Being care-free in the face of comfort coves
More of us, than would openly admit, find comfort in burrowing deep into parochial belief systems: comfort coves of the mind, that form illusionary barriers between us and judgement. (These coves are not formed consciously by the individual, but by society, religion and tradition.)
And this is unsurprising. Humans are social creatures, and so it is natural for us to want to be accepted. It feels comfortable to 'fit in'. To give into expectation about how we should be acting, or what we should be doing. To simply laugh when someone makes an off-the-cuff, insensitive joke.
However this desire for comfort means that complex decisions end up being reduced to snap calculations rooted in a desire to fit in. When faced with modes of being that don’t neatly fit the accepted world-view, this desire breeds discomfort at best, intolerance and moral superiority at worst.
As such, I always try to be care-free in the face of comfort coves. To care a little bit less about being approved of.
I’d like to use a few scenario’s that involve a woman opting away from a pre-approved path, to highlight this notion.
(Excuse the hyper-bole that ensues. My stance on individuals who live their lives peering through pin-sized holes that they've poked in their little stinky coves, is pretty apparent)
Scenario 1: Stepping out from under the 'what women can and can't do' cove.
How would a woman who freely discusses the importance of her sexuality, outside of pleasing her partner in a monogamous-committed relationship, fare?
Such a woman would probably encounter a faux acceptance that simultaneously argues “Women can do what they want'“ alongside “But not my friend/sister/mother/girlfriend”.
The hot-or-cold sexual attitudes that exist in society also won’t help such an endeavour. It’s either ‘Don’t do it until united under God, it’s dirty’ (a decision that is thus perceived to hold the same gravitas as jumping off a cliff), or ’Go wild, it’s not that deep’’ (a decision thus as significant as eating a kit kat, pun intended). Both of these ensure that there is very little space for a woman who values it more than eating a chocolate treat, but not to the extent whereby archaic prescriptions give rise to feelings of guilt/shame, or a perception of sex that handicaps how comfortable we feel seducing (as oppose to remaining dormant/coy and being seduced).
Scenario 2: stepping out from under the 'what women can and can't do' cove V2.
What of a woman who truly synthesises how ‘equality’ should play out in a relationship, and thus doesn’t hold a man to unrealistic expectations about how he ranks in the ‘masculinity-and-security-championships’?
The standard races that men are often involuntarily entered include, but are not limited to:
- Having a ‘proper’ education, and a ‘proper job’ that pays enough for him to own (god forbid, rent) a house and a car, by the age of 5,
- Being assertive but not too assertive,
- Having arms the size of your head,
- Being an ethnicity that is palatable to your parents,
- And finally, despite you holding him to these rigid standards, he need respect you as an independent woman and not hold you accountable to the role for chef-cleaner-baby-incubator.
The sensibilities of such a woman will likely be launched full-speed into a blender, resulting in her feeling commensurately crazy. Especially after those who exist within the comfort coves that she ‘should’, sternly inform her that by opting out of the above championships, she clearly doesn’t value herself as a woman, and will end up marrying a bum.
I highlight these instances of collective intolerance humorously, but also very seriously, from both a human perspective, and a specifically female one. I highlight my being a woman, because ‘care-free black girl’ is a dominant cultural narrative at the moment, driven by everyone from Solange, and SZA, to the Slumflower. And despite these wonderful girl-gang aesthetics, women are still residing within, and in some cases defending, these parochial comfort coves, and there is nothing ‘care-free’ about that.
The alternative? We can tolerate the temporary discomfort that comes with learning and growing. Question things, and consider living your lives outside of a reality that wasn't chosen by you, but rather was chosen by tradition, society, religion, your friends, and your parents. And be honest about it. Don't hit me with a It's-cool-with-me-but-not-in-my-house mentality, whilst your expression is dripping with disdain and derision.