The feelings that come up when you read or watch someone you so readily admire and relate to, are really interesting. I realize today that my female heroes are women who so honestly depict their experience, they consequently mirror my own experiences. I’ve started reading Simone de Beauvoir’s memoirs; she writes about her emotional experiences growing older, self discovery, and her relationship to her family and the world around her. Literally every page, my mouth is hanging open with astonishment at her ability to so profoundly write about the cognitive development and experience of growing up female. She is amazing at depicting the anxiety, enjoyment, and disappointment of existing and changing at the same time. As an academic, I feel her experiences so greatly mirror mine, that it is almost like reading a play about my emotional life. I never want the book to end, because the satisfaction I get from reading about another woman with the same experience is amazing.
I also just finished an episode of Girls, and I am so overwhelmed with appreciation for Lena Dunham to have created a show that so honestly depicts the weirdness of being in your 20′s, of all the mistakes, and the often contradictory life experiences that occur in lieu of one’s moral self. I read somewhere that some feminists (which is a title I stand by) are commenting on how in the last episode, all the women used sex to gain power, however I didn’t see that (only after reading their comments did I slightly see).
I think so often people try to analyze or claim meaning to an experience or show or book within the context of some absolute essentialist manner, “this is not feminist because… ” “All the women are using sex because, ” rather than commenting on the fact that maybe this is an actual account into the often muddy grey zone young women find themselves in. We can’t always keep our guard up, eagerly playing out the moral code of feminism, or some religion, or at least political correctness. Women and life are much more complex then that, and the second we try to essentialize the experience, we lose the point. To me it seems counter-feminist to minimize this show to “unfeminist rhetoric,” and by doing so we lose sight of the fact that this show is commenting on some women’s lives in a real way.
In any case, I am so thankful for de Beauvoir and Denham for gracing this earth with a raw account of the emotional, mental, and moral roller coster that is female.