the problem of the ‘wounded woman’

Crispin---Sala-webJessa Crispin at Boston Review:

The world is not a safe place. It harms us, jostles us, exposes us to burns and pricks. So we tell ourselves and each other stories to help us understand the what and the why. If we didn’t we would all be like Melzack’s dogs, unsure who is hurting us or what is to be done about it.

But it is easy to misdiagnose the source of the problem, and once you do, the proper treatment will also elude you. Universalizing our pain challenges the culture to protect us, but it diminishes our individual responsibility. These stories gain traction because they validate what we feel—vulnerable and tossed around—and give us simplistic reasons for why we feel this way. If we claim vulnerability is our natural state, there is nothing we need to change. The world needs to change for us.

Insisting we are distinct from men in our woundedness is an easy and soothing story. Men are the enemy who can redeem themselves by turning their nature to our benefit, by protecting us. But in the end we are estranged from our humanity. Here we are not participants in society; we are merely at the mercy of it.

more here.