Now that I’ve lured you with the just-racy enough-but-not-actually-inappropriate-lest-my-work-internet-marshal-block-this title, here is a highly-recommended video of Isabel Allende telling tales of passion at TED. It’s worth the ten minutes it takes to watch/listen, I mean it.
Before anyone starts turning this into an accusation, the concept I am trying to highlight is NOT about being a man-hater or about whining that women are being held down by the figurative, and sometimes literal, MAN. I for one have had plenty of equal opportunities and do not consider myself disadvantaged or resentful of my male peers. For me, Allende’s speech is about recognizing the oppression of women and children in certain parts of the world without being a hater of men.
More importantly, it’s also not about terminology, etymology, or categorizations – it’s not about defining or even using “feminism,” whatever that might mean to different people. It’s about living a life passionately and fighting for what we dream and want with courage and calling it whatever the hell you want.
It seems to me that courage is an odd idea in our contemporary civilized society. Not many of us have really had to bolster it recently, and potentially, never at all. Our idea of bravery entails opening up a frozen yogurt stand instead of going into investment banking, or moving to a (sweet) apartment in SanFran from an (also sweet) one in New York – God forbid, how will this transcontinental adventure fare? The things we risk with usually are (gasp) our advancement in the company, our geographic mobility, and sometimes our friendships, but let’s (as my thirteen-year old ghetto self would say) get real about the relative weight of these choices. Most of us up-and-coming twenty-somethings in the Western world (excuse the delineation) have had to make choices that require very little actual courage and do not have at stake our livelihood, our family, our lives. Those are the kinds of choices Allende gives examples of in her speech.
I fully recognize that there are younguns among us who have have needed real courage to deal with situations and decisions in their lives. And I am not encouraging or endorsing the rest of us to seek out dangerous or disadvantageous situations to test our own courage…I’m a believer that we should be cognizant and thankful of our privileged position and actually use it, not flee from it out of guilt, or experimentation, or overburdened expectations. However, I am proposing that we come at things with a bit more gusto. And that (at least to me) is what Allende’s speech is about: passion. Having it, living by it, doing things with it.