Of course, I would do my best not to disappoint him…
I am wondering today what is the cause of this need to please everyone, however, I suspect it may come from childhood. Maybe it’s since my father preferred to take my brother to help him with the reparation of our car because boys have to be educated by their fathers, while daughters have to be educated by their mothers. Maybe it came along with my mother’s demands in sports, forcing me to go to training and reproaching me after every workout during which I got a bruise because of falls and violent play, that only weak people cry and if I am weak, I will get nothing in my life. Maybe it all started when I realized that in the area I lived, I had no friends and later on, the friend I got, my mother asked me to be cautious because he was a boy.
There have always been factors that strengthened this need to please everyone, especially males. When the biology teacher sent all my male-identifying classmates to another classroom to explain the topic of menstruation separately. Every time I was not allowed access to the church without a skirt over my knees, a handkerchief to cover my head or when I was on my period… When seeing men sitting on the right side of the church building, while women on the left, I asked my mother what was the reason, and the answer I received was that men should not be distracted. When the media labelled women as representatives of the weaker gender When the boy I was dating told me that he would protect me. When I was told that if I gain weight, no one will like me. When my coach told me that I was running like a little girl. Whenever uttering the word feminism, my male colleagues would make jokes about how crazy, disgusting, and extreme the ones who claim to be feminists are.
I’m afraid to disappoint him, and I’m afraid to hear him saying that he doesn’t like me. I am afraid of his rejection because I know that the nature of my being is based on his validation. I am afraid I will make him uncomfortable, so I will trample on myself and my needs… I’m afraid he won’t look me in the eyes as I pass by, so I’ll pretend to be someone I am not, and I will laugh at his jokes that I don’t even find funny. I am so afraid that he will turn his back immediately after I made a mistake and seek refuge in someone else. For these reasons, it is very simple to develop internalized misogyny, and this is just one of the hundreds of consequences that the patriarchal system has conditioned.
Beyond any confident appearance of my personality, beyond all the inner resources I affirm and prove to have, beyond my air full of indifference and conviction in my own strength, I am a child scared of the world that will always conform, regardless of the burning rebellion in her eyes. Because beyond all disobedience, I am programmed to value his acceptance and understanding.
Nevertheless, I know that my female predecessors endured years of violence and fought for their existence and mine. I know that my mother, my sister, my aunties, my grandmothers, my female-identifying cousins, my female-identifying friends confronted diverse sides of patriarchy and even if patriarchy is deeply rooted in all of us, we stand together.
Beyond my jealousy for him being in love with you, I appreciate your intelligence. Beyond my envy for the attention you get from men, I appreciate you for your kindness and curiosity. Beyond the slut-shaming that I am trying to oppress in myself, I appreciate you for your strength.
I don’t think that we will ever be able to suppress the effects of patriarchy, but the love, the respect and the appreciation for all the women can overpower these effects.