I was rewatching Halle Berry’s Catwoman tonite, and it got me thinking. I know that Wonder Woman is supposed to be this great re-visioning of what it means to be a strong, independent woman. I know many people looked at Catwoman as a complete and utter failure because of any number of excuses.
But what struck me is that what the movie does is reveals that women can only be free when they choose to define themselves, when they choose their identity and are true to it. It’s not about being “good” or being “bad,” but being who they are at their core.
For some women, being like Sharon Stone (Laurel Hadere) or Alex Borstein (Patience’s friend Sally) is who they want to be. They want to fit in with the world and build power and freedom within the limitations of what our society thinks is appropriate behavior for a woman.
They think if they can somehow attain that power (through their relative “attractiveness” or how closely to the supposed feminine ideal they can be) then they will be accorded the freedom to be themselves. The problem is, by the time that they attain that height, they have become something completely at odds with who they really are. Sadly, if they choose to try to reflect that inner truth, all of that so-called “power” or “freedom” disappears like a burst soap bubble.
The “living marble” that Laurel has become is a wonderful metaphor for this false self. We choose to try to conform as a way to keep from being hurt. We become who our family wants, who our husband or partner wants, who their children or friend group wants us to be — or who WE think they want us to be.
There’s a 4-year gap between my elder sister and myself. You wouldn’t think that would make a major difference between how she views the world and between how I view it. However, parents can make huge changes that mean during the same effective years in mental development that will make a huge difference between siblings, even close ones.
Yet, even in something as basic as financial outlooks can be seriously changed between siblings if their parents make a significant change during both the middle childhood (approximately ages 6-12) and adolescence (approximately ages 13-21). This is because, during these two stages of childhood, children are learning specific skills and habits that will be used in adulthood.
For example, in middle childhood, we learn money habits. We learn what is the familial “norm” and how we should be expected to be responsible choices for the level of fiscal security we may or may not have. During adolescence, we learn how to apply these skills to real finances and many of us (at least those of us in the lower middle class or those living in the lower class or poverty level) learn what it takes to have a real-life job.
In our case, my sister went through her middle childhood before my father felt the ‘call to ministry’ (the link goes to a Baptist view of it, but it offers a general overview of what it means to be called as a Christian minister). Before he felt that call, the combined income of both of my parents put them squarely in the middle of the road of middle class. Technically, by current valuation of the dollar (2016 versus 1978 – the year he quit his job to become a minister), it would be a little on the side of the better off middle classes.
In 1978, my sister was turning 14, while I was turning 10.
March has been a significant month for me this year. There have been a lot of insights and/or epiphanies that I have had both during therapy and outside of therapy. Things that have rocked the foundation of my personality. How I perceived things that I believed with all of my being, that may or may not have been based in real, objective reality rather in my own subjective world.
The thing is, that is a normal experience for any human if they are honest with themselves and are truly attempting to be the best variation of themselves that they can be. But, it requires an honesty with one’s Self that few people are actually willing to do.
It’s far easier to blame other people for the things that are wrong in your life. That way, you can tell yourself that you have neither control of the situation nor that you are just as responsible for its continuation.
For example, as the person who primarily was responsible for the financial end of things while I was married, it was quite easy for my ex to blame our financial situation on me. That way he didn’t have to take responsibility for the fact that he often manipulated me into paying for things we just didn’t have the income to support. I would rob Peter to pay Paul, simply to keep the peace at home. Now, obviously, I bear accountability for not looking him straight in the eyes and telling him, “we don’t have the ability to do that.” But as a fully matured adult, he bore the same responsibility to deny himself instant gratification for things he wanted so that we had the money for things we actually needed as a family.
No situation is ever truly clearly delineated, particularly in interpersonal ones.