the sky. I want to walk and demand of myself, Be within you and your head, not others’. And I want to demand of myself, See your fellow human. Do not be so quick to judge. They are all you have. We are all we have. How else will we survive, if not with each other, united? 

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