Looking for love in all the wrong places
Femme fatale …
… is one of those labels assigned to me a long time ago. Recently, I was dismayed when I was called that again. For awhile I was silent and then I even tried to defend myself. But soon gave it up. I have spent so much of my life trying to disprove theories, myths and labels that I was given. Femme fatale is just one of them. Lately, for reasons I will not go into here, the phrase repeats itself in my mind. A sure sign that I need to explore this more in depth, and uncover what it means for me.
Since I was a young woman starting to realize my sexuality, I was needy for acknowledgment and validation, and would gratefully go with anyone who would have me, always incredulous that any one could love someone like me. Writing these words renders me immediately vulnerable. What exposure! It would be better for my self image if only I had considered myself a femme fatale. At least it would mean I thought of myself as sexy and dangerous, not pathetic. Marrying a number of times does not mean that I was attractive to men. It meant that I was looking for love in all the wrong places.
It is also interesting for me to reflect that the same people who assigned me that label, also taught me that a woman’s self worth is through her sex appeal. It was such a relief for me to break down those myths and re-socialize myself as a woman, even though it took me until I was well into my forties to understand all that. Indeed, I still struggle with those notions, especially as I age and fear becoming invisible. I have to admit that it was exhausting always trying to be sexually acceptable, for I have never been thin or blond or any of those stereotypes that go with what the dominant culture thinks of as attractive.
And so, I must conclude that people who labeled me femme fatale, must have been insecure about their own sexuality. How could they not be in our cut throat Patriarchal system? Indeed, it had nothing to do with who I am or how I perceive myself. Women are our own worst enemies. If only we would stop wasting time calling each other names and competing for the men in our lives. If only we would, rather, band together interdependently with those men out there. Then, perhaps, we could change all these notions and myths about self-worth and attractiveness, develop our sensuality without shame, and love one another right now.
The only regret that I have is realizing all this at age 58. It is almost as if all that time has been wasted on senseless misery and pain. I hope it is not too late to enjoy my sensuality and sexual worth, without binding my mind to ancient, meaningless labels, even as I enter the gates to the senior realm.