My wife and I were talking about “being true to yourself” yesterday when she made the point that for women this always somehow meant not fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities (because it will destroy you). Being true to yourself is the exact opposite to being true to your word. I’ve made the observation before that the phrase as commonly used is a codification of childishness. However, this time it reminded me of a passage from Lorraine Berry’s Salon piece*:
Had that spark always been there? Had I had been too caught up in the mundaneness of married life? Had I really been yet another one of those women who had given away her identity when she said “I do?” And I don’t mean “I do” to marriage — but rather “I do” to adult responsibility, jobs, children, mortgage, graduate school, paying bills. Where was the me in all of that?
I’ve always had this sense, but Lorraine Berry doesn’t even try to couch it in feminist or woman’s magazine newspeak. There is no waxing mysterious about feeling trapped due to a problem that has no name. She actually comes right out and complains about being trapped in adulthood. This is a mother of two who is almost 50, writing about the unfairness of having been forced to grow up in her mid to late 20s. Some editor at Salon must have saw this and thought; this would make a great column. It speaks to every woman’s crushed dreams.
So here you have it. The evil patriarchy’s greatest crime is expecting women to grow up.
*For those prone to mix up their Lorraine Berry true life essays, this is the true life essay where she was happily married and attracted to her husband until just before the birth of her second child. It should not be confused with the true life essay where she was an unhappily married woman at a much younger age who throughout her marriage pined for the alpha who scored a same night lay with her when she was 19. I hope this clears up any confusion you may have experienced.