I consider myself quite knowledgeable for my years, and over the past decade or so—it is probably even longer than that—there is a question which has puzzled me immensely, and no matter how much I ponder it, or in which way I attempt to see it, I simply cannot seem to figure it out: Why is being female the greatest of shames?

For my own part I have never wished to be anything else than female, and fact is that even if I were given one million dollars for being genetically altered to become male, I would pass the opportunity up, for I have never desired to be anything else than what I am. The reason for this is that I have always been female, I was made one; ever since the moment of conception, when I came into being for the first time, my twenty-third chromosomes have been homologous. Why this is a fate worth regretting a lifetime, I shall never understand.

Once upon a time—and in some places still—women were sacred creatures because they were the ones who gave birth to new life; they were the ones who illustrated the purpose of all human existence, both biologically as well as symbolically: the smiling sun upon the heavens is a goddess in many religions and Westerners still refer to their world as “Mother Earth”. For millennia the fertile female form has been celebrated, and its essence has been captured by skilled artists of ages past, some of their creations spared from the teeth of time for us to see.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

But those figurines—whose beauty is easily appreciated—stem from ages now long lost. As man left his hunter-gatherer days to cultivate the land his life changed forever, the greatest change of them all however yet to come. But eventually, it did arrive, and the man of today is now the resident of an increasingly post-industrial world, a world in which being female is the greatest of shames.

All ages have their Venuses. The hunter-gatherers had their figurines, such as the Venus of Willendorf, whose true purpose still is disputed—was she a depiction of a goddess, a charm of fertility, or was she simply a piece of art celebrating the beauty of the feminine? The agriculturalists had the true Venuses—the ones who gave their name to the morning star—and the Venus de Milo is still admired by millions every year. The industrialists too have ideal female beauties, but they are no longer celebrated in the same way.

No, the Venuses of industrialisation are raised to feel ashamed over having been cursed already at conception, they are taught that having homologous twenty-third chromosomes is being of lesser worth; the woman of today knows that she is inferior to any man. At least, this is the sole explanation I have come up with in regards to the question I mentioned before: Why is being female the greatest of shames?

In the industrial world the ideal woman is the one who pursues a career; for some reason she has ceased to value herself and instead elevated men to the skies. A modern woman shall not be content until she is identical to a man, and I am terribly sorry for being the one who brings her the news; but this, her ultimate goal, shall never be. She will never grow a beard and speak with a low tone of voice by natural means, for she is a woman—she should take pride in that!

Why Should They Do It?

Why Should They Do It?

Were women an obsolete a part of humanity they would all have been male, but considering how I am no man, there must be a reason for why there are women and why there are men. Fact is that they have different roles to fill, both equally important, despite not being the same. To say such a thing, as I just said, is however forbidden—and very strangely so. Again, I say, this can stem from no reason other than women refusing to acknowledge that they are equal to men.

The world is not fair, if it was, there would be neither males nor females, they would all be the same; both would be equipped with ovaries as well as testes—but such an egalitarian society I highly doubt I will ever see! To make up for this unfair a truth, nature is however most compassionate and makes sure that a foetus during gestation is exposed to hormones that eventually shall make it content with its lot. At least, this has worked in the case of me—I am a delighted female, I desire nothing more, but as far as the rest of humanity is concerned, I simply do not know.

Somewhere, deep inside, even the most female-despising of women must realise that she is seeking revenge for her fate in the wrong way, however so convinced of her own inferiority that she disregards from this and presses on in the pursuit of a goal she believes herself desiring to attain. And, when confronted with something that makes her uncomfortable, she charges and goes to attack instead of pondering its contents. To all such women I have one thing to say: An empty cart makes much noise, a full cart less so.

However, even broken clocks are right twice a day, and the situation of women has indeed improved. No longer need any woman die from complications in childbirth, and she is allowed to vote and to make her voice heard. No longer is a woman kept from making a career, she is allowed to seek the intellectual challenges which all human beings crave. This, I cannot critique—I have no reason to. What I do critique is that women believe themselves being of lesser worth. They are not, why do they even believe so?

There is no need for me to state facts—no-one will listen—but I tell you this—and you may consider it and draw your own conclusions—but ever since women started to doubt their value the world has started to shake. When the people who mattered most to the future of man have abandoned the most glorious of tasks, the consequences can be nothing but severe. All it takes is an open mind and a pair of eyes—look around!—is this world of ours a society that thrives? Something has gone wrong in this most modern age of man, and it is only because some people doubt themselves. I hate to point the finger—so I shall not do so—for those who are responsible know deep within who they are.

The celebrated modern woman is no longer a feminine beauty, she is an aspiring male. How has this come to be? What is it that makes women believe that they are worthless do they not live the life of a man? Shall the world ever come to acknowledge the simple fact that life is not fair, but that one’s lot still is better than none? It is with the greatest of regrets that I say that this I do not know; I know many things but the answer to these questions are still shrouded in mystery to me. One day, however, I intend to change this; one day, I shall know and make sure to tell you, for I believe that being female is just as fine a fate as being male.

Be proud of who you are, do not attempt to change! Take pride in being yourself, for people who know their worth and value have nothing to prove.

Finally, I shall say that man is a creature who learns from his own mistakes; a fact which delights me as the more educated man becomes the more ignorant shall he realise himself to be. And when his ignorance has been realised, there will no longer be any need for the goddesses to be ashamed.

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When Sweet Turns Bitter

January 10, 2009

Too commonly it has been said that time is what heals even the most vicious of wounds and this truth has by now become a comforting cliché; the reassurance that all miseries eventually shall come to pass the hope which inspires people to look forward and not remain static in a painful present. The validity of this notion I can verify in regards to both the experiences of myself and others, though I find it important to stress that all pains worth the mention are bound to in some way have left scars.

“The course of life never turns out as expected,” my mother has told me ever since the youngest years of my infancy in an attempt to make certain that her daughter, Miss Josephine, never is to travel farther than she can see down the road. Though I have despised those words since the fist time I heard them, I am certain that my mother’s mention of them served a purpose; reminding me of never submitting to the extravagancies conjured by a youthful mind yet untamed by the wisdom brought on by experience.

The wisest of men are those who have realised that there are no certainties in life; that nothing may ever be taken for granted. To do so is to disregard from doubt and to submit to the convincing allures of folly; to become one of the fools who doth think that they are wise. It is a fallacy which most fear, but which most commit never the less. To my own disappointment, I have realised that neither I am excused for having carried out such an act as my most recent experiences have cemented this new knowledge in my mind.

For the past year there is a certain word which has brought much felicity to my days, a word which I have carefully introduced into every conversation where it rightfully could be mentioned. The word carried great importance to me and I would not lie to you if I say that I indeed were very much in love with speaking the word. To me it was a word of great symbolism and importance; it brought substance into a life so devoid of meaning and possibility for improvement that indolence took the place of motivation in a character once praised for its ambition.

For the past week this word of verbal sweetness—this word of my affections—has grown sour and it now leaves a bitter stain upon my tongue as I attempt to recover from the pains caused by a unforeseen blow to my view of self. To doubt doubt and to be convinced of convictions has proved poison to what was once so very dear to me. The word itself has not been altered—so it can in no way be blamed—but my perception of its sound—once so clear and bright!—has changed and it will never again be spoken by me with the smile of delight.

“How can such deep affections so suddenly be replaced with contempt and disregard?” I hear you ask, and indeed your curiosity shall be satisfied, for I have not authored this incoherent collection of words with the intent to keep you, my dear reader, in the dark. You shall see that the answer to your question—so rightfully asked—is to be found during study of the person affectionate; the object of love seldom to be blamed for a lover’s change of heart.

Cambridge has a noble ring to its name; it speaks of ambition and tradition to my ears; two sentiments which I value and celebrate, and I would have considered it an honour to be chosen to be part of its long history, but such a future was never to be mine. I no longer mention Cambridge when I speak, it has been confined to become a subject of my own reproach; the sweet word has turned bitter and harsh for it is no longer a symbol of opportunity, but one of personal failure and futures to never be known.

Soon I have for two decades been alive and am I fortunate a fifth of my life has already passed me by. One would consider the prime of my youth long gone, but its folly seems reluctant to bide me adieu; we have accompanied each other for too many years to ever be completely apart; were I not foolish in my convictions I would not be who I am; the question being whether a wiser me would be to prefer? Is doubt in conviction what I need to revive?

In retrospect even the most ambiguous of enigmas wear their answers on their sleeves; readily seen as well as read—why did I not consider to look while they were in my view? Alas! That is the way in which folly is defined; as blindness affecting one’s perception of the most obvious; folly being the symptom of complication, of shrouding and concealing what was left out in the open for everyone to see! This realisation is soon to be followed by revitalised reproach: Why was consideration never considered? Why did conviction appear so compelling, so very convincing? Why—oh, why?—was the unclouded clarity of certainty concealed to me?

Had I doubted more—and not been so very convinced—success might very well have been mine. Had I been less convinced—and had I been a person in doubt—my future might have been another! Had I not been as overly confident in myself as I were I would have doubted my abilities, knowledge and talents more. Had I doubted myself I would have questioned what I knew and been motivated to heal the flaws which most apparently were present in my person. Had I doubted and healed myself of conviction’s ignorance my premature honour and pride would perhaps then have been rightfully mine?

Indeed, I committed the fallacy which humanity seems unable to abandon; the inability to realise its own limits. Man is not an omnipotent creature; he does not have the ability to predict the future; all his attempts to do so will eventually be proven wrong. My mistake—I beg you to learn from mine and man’s mistakes—was that I reaped my harvest before my fields had been ploughed. I were so certain of my success that I celebrated it before celebrations were due and failure was all that I left for myself to find.

Perhaps my mother was right when she mused to me that life never takes the course which one expects or wishes it to follow, no matter how much I despised those her words. Had I been more attentive perhaps my fate would have been another; had I convinced my mind to contain a fair amount of doubt I might not have attempted to fly on wings premature. Though I am a fifth of a century old I have barely lived at all and experience cannot easily be considered mine. It is through my folly that I grow to become more than the sum of my parts, it is through the blows of disappointment that I learn the lessons of life.

For, indeed, my dear mother was right: life is fickle and its course is never set in stone. The faintest whisper is enough to steer it off course as life is nothing but a ship sailing in the dark. Wisdom of the past is the only light which serves as a guide, but in a world of unlimited possibilities one is at times all too easily lured to follow the sparkle of fool’s gold.

No longer may Cambridge be the intellectual port where I head, but however knowing that my folly and I are alone to blame I have been given an opportunity to learn from my mistakes—I have been given yet another valuable lesson by life—and I may be more of a person now than I were before sweet turned bitter in my mouth. This pain will no doubt leave a scar, but the initial sting has now faded and it will soon only throb during the darkest hours of my days.

I may never fully forgive myself for having allowed the opportunity of a lifetime to pass me by, but I have learnt that the wisest course of action is to be a fool and doubt one’s wisdom; as even the wisest also are fools.

Though the sun is shining outside and the weather is quite amiable, I feel as if my life is going no-where; that all I am really good for is to sit in front of the computer and do no-thing but stare into thin air, awaiting the arrival of something extraordinary.

Though, the extraordinary is so much more than the ordinary, and as my life is devoid of even the most mundane of ordinary events, I believe I will have to stare into nothingness for eternties before something extraordinary accidentally happens to stumble past my glazed vision.

I am anxious as I intend to apply to Cambridge University’s Archaeology and Anthropology-program this fall, in little more than a month, and I need to finish my application.

I have a certificate of Advanced English (though I in reality would have preferred a certificate of Proficiency in English, something my own inability kept me from attaining).

I also have grades far above what is required, something which at first surprised me and which I now appreciate as it is one thing less to be worried about.

The school/college reference I trust one of my high school teachers will be kind enough to complete for me, as they are most delightful people – all of them. <3 Yet another thing I do not have to feel anxious regarding, in other words.

…And then there is the personal statement, the most important part of any university application. Though I have laboured its creation for more than half a year (I believe it being) I have come nowhere.

Though I believe myself independent and carefree, I can not help at the same time being bit of a cultural chameleon/social sponge. I absorb and react to the environment I am in; a trait of mine I am not fully convinced is either good or bad.

However, this means that though I am Miss Josephine who is no-one but herself, I have also adapted to fit into Swedish society, something I always have feared doing.

As I outlined in my January 18th entry It Is Taboo To Believe, it is hard for a genuine Swede to believe themself valuable.

The effect of this – my inability to value my own accomplishments and to fully understand who I am – has created problems for me as far as the personal statement is concerned.

It is hard to outline one’s potential and accomplishments when one believes in them, but during a whole life has been taught that no one else does. Of course, my family has always supported me, but to not be looked down upon by society and subsequently enable one to succeed, one has to fit into one of the templates assigned to one.

So, in other words, it is hard to write a short essay about what one during a whole life has been taught is taboo to even speak of – one’s value, potential and future.

And so I sit here, wondering what I have accomplished. I have come to the conclusion that though my grades are good, they are not the best. Sufficient, but not amazing.

I wonder, how am I supposed to explain in my statement my reasons for studying a subject unrelated to the one I now wish to pursue? To write that I am stubborn is probably not the best as the University is looking for applicants with minds open to new ideas. But then, I ask myself, as I realised my original convictions wrong, can then not this be considered as an openness of mind?

I do not know.

How shall I explain my academic potential impeccable when I have gone through little to illustrate my value? In reality, having dropped out from a college of high standards, claiming the courses offered were at a level too low would be sufficent illustration of this – but that is in my own mind.

Is having dropped out from a college and spent half a year on a quest to once more find oneself proof of academic potential? Have I wasted six months of my life to no good? For, I could very well have done something different – accomplished something. But then, had I done that, I would still be looking for myself.

I am now about to study a full-time course in Archaeology at the University of Gotland. Being terrified of ever moving away from home – but at the same time having realised that my future lies far away from the lands of my birth – I study the subject on-line.

Doing so, though the course is offered full-time, means I will have a lot of time on my hands to spend in the pursuit of other accomplishments. What has be kept in mind here, however, is that Miss Josephine is a Swedish native (even if it is involountarily so) and thus unfamilar with the status surrounding accomplishments. In many ways, it is a dimension of life unknown to most Swedes.

So, there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind, the inner Miss Josephine who is anxious beyound comprehension about the prospect of probably not being good enough to ever fit into a fine British University, telling me to do something.

But, what to do?

I could very well apply to become a substitute teacher, but I have no experience whatsoever with previous work with children. Further, I have already been rejected once by the association, something I like to believe being because of my then prospective full-time nursing studies, though I in reality know it was because of my severely lacking skills when it comes to interaction with other human beings.

So, if that option is impossible, then there must be others.

I had an idea, one which appealed to me greatly, of studying two full-time courses this upcoming year: one in Archaeology at the University of Gotland and one in Japanese at the University of Stockholm. One on campus, one on-line. I could have passed both two courses with flying graces, be sure. I do not doubt my own potential, I only doubt people’s convictions in my own potential.

However, I happen to live in Sweden – which should be obvious this far into the argument – something which makes my life very complicated. I have stressed these points before, but what is one more time when it is my future I am speaking of?

In Sweden, there is no way a student may be allowed to take two full-time courses at two different universities. No way. Never. Whatsoever. And so, I had to choose. And I chose Archaeology because I want to study Archaeology and Anthropoogy at the University of Cambridge next year. I believe it will show the admissions committé that I am passionate about my prospective subject.

However, not being able to study Japanese means I still am without proof of further accomplishments.

I could of course take a part-time job, but as I lack academic training and because there is no such thing as anthropology in Sweden, that option is also exhausted, to not say impossible and unattainable. (For, what point is there to be employed at the local food-store when it is no accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement?)

Then, the creative Miss Josephine tells me: “Why do we not become artists?”

I could very well send my artwork to a few publishing companies for consideration. I believe myself somewhat talented, enough to land a position as a children’s book-illustrator. Perhaps. Mayhaps. Maybe.

But what is such an accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement when it must be completed in little more than a month? It is to no use, and is thus a future plan, not a current one.

I could of course continue writing my own children’s books and illustrate them, as well as continuing to go insane over my novels(s) and my short stories. I could of course continue to paint my stones, bead my necklaces, embroider my dolls, sew my plushies, write in my Moleskine, sketch in my notebooks – being creative.

I would like this very much. But it is nothing one can put in a personal statement. That I am an artist and an anthropologist at heart may be too ambiguous for the admissions committé to appreciate. And still, that is who I am.

The person I see myself as being in 20 years of time is exceedingly boring, and still the prospect of it makes my heart skip a beat.

In 20 years – or perhaps much sooner that that – I see myself the resident of a adorable cottage in a rural area, the surrounding fields mine to roam, the surrounding forests mine to explore, vthe elvet-black starry skies mine to marvel over.

In that future, I am married with children. I am a trained anthropologist and I hold a part-time position as a university lecturer as I also am a teacher at heart. When not elaborating complex therories regarding the origin of the human form, its evolution and its current situation – its thoughts, its psychology, its purpose – I will be a mother, a novelist and an illustrator.

Academic works and novels both flow from my hands and imaginationg, alongside with children’s stories and associated illustrations, not to forget the short stories and their moral messages.

It is a future I find delight in imagining, and still, I believe the qualities of mine which bring me such joy are those which will keep me from attaining the future of my dreams.

That I am an artistic anthropologist is not something to be proud over. Oh no. In this world one has to be specialised, interested in one area only. Passions may not be many, they shall be few.

But then, is there any room left for one’s own being to grow, as one’s true purpose in this world is to be both happy and realise all the quirks of one’s own person?

I believe not.

So, who is this elusive creature otherwise known as Miss Josephine? What is it she wishes to write on her personal statement and knows she may not?

Miss Josephine wishes to explain her potential through an elaboration os the following concepts:

  • That she possesses an open mind as she is able to realise original, foolish convictions wrong.
  • That she is a creative scientist, something she believes a pre-requisite for academic success – to possess both wits and imagination to propel scientific advances forward through.
  • That she sees herself as a teacher, her aim being the attainment of a doctorate degree.

These are all marvellous concepts, so why is Miss Josephine in doubt? She does not know herself, is the short answer to such a question…

(…but it may have something to do with that she just accidentally snapped her last beading needle in half, is running out of beads, and the supply store is located a 40-minute walk away from her current location as commuteer communications are scarce over that distance, and she can not leave home as she has been assigned to baby-sit her two youngest sisters who are reluctant when it comes to covering distances 40 minutes by foot.)

Ah well, all I have to do is to labour my personal statement for a month and a week longer before the long wait of anxious anxiety begins, being ended by devastating disappointment or by ambiguous appreciation.