I realise that I can only speak from my experience, although I know for a fact that most Spanish women of my generation would probably agree. There are many subtle ways in which I still detect harsher judgment being passed on women than on men. We are still, in some ways, at a liminal stage.
I don’t feel free to do certain things that I see men do daily without any raised eyebrows, such as having a noon whiskey alone at a bar. If it happens once, it may be ignored. If it happens again, my prospective pupils will get the image of an untrustworthy teacher. Never mind that I am reliable and never show up late or drunk to a class.
I was taught -brainwashed, actually- that I am responsible for any harm that befalls me if I am out after a certain hour… unless I am accompanied by a man. I have learned that there’s no quicker way to stop a man from showering you with unwanted attention than to say loudly that your husband (not boyfriend) will be around in a moment. I have learned that at my age I can have a husband but a ‘boyfriend’ means I am loose, cheap and probably not a good mother. It causes raised eyebrows.
I recently read an article about a woman -Spanish- who was conceived by her mother to be perfect. Her name was Hildegart Rodríguez, the educator of the Spanish proletariat at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her mother Aurora conceived her because she hated all the women she knew and wanted to prove that she could mold her daughter into the most perfect creature. Hildegart had an extensive education, she was precocious and bright and could read by the age of three. At the age of fifteen, she wrote articles for socialist publications. She wrote erudite treaties on the liberation of women, on contraception, motherhood and other social issues. However, her mother kept her under direct surveillance constantly, even sleeping together. She was, obviously, sexually repressed by her obsessive mother, who thought sex was disgusting. She theorized about what she was never allowed to experience.
Long story short, when she began to show a need for more freedom than her mother was willing to give her, she was killed by her. Apparently, the most perfect woman in Spain deserved death for daring to be herself and defy authority. She could not be tolerated in her natural state and making her own decisions.
Maybe it’s Spain. I don’t know. Maybe I am paranoid, which is possible. The story of Hildegart, ‘The Red Virgin’ as she was called by Havelock Ellis, reinforces the lesson I learned at age 9: you are not welcome to be you. You’re too loud (for a girl), too opinionated (for a girl) and you should behave like a lady, so buckle up and bear it. Anything you do is your entire responsibility. Anything that happens to you is your due for being an upstart.
Maybe it’s because I am a Green Dog and therefore inherently strange. I have little in common with my contemporaries. Growing up in different places makes you sort of a loner and if you’re an introvert it just gets worse.
You may ask, and rightly so, what makes a Green Dog actually so strange.
There is no short way to answer.
Brevity can be deceitfully simple. It can seem to contain all the necessary, vital facts, but often it just rushes to stereotypical conclusions that do little to clarify the meaning or the sense of actions or words.
So I kindly suggest you take a seat, and above all, I thank you for bearing with the ramblings of this Green Dog who is always questioning reasons, motives, whys and wherefores.
Green Dogs are strange because we don’t comply with many social norms, either because we disagree with them or because we simply don’t see the point.
Green Dogs are strange because we simply can’t understand how other people’s brains function, especially if they work at a slower speed than ours. We get ourselves going in circles, once we start. Jumping from one task to the next, spinning like tops!
Green Dogs cause some people to break out in hives. Always inquisitive, always wondering out loud whether it is us that are weird or it is this world gone unhinged.
Ooh I love this post! There are a whole lot of double standards and unrealistic expectations impacting women. And even more social norms and such. It feels good not to worry about them, not so good about the rap you get, but I think it’s worth it at least. I’d rather be genuine and alone than fake and plentiful.
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I totally agree! It took me over twenty years to decide to get out and move on…
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It didn’t take me very long but my circumstances had a lot to do with that. The funny thing is now a lot of people tell me that I’m wise beyond my years. I wouldn’t say that, I would just say I’ve experienced a bit more than the average 18 year old has.
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