In my previous post, I explained how I used to feel visceral repulsion towards the strategy behind social relations that is game theory. Yet I still need and must rely on myself to navigate this world: I need to develop a healthy relationship to my emotions so that I may know how to react to them. The same problem applies to each person.
The marketing mantra “Trust yourself” sounds promising, easy, and individualistic. It can’t work for women, unless we want people to settle in what they wear taught to do and how they were taught to react. On the other hand, each person has desires and feelings, and they are the ones who must make decisions for themselves in the community if they are autonomous.
The situation is ambiguous: we are taught harmful or ineffective ways, yet can only rely on our imperfect selves to move forward. I do not have definite answer, but if game theory and science have taught me something, it is that we need to be acutely aware of our limitations so that we may take them into account, and weigh our goals in their light. When changing a behavior, we will eventually relapse. When facing a challenge, we will likely procrastinate, sabotage ourselves or avoid the situation. If we renounce to that knowledge, placing absolute faith in ourselves and others, we are bound to build unrealistic models and to see women’s actions as bound to fail.
We need to find ways to balance self-care, the immediate actions to soothe our feelings, with long-term care that includes strategic decisions, organisation and collaboration. While I see that discussions among women center almost exclusively on immediate personal care, long-term efforts are kept silent. We encourage women to spend “me-time” with nail polish and chocolate, we celebrate the victory of a female athlete, the discovery of a scientist. But we keep silent the years of work, sacrifices, planning and efforts that went into achieving that gold medal or that Nature publication. And when it comes to unknown women, we can’t go beyond recognizing the merits of the women who raised us.
We limit ourselves to a handful of works women can publicly do and be recognized for: child bearing, music, acting, modeling, public celebrity. A few women achieve a special status based on their contribution to the world (Marie Curie or Simone de Beauvoir). But for the rest of us, our work is at best part of our private domestic life, at worse a way in which we actively harm the domestic space we should be nurturing.
Image. F. Scaramella