The independent woman today is torn between her career interests and her sexual concerns. It is difficult for her to find the balance. If she is to achieve it, it will be at the expense of compromises, sacrifices, and acrobatics. This requires her to be in the A constant state of tension. Here, and not far from biological grounds, the causes of the nervousness and fragility so often observed in women should be sought. It is difficult to determine to what extent a woman’s anatomy appears to be a disadvantage in her.
For example, people often wonder what disturbances menstruation produces. Women who become famous through events or actions don’t seem to take it seriously: could their success be attributed to a low level of monthly discomfort? One can wonder if, on the contrary, choosing an active, ambitious life gives them this gift, because a woman’s attention to her discomfort exacerbates it: the female athlete, the woman of action, does not suffer as much as other women , because they don’t mind their pain. There are organic reasons, of course, and I’ve seen some strong women put up with relentless torture in bed twenty-four hours a month, but their careers have never been hindered by it.
I am convinced that most of the discomforts and ailments that befall women have spiritual causes: so the gynecologists tell me. Just because of what I mean by mental tension, because of the various tasks that women undertake, because of the contradictions in which they struggle, they are constantly fatigued and exhausted: this does not mean that their ailments are imaginary, Illness, like the situation it reflects, is real and intense. But the situation does not depend on the body, the body depends on the situation. Thus, when a working woman has her rightful place in society, her health does not impair her work: on the contrary, it greatly contributes to her physiological balance and keeps her from focusing solely on her body.
A woman cannot make people feel safe, she pretends to be arrogant, she exaggerates, she overdoes it. In affairs and management, she is meticulous, critical, and aggressive. Just like in learning, she lacks calmness, boldness and courage. In order to be successful, she becomes restrained. Her actions are a series of challenges and abstract affirmations of herself. This is the greatest evil of lack of self-confidence: the subject cannot forget himself. This subject cannot boldly run towards a goal, but strive to make the value performance required by others.
In boldly aiming for goals, there is danger of setbacks, but unexpected results can be achieved, and caution can lead to mediocrity. Interest in adventure, unconsequential experience, and merciless curiosity are seldom encountered in woman: she seeks to “make a career” as others seek to build happiness for herself: she is dominated and besieged by the masculine world , has no guts to smash the ceiling, cannot throw herself into the project with enthusiasm: she still sees her life as an internal enterprise: she points not to a goal, but to the success of the subject through the object.
From the day a woman admits to getting older, her situation changes. To this day, she is still a young woman struggling against a misfortune that mysteriously disfigures and deforms her: she becomes a genderless, but different being that reaches a stage of completion: an elderly woman. It can be considered that her menopausal crisis has passed by this time. But one should not conclude that her life will be easier in the future.
When she gives up fighting the doom of time, another battle begins: she must keep her place among men. It is in her autumn and winter that woman breaks free from her chains: she uses her age as an excuse to escape the drudgery that weighs upon her: she knows her husband too well to be intimidated by him, she avoids his embraces, Around him—in a friendly, indifferent, or hostile manner—arranges his own life: if he ages faster than her, she takes the leadership of the couple into her own hands. She can also disregard fashion and public opinion, she is freed from the obligations of high society, from diet and beauty care.
As for her children, they had grown out of need of her, married and left home. Freed from her obligations, she finally found her freedom. Unfortunately, in every woman’s history, the fact that we have seen in the history of women is repeated: women always find this freedom when there is nothing else to do. This repetition is not accidental: patriarchal society gives all women’s functions the appearance of servitude, and women are only released from this servitude when they lose all validity.
At nearly fifty she took full possession of her powers and felt experienced: it was near this age that men reached their highest positions, their most important positions, and as for her, she was already retiring. She had only been told to be loyal, and now nobody asked her to be loyal. Unused, unable to justify her own need for survival, she looks forward to the hopeless long years of the rest of her life and murmurs, “Nobody needs me anymore!”