I’m reading a book right now called Shantaram which is one of the most captivating, most appalling, and quite honestly, one of the very longest books I’ve ever read. It’s about a prison escapee originally from New Zealand, living in Bombay and his interaction with drug lords, the mafia, working in the slums as a doctor, living months in a brutal jail, and practically starving to death in the mountains of Afghanistan. More recently, I’ve chosen books in which I can identify with the main character. This book is not like this at all. In fact, I find myself wincing, revolted, and wondering how anyone could endure what this man went through. Much of the book is a true story, which is alluded to on the back cover, and the man is still alive to tell about it to this day. I must hand it to men, they possess a strength, determination, and willpower that I am not sure many women could stand up against physically….or could they??? So, here is a topic that while reading I’ve questioned,
“Who has it worse? Men or Women?”
I posted this question to my Facebook and within seconds I had more than 15 comments from men and women, near and far, across the board. The consensus was that it matters on whether or not we are speaking physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally, and we have to factor in such things as income, education, family background, and region of the world.
Women are tough cookies, if they are mothers they have to deal with all of the emotional and physical repercussions of birthing a child, when they are single mothers, the responsibility is often placed largely on their shoulders for their birth. They reap quite a bit of judgement for promiscuous behavior in the social world, as opposed to men where it’s almost celebrated instead. They have to deal with emotions plummeting and soaring due to constant body changes, and physically speaking, they are typically a smaller constitution and have to deal demands on their physical being that do not come as easily in order to achieve say staying in shape, keeping strong bones. Women’s work and opinions, up until most recently, has been looked upon with scrutiny and without as much regard as men’s. Women are typically paid less, and are expected to “multitask”, balancing work, family, relationships, they are the planners, the cleaners, the household organizers. Women in the US also have high expectations placed upon them about how they look, act, think and care about things, eat, and even relax.
Men however have it tough as well, they have to fit into pretty big societal britches, requiring them to hold a lot of survival responsibility on their shoulders. They are counted upon in times of need, and take on the brunt of stress when the family unit or structure is scheduled for a breakdown. Men have to take in a lot of information and sort through to determine what is necessary for the keeping and what is to be discarded. Men are looked to for the guiding lights and leaders of our homes and our societies, and the pressure to make good decisions is constantly upon them. American society also presents them a mold into which they are supposed to fit, in which they are not stereotypically supposed to be emotional, talkative, or possessing a gentle spirit.
In my own personal relationships, and in my family life, I think I have it harder simply because I self inflict pain and punishment at any opportunity I get. I take on a lot more than I can handle, I fret and worry about every moment of everyday and torment myself with thinking about what other’s are thinking. I also feel a lot of shame and guilt for actions. Even ones as simple as, get this, wearing makeup and spending time on myself. Buying clothes. Guilty. Eating. Guilt. Using too much toilet paper in a week. Guilty. Eating chicken. Guilty. Not eating chicken. Guilty. Sleeping on a non-organic mattress. Shameful. Paying for the chiropractor. Shame on me. Quitting because it’s too expensive. Guilt. Too skinny. People make you feel guilty. Too fat. People make you feel ashamed.
Part of this is my own personal neurosis, people can’t truly make us feel a certain way, nor project their feelings upon me about what is good, what is not good and what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I’ve found though that when I don’t do that, I have a really hard time making decisions, so it’s always been easier to just go with the flow even if I do have to beat myself over the head with a coral reef to justify my actions later.
Here is an example of someone trying to put their beliefs on me, leaving me feeling a little guilty for something I did EVERYDAY and likely wouldn’t stop doing anytime soon:
I remember in college, a friend of mine said how terrible makeup was and how it would be better if no girls wore it. She quit wearing it right then and there, and I always felt so ugly because I used it as a crutch. Is it that terrible to wear makeup? To do my hair? I mean should we feel bad spending a little time on ourselves? Is it bad that I need to get in my two-hour gym sesh’ everyday rather than pay my bills. Kidding about the last part — but honestly, sometimes we just need to feel OK loving ourselves, no matter what that may mean. Let’s not make it harder on our ladynesses by staying up until 2am beating ourselves up mentally because our panties are tied in a wad. I mean, that’s fun and all, but it makes for a really crappy case of the Mondays. Here it is, ladies. Some before and afters of our getting ready remedies and in all our glory!
Beautiful BEFORE and beautiful AFTER. How is that feeling anything to be ashamed of!? Be a lady, take a load off and embrace every last aspect of ladyhood. I think THAT is what makes life easier for ANYONE over another. Relaxing and breathing into this wonderful opportunity we have, seeing the good and turning what we have been given into our own masterpiece! The world is our oyster! And ya know, all those other cliches….