Monday, 26 May 2014

Falling into Social Norms

Today while painting my walls in my bedroom, my grandfather was watching me making sure I did it correctly. Of course I had insisted I paint the walls myself, it's my bedroom after all! I should do the dirty work! But me being me, I was horrible at it. Not because I didn't try just because painting is apparently not a skill set I have. My grandfather ended up taking over and left me standing there like an idiot watching him. I waited and watched and I knew I had to do SOMETHING to help out! I wasn't about to let him do all the work, I did the little things like moving the cans of paint, the drop sheet and anything else he needed done and by the end I was mainly still waiting and watching.

This is the point in the story where my inner feminist wants to burn myself alive. I was so fed up with doing nothing I asked my grandfather what he wanted for lunch and I made us sandwiches. Although I am happy I made it for him, I am stabbing myself on the inside for first of all, not being able to take control and be able to paint my room productively, then having a man take over the job; and then I subdued myself to sending myself off to the kitchen to make a sandwich! Am I really that much set into a traditional role that I couldn't bring out my inner man and paint those damn walls myself?

We see instances like these often in history and in modern day stories. One of my favourite examples of this is through Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel. Some people may be aware that before her fame as a fashion designer and the woman who launched modern day woman's clothing, she was a mistress. When she was struggling to support herself in life, she succumbed to a mans wish and became his mistress in order to support herself. Another man after that one later funded her venture into creating hats (another one of her lovers), this then led to the rise of Chanel the company. But without a mans help and him stepping in she would have never found her own economic freedom in the end. Arthur Capel, the man who funded her business once said "I thought I'd given you a plaything, I gave you freedom."

It was a man who gave her freedom. But it was she herself who utilised it. She allowed herself freedom, and although she also lived within the confines of social norms by living as a man mistress, allowed him to provide for her for many years. Chanel still became independent in the end. She did beat the social norms that held her for so many years.

And like Chanel when she was young, I needed someone to help me through life, fund my ventures (University) and such. Not because I am a ill minded woman who can only do house work but because I am still young and I am still learning to care for myself and paint my own walls. I may relay on a man to paint my walls now, and I may show my gratitude through making lunch. And in the future it may very well be the same. But I know who I am in this regard and I know that I am an independent woman who can still be on her own. Even if that means horribly painted walls or just leaving them white!

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