Religion, transcendence, and the (Don’t-care-about-it) woman in me

It had been just a harsh few weeks. That’s what had started the argument, Jack knew, but it had gone nowhere. She didn’t even remember what, exactly, it was that her father had said, but it was something along the lines of ‘You’re too young, and therefore, I will decide for you.’

Yes, she was in high school. Yes, she was underage by legal standards. Yes, she was odd by all other standards, seeing a therapist, on medication, and still not ‘normal’ compared to other kids her age. But that didn’t mean she was as stupid and useless as she’d been when she was five, or ten, or even two years ago, in middle school.

She did know that there was more to the world than just her little hometown, and that her little town and the even more limited neighborhood and life she lived was very, very, VERY small and nothing like the rest of the world at large. She got that. She understood how lucky she was to have been born in America at all, let alone a more upper class, suburban family. She’d contemplated the meaning of life while washing her hair in her morning shower. She’d weighed the consequences of going to war in the Middle East while her classmates talked about last night’s American Idol. Her teachers knew she was more serious minded than her peers, her classmates regarded her as a retard because she acted like such an old person, even her own karking therapist admitted that she was more mature than most teenagers.

So, after a long few weeks of trying valiantly to think about her own philosophy and what it meant for her beliefs (And the progress Jack HAD made: Quite literally, this time last year, she’d still considered herself Christian and Republican for no other reason than because that’s what her parents were. In the last month alone, she’d stopped to think about her own values and beliefs and realized that it WASN’T what her parents believed, at all.) the end result had been attempting to come out to her parents.

Oh, how Jack had underestimated their ability to undercut her ideas. It wasn’t even out of real bigotry – they’d even started out the conversation with ‘You’re our kid and we love you’. It was the simple fact that they hadn’t done any real research or thinking, and considered their opinions valid when based on ‘facts’ that didn’t exist.

But that wasn’t the worst. Jack had been upset with them for it. She’d made it very clear that she was upset with them for it.

And the result was now sitting on the desk where she did her homework. Her father had come in, just the next day, with a bag of mini-Oreos.

“A peace offering.” And then, he’d walked away.

She’d been angry that they’d literally talked down to her about her values, and a bag of Oreos was a ‘peace offering’? It was about equivalent to trying to smooth over diplomatic negotiations with Afghanistan by offering a McDonald’s restaurant. It rankled Jack. It irritated her. It sent her anger from just ‘upset’ with her parent’s closed minds to outrage at their dismissive blindness.

But more infuriating, that they thought it would work. That her father had been so sure that she would accept it and come around to his point of view with just a bag of sweets – one that she could afford for herself, if she wanted it.

The person she was squirmed inside of her, like the outer shell of a stiff upper lip and repression was slowly growing thicker from the outside in, and crushing the real person. Even if she’d opened her mouth to shout at her father, there was a vice clamp on her throat that wouldn’t have let so much as a squeak out.

It was this that made Jack wish so desperately that she wasn’t Jack.

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‘Geezus, girl! Emo, much?’ Kendalina asked as Jack – whom was only that in name but had since moved on to her real name – finished typing.

“I dunno, it helped me in retrospective when I had to reevaluate my ideas about feminism and my training.” She explained. As a character inside Jack’s head, Kendalina knew this already, but was plainly having fun pestering Jack about it.

‘Issat why you’re posting this both to your Initiate’s Journal at the Jedi Temple AND your Feministing blog?’ She asked, ‘Don’t make much sense to me.’

“Bear with me – the lesson I learned from all of my fights with my dad wasn’t about a specific value, or that I was wrong or anything of the sort. It was how I was fighting back. Attempting to rebel by striking back did me just as much harm as it did good. In fact, it made things WORSE for me. And that’s the way it ALWAYS was and ALWAYS will be. To really, truly, completely free myself from any system, the key was to transcend it, not fight.”

‘Oh, right – because it’s JUST that easy for EVERYONE.’ Sissy sneered. In response, Kendalina gave the obnoxious teenager a good whap upside the head.

“It’s SIMPLE, Sissy. Simple and easy are not the same things. And it does cover a lot.” Jack lifted a hand and started ticking off examples, “When you live outside the system, entirely, it becomes meaningless. Living outside of sexism means that nobody can use the fat/ugly/slut card against me. I go where I want, do what I want, wear what I want, and say what I want. I’m free from shame and fear, and all of the burdens that come with it. And when you act with utter impunity for cultural norms like subservience or submission in women, it projects an aura of impermeability. I’ve had teachers or supervisors at work tell me that other people are uncomfortable around me, but are afraid to say anything that might offend me, and even those teachers or supervisors feel uncomfortable telling me that. See? Nobody wants to kriff with someone who is unafraid or unashamed. And a lot of negative cultural norms depend on women being afraid or ashamed, which then perpetuates the REST of the sexism in the world.”

‘Not to mention it gives you freedom to help others – whom, as you’ve been emphasizing in your last few lessons, are just other parts of you and you are just parts of them.’ Haid agreed, tightening the strings on her harp. As a character based on a very Hindu/Buddhist faith, Haid was certainly the best one to say it, ‘To take your lack of upholding feminine grooming standards for example, what does shaving bodily hair or applying makeup do as good for anyone? It doesn’t affect your character as a person. It doesn’t give you insight into the ways of the world, nor allow you a higher plane of moral insight. Failing to maintain beauty standards doesn’t rot your soul, nor make you less intelligent or insightful or attuned to the Force.’ She strummed a few notes on her harp, then tuned it a bit more, ‘Meanwhile, not spending money on any of it gives you more financial freedom to send aid to causes like countries that have no clean drinking water, or no schools for their girls, or refugees whom were forced from their homes because of wars or political changes. And that, in turn, brings all of us closer to being better as a people.’

“Jack, who are you talking to?” Her characters disappeared as Jack’s mother poked her head through the door. Third Christmas since the divorce, and while Jack still didn’t see the same views as her mother, that wasn’t enough to make Jack not love her.

“Nobody, mom.” She replied, eyes still fixed on the screen. She ended her post with:

Happy Holidays to all, and May the Force be with you.

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