My Name is Ellen Webb, I’m a student of 18 years old currently studying for my A levels in English Language, Literature, Sociology and Psychology. I am hoping to either study History of Art or English Literature at University. I have a real passion for writing and hope to peruse this later in my life. I currently write stories with a hidden moral meaning such as feminist ideologies and issues surrounding universal injustice such as racial, social and gender discrimination. I feel this is a great way to get others to understand problems from different perspectives. I also hope in 2017 to travel to learn about and explore different cultures which will widen my view of the world. I do work experience at a local foyer working with young disadvantaged individuals who have suffered from either homelessness or tragic family issues. My writing is inspired by what I have learned and I hope my piece shows this.
“She is”, as I have learned, cannot be a rigid statement.
I do not come without a little case of ‘pot calling the kettle black’. As a middle class student I have admittedly designated myself to just that–a privileged middle class student. It’s as though my world is a shielded, pretty, delicate paradise cushioned with luxuries; an education, a support system, and fortune with a yellow brick road leading to my destination. If I fall there’s someone to catch me, my parents, peers and teachers encourage and support me. Growing up in an isolated, rural town being pampered with niceties has made me ignorant, complacent and ungrateful at times.
The world is diverse beyond my ‘safe haven’. ‘My world’ in fact is a mere speck. My education through my own ignorance has only been to get to university, absent from any passion about what I learn. My support has replaced my own backbone and my fortune has made me blind. It’s not that myself and others have no compassion for hardship, we cry at tragedy but we wipe the tears away and engulf ourselves in our happy place, shutting the door on the draft seeping in to our warm shelters from the big bad world. If we are not dangerous we are not endangered. If we do not open our dolly eyes we are not scorned.
I used to feel a sense of superiority to loud, opinionated women because I had no need to shout; my life was tranquil. Thankfully this opinion was obliterated when I mistakenly picked up a feminist book. Admittedly I thought it was a clichéd flowery story; something apt and in keeping with my preferences. When reading it I didn’t feel angry or shocked but cheated. Cheated of realisation about injustice, immorality and flaws. Cheated of my own potential beyond my assigned position. Cheated by the assumption “She is’” cannot have conjunctions like ‘ands’. Thinking I had one route and no one else’s really mattered.
Getting A*s by learning academia off by heart is no longer the pinnacle, but learning openly is. A dangerous woman sees the ugly, grotesque and turmoil but then through this she can see the true meaning of morality, justice, love and acceptance. Being in a singular place does not mean you have to be absorbed in it. Looking deeper in to others lives makes us more empathetic and wise. People in poverty, with ill mental health, suffering from social and racial injustice speaking out are dangerous because they challenge the immoral. Dangerous women defy being a rigid label; they want more. Since opening my mind to injustice, it becomes more real, feeding my passion to write about it. “She is” is about all the elements that make up a dangerous woman. It’s not always innate but learned, gathered and practiced. “She is’” what makes up every woman. Sometimes it’s undiscovered but it’s always there, even if deeply buried within us. And it’s not always what we presume dangerous to be. But it’s always awakening and inspiring.
She is vulnerable.
The epitome of a ‘dangerous women’ is not a heroine or a ‘wrecking ball’. She is not invincible, supernatural, invulnerable, unblemished or flawless. She is bruised, judged, neurotic, selfish, desolate, lonesome and turmoiled. She can be wretched, ruthless, unaffectionate and inconsiderate. She is icy but burns with passion. She is fearful beyond death but wholesome beyond life. The concept that a ‘dangerous woman’ has to be brutal and cold to be heard in a ‘man’s world’ is wrong. The unspoken expectation that men should be ‘macho’, courageous and ‘above emotion’ is wrong. Dangerous women having to conform to the ‘apparent’ view of the male persona to share their importance is wrong. Dangerous men can be powerless, sensitive and out of control. Dangerous women can be powerless, sensitive and out of control. If men are not always in control, women do not need to be controlled. A dangerous woman does not want to be ‘macho’; it brings no good to her or to him. A dangerous woman is a woman who can open her hand to possibility, giving and taking from the world. She can also close her fist–grasping adventure, seizing opportunity, practicing her privacy and choice.
She is someone with expectations.
A dangerous woman expects equality. She does not expect to be paid differently to her male counterparts. If she expects it she is wallowing in gender inequality. If she expects it she is not thinking forward, she is corrupting her vision. She is not naïve to inequality; it devastates her. She is passionately outraged by it. But she will not sit in devastation; she moves towards morality.
No country in the world has complete gender equality. Our world is as dynamic as it’s ever been, possibility is relentless and yet inequality prospers. No women should be content because equality is better than a previous time.
A dangerous woman does not see the present as idyllic, because her view is pretty. She is futuristic. She defies the present if it limits her and others. She hates all prejudice. She cannot believe in equality if she doesn’t support women and men from all class, race, religion and ethnicity. What she gains as a Woman is a mere gesture if the act is not offered to the entire Woman kind. She is dangerous with her vivid, intangible images of what’s right and moral. She sees a time of justice; she sees a righteous time.
The inspirational, free spirited author Kate Chopin oozed this quality. In her novel ‘The Awakening’, Edna Pontellier–a wife and mother who is discontented with the conventional, domestic role enforced upon her by society’s expectation–challenges the idea of a dutiful Victorian woman when she has a sexual awakening, leading to a rush of independence and creativity. She grows in ‘individuality’ when freed from suppression and male domination and enforced motherhood but it ends in the devastation of her death; she cannot be a free woman in that time. The hints of tragedy at her inability to be liberated is an awakening within itself. Chopin was dangerous–her writing was frowned upon, it was dismissed. She was dangerous because she was a threat. She was change in the face of advertency, a risk taker, a marvel to human kind. She was modern and forward minded.
She is undefinable.
Unfortunately, the demeaning ‘slag, whore and slut’ label is associated with women over men. A ‘player’ or ‘lad’ has a more positive connotation promoting a ‘laddish’ culture maintained by males, treasuring a sense of ‘achievement’ despite describing the same sexual activity. Gendered language defines a person due to their sex. A dangerous woman does not wallow in the hardship of trying to be a sweet apple on the tree of conventional woman hood (being ‘ladylike’ and submissive) looking at those who have failed below, bruised and wounded in the meadow of gender let downs. No, she would rather fall out of choice. She won’t live up to such archaic, restrictive stupidity. She is hurt by the mistreatment and cruel labels but she will not be broken by it. Stopping her assertion and confidence in fear of being called ‘bossy’ and stopping doing sport in fear of being called ‘muscly’ is upsetting. People have spoken out to ban the word ‘bossy’ as it is degrading to girls. Surely banning makes it powerful and sacred. A dangerous woman is like a dictionary, redefining words to suit. If bossy means she is independent and expressive, then she will be her version. She has power and influence and uses it.
She is dangerous.
She no longer sees her equality as a privilege but as a right. With this she battles forward, sometimes petrified, sometimes not. She is a woman for the people, not a ‘man hater’. She is not reconciled to a life only of domesticity. She is physically, mentally, academically, artistically excellent. She can say no and yes. Mostly she is dangerous. Why? Because she knows all of this.