Captivating

It’s Saturday night. I am sitting here with tissues plugging my red runny nose, electric blanket on, boys in front of a movie, husband out making an appearance at the 50th birthday party we were supposed to go to, weeping over a stupid (read awesome) book, cup of tea on the bedside table and a copy of ‘Psychology Today’ next on my list of reading fodder. I am a captivating sight. I know.

I have managed through the day of sausage sizzles and birthday present purchases, taxi driving and supermarket trips and hit a wall at about 4pm. Thus hopped into bed, and cuddled up with said of cup of tea and book. ‘Encouraged’ husband to take 7 year old boys to mini golf, second favourite activity next to ten-pin bowling, only to have them return, one in tears, as it was closed. For goodness sake, it’s Labour Weekend. Bless their hearts; they let me doze for about an hour while they watched a movie together and made dinner.

Hubby has since skulked off, dateless, as the sober driver for other party goers. In times past, I would have hauled myself out of bed and struggled through the evening but he’s a big boy now and I am sure he can cope with his own friends and colleagues.

I chose the word captivating above on purpose. The book I am reading, entitled Captivating is currently exploring the essential questions of women. There is a men’s version called Wild at Heart. Captivating argues that the question each girl and woman has in her heart, is “Am I lovely? Do you see me? Do you want to see me? Are you captivated by what you find in me?”

Empowered by three and a half decades of sound feminist theory, I am frustrated and would really like to argue vehemently against this notion that girls and women need to feel this way but I can’t, something resonates so deeply in me that I feel that my reason is on shaky ground and may be undermining me.

Many years ago I was quite taken by an American sci-fi drama called Roswell. It's dubious plot about aliens living amongst us and their lives at an out of the way secondary school, was full of emotional teenage angst and, hey, I enjoyed it. The intense studious human looking alien boy was completely infatuated with his best friend, a human girl, who like all teenage girls was generally questioning who she was for one thing and completely unaware of the affection of the alien boy. If I really tried I could probably remember their names but I won’t. Anyway, normal story, boy is in love with girl, girl doesn’t realise boy exists (or aliens for that matter, but that’s beside the point). In the culmination of the first series, in an act of empathy and wishing to help the girl who was facing some drama and feeling all insecure as girls do, the alien boy uses his alien powers to allow the girl to see herself, just for a few moments, through his eyes. In the ten seconds that he touches her she not only sees how much he is captivated by her, but also sees herself objectively through the eyes of another. She sees her true self, her beauty, her capabilities, her essential being, just as she is, and it changes her from that moment. I remember being moved to tears by this piece of corny American teen drama in a way that I didn’t even understand, or at the very least thought was pathetic romanticism.

We all have a deep need for intimacy, to be seen and understood, appreciated and enjoyed, and worthy of another’s time and attention just for who we are. I have heard it said that the world doesn’t know how to raise its boys into real men anymore. I am becoming quite certain that the world doesn’t know how to raise its girls into essential women anymore either, whole women who can contribute fully to a world that needs her skills and capabilities.

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