My husband told me over the weekend that he believes I have aged the most in the last two years than I have since we have been together. This comment, which came out of left field, occurred subsequently after I finished reading Grealy and Steven’s essays. I felt an instance of shock at first. I was not sure if I should be raging, take offense, or feel like I have achieved something. So, I asked him in what ways did he mean that I have aged: physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally? He gave me a quick glance of stupidity as he muttered the words, “well duh, you have aged physically.” At that moment, he could sense my aggravation through the lack of my emotional filters and proceeded straight to addressing my other concerns. He said, “You know you have grown wiser. But, you have also grown more compassionate for others through your patience and understanding.” I was very moved by these words. For the first time, in a long time, my husband expressed how he came to see me in a different way through our own co-constructed story.
Davis (2003) discussed how our historical and cultural accounts inform the ways in which we come to understand the self. Obviously, my example arises more so from the social inclusion end of the spectrum. However, we often create our own images from the ways others in our life describe us. But we also come to understand who we are by the negation of what our culture says we are supposed to be. I cannot divorce myself from my own historical and cultural surroundings—but only try to make sense of the many ways I can come to see myself. Therefore, I am not sure I can agree conclusively to Grealy’s (1994) statement that “Society is no help; the images it gives us again and again want us only to believe that we can most be ourselves by looking like someone else, leaving our own faces behind to turn into ghosts that will inevitably resent us and haunt us” (p. 73). I believe that deconstructing the grand narratives that society puts out there may allow us to see ourselves differently.
Furthermore, I do not believe these ideas are at odds with Young, however, I feel at times we fail to explore the intersection of where social structure informs our own subjectivity and vice versa. These can be the most powerful and empowering ways for transformative change. For instance, I agree with Davis (2003) that “Our inability to sympathize, our lack of concern, or our numbness toward any individual or group embarking on the ‘surgical fix’ may be equally worthy of our critical attention” (p. 87). So, I ask what occurs during this time of sympathizing? Do we allow others to tell their story or to tell our story? What is our moral responsibility to attending to these stories? What are the political implications of these stories?
Young discusses in more detail how stories can function in different ways through framing, form, and the narrator’s point of view. In what ways (affirming or disconfirming), are we allowing others to tell our story for us?
Are we taking back our narratives?
Feminist Frequency and the Bechdel test