I don't watch This is Us. Not because I don’t like the show but the white people were overwhelmingly annoying and *SPOILER ALERT* considering that I lost my father to cancer, I couldn't deal with the trauma of Randall's dad's story.
But my social media has been blowing up about Randall and Beth’s relationship, which concerned me. I liked Beth and Randall, mostly. They were the most cohesive couple on the show and seemed well balanced. I mean, I only watched most of season 1, and I didn’t really take time to analyze their relationship with so many unlikable, and shitty and fatphobic storylines going on around them. There is a lot happening in that show.
The latest happening is the conflict between Beth and Randall. Someone posted their fight scene on Facebook and it moved me because I’ve been there. I’ve been in relationships where I was expected to compromise too much of myself for someone else. Not just in romantic relationships...I am aware of the entitlement people feel to me and my time and my efforts and the backlash of saying no.
Womxn are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers of everyone and to give of ourselves until we have nothing left. Black womxn are expected to do this even more as we are punished into coddling whiteness and maleness at all times. And when we don't want to do that, when we don't want to be the caretaker of anyone other than ourselves, we are casually and routinely shamed and socially punished for it.
I'd always known I was going to college. It was expected of me by parents who valued education and, at the time, realized it was a barrier that we could minimize. I had great grades but no extracurriculars. Knowing that I needed those, I told my parents I was joining some after school groups. I was told that I couldn't do that because I needed to be home to help with my siblings.
We fought. Then my parents talked and my mom left her job to be home after school while I built up my extracurriculars. I don't know how they reached that decision and every family dynamic is different. What I do know is that they respected my autonomy at the expense of my mother's. And seeing that was one of the reasons I never wanted children and I questioned the idea of marriage.
We live in a culture where womxn's needs and accomplishments are always determined to be less than that of a man's and if she does something comparable, she better look good doing it because ugly women don't matter but not too good because then she only got it cuz she's hot. Her job is expendable because she's going to have to give it up when she has kids anyway, right? And kids are their own reward, right? Except not really. But they are the womxn's job, right? The home is the womxn's responsibility, right? The emotional well-being of the home is the womxn's labor, right?
Those assumptions are reinforced constantly by those around us. It is so normalized as to be invisible, until a womxn says that they are not interested in doing any of that. Then, they are selfish. Then they are unnatural. Then they aren't good candidates for relationships...especially if they don't want children. Then we aren't serving in the role nature intended...
If no one eats poisonous plants, then poison isn't serving the purpose nature intended, either. Just because it's possible doesn't mean we have to do it. We aren't all the same and we do not want the same things. That it is easy for people to accept this about men but refuse to consider this for womxn only reinforces that our individuality and autonomy is always second to our usefulness and people's ability to exploit that for their own gain.
Are we being used if we aren't aware that we're being used? Is it exploitation if we believe it's the only choice available to us? By making choice and opportunity a privilege instead of a right, it both normalizes oppressive beliefs and structures while blaming the victim for their inability to access it. By convincing us that we *should* be subservient to the needs of all those around us, we teach and reinforce it to all those around us, both through our "choices" and the tacit approval of those around us. When we pass laws that reinforce these beliefs one choice at a time, we strengthen its hold and then code it into morality.
This is a prison that has been built over centuries and with its brutality encoded into policy and law enforcement.
Colonized nations are always prisons. Those living in them are always servants to oppressors. Convenience and the illusion of choice keeps us docile and complicit in our servitude. We are taught to bend from the cradle till we break into our graves.
This is not the life I want to live. This is not the way I choose to live. I will scream and kick and fight however I can to resist this. And I will be a bitch and a monster to those who fight to maintain the status quo.
Because that's what rebels are...enemies of the state who seek to break the strings that control us. And that is the real choice you have before you - to bend until you break or break to make them bend.
I'm already broken. It's time to make them bend.
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