My younger daughter collided with a basketball in practice the other day and returned home with a swollen lip. Her older sister, a tiger by nature, immediately asked if she should provide restitution. (It was an accident.)
Today, in her high school guidance counselor’s office, my teenager is all long legs, a combination of gawky and ravishing in her black parka and dark eyes. Like sparks, she emanates loyalty, desire, heartache, anger, joy. Yes, all this.
I’m reading the new biography of Emma Jung, and I can’t help but wince that this talented woman, like so many others, was under the “vaulting ambition” of her famous husband. As a society, we haven’t made it all that far from those days. How much I want for both my daughters not to bend under their future partners’ ambitions, and to expect with impunity equality in parenting and in creative fulfillment, to know that before we can demand justice anywhere else on the planet, our own relationships must at least be threaded with decency.
My fierce tiger, my mighty one.
If only we lived in a culture that made ambition compatible with motherhood and family life, that presented models of women who were integrated and whole: strong, sexual, ambitious, cued into their own varied appetites and demands, and equipped with the freedom and resources to explore all of them. If only women felt less isolated in their frustration and fatigue, less torn between competing hungers, less compelled to keep nine balls in the air at once, and less prone to blame themselves when those balls come crashing to the floor. If only we exercised our own power, which is considerable but woefully underused; if only we defined desire on our own terms.
– Carolien Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want (Put this book on the required reading list.)