Monday, August 23, 2010

R E S P E C T,

I've been reading the blog of a dear friend who suggests that sometimes you need anger to re-affirm your self-respect. This idea makes me a little sad, because I think it has something to do with the sickness in our construction of masculinity. . . but I don't think he's wrong.

Thinking about it, I realized that I haven't had a lot of trouble respecting myself in my life, though I have had a lot of trouble liking myself, and often assume everybody else will too. I used to sacrifice a lot of things for my self respect. I believed adult human-beings (including myself) were basically undeserving, and I did my utmost to behave accordingly. Now that I'm some months in to my self indulgent/taking-care-of-myself phase, I've been giving some thought to what self-respect is going to look like for me, in the future.

I still believe that self-respect is basically about integrity*--about living in accordance to that which you most deeply believe, and not being ashamed of it. And I still believe that others will inevitably respond to self-respect by returning it. It can be terrifying to believe in the value of every human life. It's an enormous demand, because so many of us are treated so poorly, so much of the time. . . but an interesting challenge to contemplate.

*a word that gives me the creeps a bit, I think because I saw it misused so much for religious propaganda in young women's. Pooh.


___________________________ said...

Maybe you should work on developing the integrity to use the word integrity with the highest degree of integrity in your usage.

misssrobin said...

I think self-respect is a tricky thing. At least it has been for me.

I had someone once tell me that there are two parts to self-esteem (a different term, but similar). She said it's about how capable you think you are combined with how lovable you think you are.

I grew up believing I was capable of anything. But I didn't really feel lovable. Her explanation finally helped me realize what I was missing in the equation.

And I love the title of your blog.

Day said...

Thank you! :)

I think that definition of self-esteem probably originates with Nathaniel Branden. He was insightful and interesting for sure, but personally I also find him incredibly frustrating. Here's how he put it: "Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. . .It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment—happiness—are right and natural for us."

Based on the way our culture is put together, I suspect that "loveable" is often another way of saying you deserve success, fulfillment, and happiness--a way of saying it which would occur much more immediately to women, who are socialized heavily to place our happiness in our relationships.