When I get a puppy, I spend a lot of time and effort exposing the young dog to every possible alarming (to a dog) situation.
The pup accompanies me in the car on long and short drives. I walk the dog in all types of situations – nature trails, busy city roads, and everything in between. There is lots of time spent around people and other dogs, and other animals if at all possible. The more noise and confusion, the better. I wade into rivers and streams to get the puppy to follow me and lose fear of the water. We go to the groomer and the vet.
The puppy learns it can survive all of these scary situations and gains confidence.
The result of these early months of exposure to new things means this: Congratulations – you have a dog that is afraid of nothing. And…condolences – you have a dog that is afraid of nothing…hehehe. A total badass of a dog.
My favourite breed of dog is the miniature Schnauzer. This is a dog that is already possessed, pound for pound, of more courage than any other breed. Of that I am convinced. I am also 100% certain that when my Lucy looked in a mirror she saw a Rottweiler staring back at her. Miniature Schnauzers are the badasses of the dog world.
Women, whether they know it or not, are the badass sex. They are the Miniature Schnauzers of humanity.
The patriarchy knows this too. Which is why women are portrayed as weak, illogical and in need of protection. It is why women are chronically underpaid and their work is undervalued. We are so strong that extreme societal measures have to be taken in order for the patriarchy to continue.
We are dressed in pink and frills from the day we are born. We are put in clothes and shoes that limit our movement and our play. We are punished for expressing traits males are praised for. We are praised when we are gentle and nice; when we are “pretty”. We are ridiculed and put down for being smart and sassy, and for not conforming to society’s expectations of beauty. We are told men’s violence towards us is our fault.
And when we age, we lose our value in this society. But the truth is this: when women age we become even stronger, smarter and sassier.
And this is how we are raised. This is the culture I was raised in.
I’d like to think things have changed, are changing. Recent, revealing events such as those surrounding the US election are making me doubt this.
Men are victims of this misogynistic culture as well, whether they realize it or not. They need to conform to society’s expectations of male behaviour or face ridicule and persecution. People who present as mixed or opposite or fluid gender…well, we all know how cruel this society can be to them. This is why feminism should be important to all people. It is not “just” about the rights of women. Feminism means ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.
Like my puppy, I have been put through a lot of scary situations and I have survived.
On my journey to becoming a badass widow I have survived:
- A long first marriage to a verbally abusive, controlling man who did his best to isolate me from my family and friends. Whose chronic bouts of long-term unemployment meant I had to pull the financial weight a lot of the time, in addition to the bulk of the parenting and household duties.
- More than a year of stalking and harassment by the same man when I exited the marriage after 17 years. A restraining order and multiple visits to jail had to happen before this criminal activity finally stopped. I thought nothing could be worse than remaining married. I was wrong.
- A second marriage to a man who initially presented as the answer to a prayer. Who wasn’t afraid of my intelligence and work ethic – who praised and complimented me and supported me. Who I thought was a soul mate but instead was a soul-less mate. Who turned out to be mentally ill. Who turned out to be a world-class liar and hypocrite. Who cheated on me. Who put me through OCD hell and severely strained my relationships with family and friends before the cancer finally took him out of our lives.
Somehow I survived these torturous situations and learned and grew.
And now I am fucking fearless. Congratulations Life, you have created a woman who is afraid of nothing. Also condolences, you have created a woman who will no longer be subdued.
And I know I am not alone. Where my dangerous, badass women (and men) at? The world needs us now.