Nothing is stupid!
This is a passionate statement from my younger daughter, who will be soon five years old.
One day the girls stayed home with their nanny while I was working, in June. They were listening a song on youtube and the babysitter expressed her opinion, that the lyrics of this song are stupid. My daughter replied with a passion – nothing is stupid! People are not stupid, food is not stupid, clothes are not stupid, toilet is not stupid… she continued with a long list of examples, concluding that NOTHING is stupid!
I believe that this little girl is despite her young age much more mature in her way of thinking, that so many adults. She embraces the world in all its colourfulness. We, adults, could learn a lot from that. Instead of holding on to norms that are so subjective and condemning everything that is out of our box of normality.
What is normal?
I think most of us agree that this is a very difficult question that has many possible answers that depend on our background. Our race, sex, nationality, family history, upbringing and so much more. But besides our personal standards on “normal”, there are certain standards in the society that are considered “normal”. And most of us do our best to follow those norms, whether these really support our well-being, or not.
A huge part of the world follows the pattern that normality means white-ish skin, fairly good education, middle-class lifestyle, striving for success which is defined by more money, monogamous heterosexuality, getting married, having 1-3 kids and dedicating your life to the family (for women) or work (for men).
Some of those things we are either born with, or not. Your race, the colour of your skin, hair and eyes will determine, whether you are normal, or not. And you can do nothing about it. It varies a bit in different parts of the world but the cold hard truth is that in most “first-world” countries you have to be white, to be considered normal and safe.
Supermodel Cameron Russell made a very bold and inspiring TED talk in the beginning of 2013 saying out loud that she has won the genetic lottery. How many people are not that lucky?
Living here I have also realized, that I have won the lottery with where I was born. With my skin colour and blue eyes I am considered a beauty here. I have got a good education (without paying for it and starting my adult life in debt), I come from a background that supports women to be free, independent and ambitious beyond being a housewife. I am not bound by religious beliefs so I am free to search for my own spirituality. I don’t have to look far to see women who are not half as lucky. They live their life being enslaved by deeply religious and patriarchal society. And a lot of them don’t even know that there is a different way of living.
There is a young woman in her early twenties, working at a fast-food place in our village. She comes from Albania. She is already married and has two kids aged 3 and 1,5. She works on two jobs, getting maximum 4hrs of sleep every night. Her husband, who also works on two different jobs, uses her as a stress relief, whenever he feels like f**king her. Every time a woman “gives in” to her man’s desire without being in the mood for sex herself, is literally letting herself being raped. And this is normal. Because she is his wife and the mother of her children. They both think it is normal. This is the way they have been raised. The woman’s job is to be a good housewife, a good cook and a cleaner but also provide for the family by working and be available for her husband’s physical needs whenever. The woman’s worth is measured by her ability to cook and clean. She is her husband’s property, given from her father to her husband in the marriage ceremony.
We think that times are changing and so are social constructs that do not serve us anymore. But really… are they? We are not so much further from 19th century!
I recently read an inspiring piece on Elephant Journal about 5 reasons not to get married. The author Krystal Baugher points out how outdated are the marriage rituals in today’s society. Passing on the girl’s hand from father to the husband as a piece of property – a ritual that is saturated with inequality and starts off the marriage unbalanced. Keeping alive the myth that our sexuality is “normal” only in marriage. She points out the hollow heterosexual normativity “the practice of encouraging people to fit within heterosexual strict standards of being monogamous, married, usually protestant/Christian, usually white, usually middle/upper class while shunning and making feel guilty those who do not.” Being a heterosexual white girl, I find this normativity absolutely “normal”. But I also find other versions of life and love very normal! I agree with Krystal that “I think the world would be a much more beautiful place if we were all more accepting and open to other ways of love.”
I never regret that I married and that I divorced. I am grateful for those years that I spent with the father of my children. And I am also grateful that I come from a society where divorce is allowed and part of the “normal”. Because I don’t believe in “forever” and big white fluffy princess dresses do not give us a guarantee of “in sickness and health, in good and bad”. Women dress up as princesses, hoping that in his eyes they will be queens for the rest of their life. While a lucky few will really be queens, the rest of them will spend their life being third or fourth in line for the throne after work, hobbies, friends or even other princesses. Why give up your position in life – a true queen does not need a king to rule! But with a good king next to her, she may be happier.
People change and grow and unfortunately the partners more then often do that in different directions and different pace. A relationship that was perfect for many years, may start to suffocate and hold back both partners. What is the “normal” solution? Searching for ways to get back on the same path and pace is great. If that succeeds, it bonds people together more than before. But some people don’t succeed in that. And keeping them together with a piece of paper, condemning relatives and society rules is just torture.
In China, there is a tribe that is called the last matriarchy of the world. Women there do not marry and their lovers are not determined by anybody else, but themselves. And many of them have long and happy relationships that last decades. They don’t have to give each other promises of forever. But they may be happier that most married people in the Western world. Sometimes we hear and see the best “norms” from people who are considered primitive – native tribes or our own children.
Nothing is stupid! Marriage is not stupid, being single or in a free relationship is not stupid, being gay is not stupid, being from a different race or culture is not stupid! What matters is that we do no harm.