Can Women Have It All? The Cause of Your Fall.


I was contacted by the people who do PR for VILA to write something about their new campaign: something about confidence not being for sale. They have this cute little montage of models falling on their faces on the catwalk, and then gracefully picking up their shoes and walking on.




 I like the spirit of the campaign. Confidence is good. Not letting things get you down when they are actually quite insignificant is good. But I wanted to write something deeper, really think about the rhetoric around getting up after falling down.

Have you guys followed the "women can't have it all" debate online? About this vague concept of "having it all" that haunts our dreams and visions for the future, this goal that supposedly lies just around the horizon, attainable if we just work a little harder, give a little more, be a little better? And the tragedy of it all is that we never quite reach that goal, always having to make choices that eliminate other options, until time brings us to the end of the road where you just have a straight line towards the horizon, no more exciting bends or exits to take?

What does "having it all" even mean? I'll tell you what it means. It means that society is telling us all what our objectives should be, what can truly make us happy, and how we are at fault for still failing to find that pot of gold at the rainbow's end. 

Just imagine society (the media, the people, the capitalism, the patriarchy, the everything) as the leprechaun that dances around a pot with a lid on it, supposedly filled with your happiness. It taunts you with tales of what exactly you are missing out on: more money, better looks, a perfect education, a captivating personality, a reliable boyfriend that loves you the way you are but also gives you passionate lovin' after big yet romantic fights, a rewarding and highly esteemed career, a wild sexlife, time to read all those books you should be reading, the perfect pair of nude pumps, holidays abroad, perfect relationships with your family, cooking skills, interesting friends, both security and freedom.

the ugly face of patriarchy

It is a fact that we as women (or as men) probably aren't capable of having all of that. OF COURSE we fail. Much of feminist theory (HOLLER) is about that. It is important to analyze all the ways patriarchy is setting us up to fail, since this is a very real cause of the dichotomies of womanhood, like being sexy BUT NOT TOO SEXY, or being confident BUT NOT TOO CONFIDENT, whereas for men more is simply that: more. But how about we first ask ourselves what we REALLY want apart from what we SHOULD want according to society (and patriarchy)? What's the use being depressed that we aren't getting something we're not even sure we actually desire?

After all, isn't it a lot easier to get up after failing if YOU were the one who set the bar? Wouldn't you be more motivated if your motivations were your own, rather than a mix of what you want and what everyone around you wants? It can be hard to take your own side. Saying no once in a while. Not going for the thing everyone around you seems to be loving. 

I often feel jaded or ungrateful for not being over the moon about invitations to certain events or other offers I'm getting thanks to my blog. It can be hard to REALLY accept and pursue your own priorities rather than someone else's. I believe it might even be harder for most women than for most men, because we are continuously reminded of what we mean to others, rather than putting an emphasis on what we are to ourselves (the male gaze and all that). Some people around you probably won't understand and give you a hard time, but in the end you'll be a lot happier if you fight your own battles. If you know what it is that you want, pulling the lid off the pot of gold won't be such a let down.

Yes, getting up after falling down is a good thing. But before you set off on a fool's crusade for some vague concept of happiness that might not even ring true for you, ask yourself what road you want to take. If you know what you want, falling down once in a while is just a part of the prize. I hope that's the way those models felt.


19 comments

  1. Pray, gurl! Everybody should chillax a bit and not loose life while chasing the standard of happiness set by society.

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  2. Prachtig geschreven en ik ben het natuurlijk helemaal met je eens. Het is een van de grootste doelen in mijn leven geworden om mijn eigen prioriteiten te stellen en me constant eerlijk af te vragen wat MIJ gelukkig zou maken. En vooral niet bang te zijn voor wat andere mensen van me denken/niet bang zijn om te falen en fouten te maken. Tijd gaat zo fucking snel voorbij, ik wil m'n leven leiden en niet LIJDEN, HA! WORDPUNS R THE BEST YO

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  3. I really love your blog also for those points that you can develop with such ability, asking what seems to be the right questions, and everything in a very simple way (great cause i'm still like 5 sometimes).

    I think this is a bit more complicated than being relaxed and find immediatly what you want & need. I'm pretty much convinced that many people are not sensitive enough for being aware of what they really are, that they really exist, as a proper identity, bringing us to our proper goals and desires. But it's hard to find ourselves while being surrounded by advertising, for example, because, they are kind of smart somehow... Anyway, taking a little time for trying to feel what is good and what is not, is a beginning.

    (Hope I did not digress THAT much)

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  4. yesss I love what you're saying! so many people aren't actually aware of existing, just being lived rather than really grabbing life by the throat and living it! I'm glad that you liked my post, I often feel like I'm just blabbering on so it's great to hear that some people "get it"!

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  5. You kidding, expressing yourself and sharing is the first way to realize and claim what/who you are (and you do it damn well). By the way, I usually ramdomly read your blog cause I don't know it for so long and you already posted so much on it, so yesterday after answering here I read this post http://stylingdutchman.blogspot.fr/2010/09/what-i-want-to-look-like.html and this one too http://stylingdutchman.blogspot.fr/2011/02/tumbleweed.html and, ah, totally agree. Nothing will never be better than integrity, noone should let fashion or society or whatever be stronger than that.

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  6. I really love this Annebeth. You nailed it for me. I could use one of these pep talks every once in a while, working in the 'fakest' business there is ;)


    xxx
    Nath.

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  7. aangezien ik met mijn diploma waarschijnlijk ook ergens in PR of communicatie zal belanden, was dat inderdaad een van de motivaties voor het schrijven van deze post. UGH, het leven!

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  8. Of je kan voor de niet-evidente keuze gaan Annebeth! Ik kan het je alleen maar aanraden ;)


    xxx
    Nath.

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  9. raad? tips? ik kan ze gebruiken, voor het geval dat dat doctoraat niets wordt!

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  10. Ben altijd fan van de outfits, maar nog meer van Annebeth zelf. YOU ROCK.

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  11. Dit heeft me helemaal opgekikkerd! Ik denk en voel vaak aan dat mensen rondom mij denken 'waar ben jij mee bezig, word eens volwassen, ga samenwonen, leer koken...', en soms denk ik inderdaad dat dat de weg is die ik moet nemen. Dat ik anders 'achterop geraak'. Terwijl, eigenlijk, achterop geraken helemaal niet bestaat als je ervoor kiest de dingen anders te doen dan het gros van de mensen. Mijn eigen prioriteiten stellen en me niets aantrekken van wat er van me verwacht wordt, zo hoort het! Bedankt voor de bevestiging en de pep talk ;)

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  12. het is een constante struggle om je bewust te blijven van de maatschappelijke druk die op je schouders rust ipv er gewoon door vooruit te worden gestuwd. Het is vooral zo moeilijk omdat anderen het niet snappen, zodat je echt waardevolle contacten beperkt raken tot mensen die je respecteren in je eigen waarde. Dat zijn er niet veel :(

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  13. thank you so much for reading! I had totally forgotten about those posts, I really am a thinker I guess :D

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  14. Wat is me dit voor een geweldig artikel zeg :-D bulls-eye!

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