Friday, 10 May 2013

Greedy with Wants & Reckless from Hope

"There is nothing I can do," Jasmine says at the end of Mukerjee's novel, Jasmine
Time will tell if I am a tornado, rubble-maker, arising from nowhere and disappearing into a cloud. I am out the door and in the potholed and rutted driveway, scrambling ahead of Taylor, greedy with wants and reckless from hope (241). 
At the end of The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf recommends being greedy, too: 
How to begin? Let's be shameless. Be greedy. Pursue pleasure. Avoid pain. Wear and touch and eat and drink what we feel like. Seek out the sex we want and fight fiercely against the sex we do not want. Choose our own causes. And once we break through and change the rules so our sense of our own beauty cannot be shaken, sing that beauty and dress it up and flaunt it and revel in it: In a sensual politics female is beautiful (291). 
Eve Ensler, too, calls us to a celebration, a feast, a revelry. From one of her interviews near the end of The Vagina Monologues, she writes: 
To love women, to love our vaginas, to know them and touch them and be familiar with who we are and what we need. To satisfy ourselves, to teach our lovers to satisfy us, to be present in our vaginas, to speak of them out loud, to speak of their hunger and pain and loneliness and humor, to make them visible so they cannot be ravaged in the dark without great consequence, so that our center, our point, our motor, our dream, is no longer detached, mutilated, numb, broken, invisible, or ashamed (118). 
There is something going on here. These writers all describe a woman-loving world--a safe, whole, celebratory, nurturing, vibrant place for women (and men) to thrive and be strong. Is it "greedy" to want these things: freedom (political and otherwise), safety (in our bodies, in our communities), agency? 

Maybe hearing Jasmine and other women talking about choosing themselves, their own wants and needs, makes us uncomfortable because it is so strongly normalized for women to submit themselves to the needs and wants of others. Women's literature, in many places and in many ways, challenges that norm, calling for the kind of world in which a woman or a man can be free, own her or his body, and make her or his choices.

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