Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dustin Hoffman's Tears: On a Culture of Rape and Medication

This morning I go on the internet and I read that twenty-five percent of American women are being medicated for depression, anxiety, ADHD, or another mental disorder.

Twenty-five percent.

Twenty-five percent.

Twenty-five percent.

Nope. Still can't quite wrap my mind around it.

Flabbergasted, I post the stat on Facebook, appending the word "wow." Just "wow."

Moments later, I see my sister-in-law and she says I shouldn't say it's all insane and crazy and what have you, and that, sure, there are over-prescriptions, but she's got a close relative who needs those pills to avoid slipping down toward suicidal depression. She's getting a little worked up and I can tell it's personal, so I counter that I can't remember saying any of those things about women on brain-meds, but she responds that I come off that way.

And I don't mean to, because I, too, have a friend who needs those brain meds to avoid spiraling toward a very dark and very dangerous place, and for his sake, I'm glad those pills are available.

Nevertheless...

Twenty-five percent.

How the #$@*!!! does this happen?

I go online and find an article in The Guardian by a woman who's wanting to make this uptick in brain-med-prescription among women to be about sexual politics and rape culture and sure, I see her point. But I think about how my sister-in-law says maybe these women just need pills to feel normal, and I find myself wondering what the #$@*!!! is normal, and how anyone would know if they were feeling it?!

I think about the culture we're steeped in. I think about rape culture. And death culture. And consumer-conformist culture.

Then, I get personal.

I think about how the women I've dated bear out these statistics, and I think about my role in their lives, and all the sudden it comes crashing down on me that maybe after we allow for all the women who need the meds in a brain-sickness kind of way, maybe it's all just about this video I watched this morning, in which Dustin Hoffman talks about his role in the movie TOOTSIE.



And I wonder if maybe it's inevitable that if you tell a woman from the moment she's born that she's a piece of meat to be looked at, and that it's her job to always look a certain impossible definition-of-beautiful, and young... then maybe she just is going to be depressed. Maybe she's going to be scared, and lose her raison d-etre and joie de vivre and any number of other Frenchnesses that might get beaten out of her by this ugly, endlessly-exported American obsession.

Maybe it's inevitable that she's going to seek out pills. Or more shoes. Or a Little Black Dress. Or any of the other moth-edible fripperies that never. quite. do. it.

I think that if you gave me as my birthright an impossible problem and then told me that my greatest value in life could only be found in solving it, I too would want a pill to help me "feel normal" or, barring that, at least a little okay.

I love Dustin Hoffman's tears, because they are the Shame of Myself, and because in them, perhaps, lies a glimmer of redemptive hope.

Maybe if we can admit what we've done, it won't have to be this way.

I'm currently reading the War of Art, in which the writer Steven Pressfield describes the Resistance that keeps us from our Creative Becoming, and I wonder if maybe this can happen... if maybe we men can Cry enough and Admit our Shame enough that maybe the women who despair of their impossible young-beautiful task can somehow rise above it, fighting the Resistance and the stupidity of Myself and all-the-other-Men and MAKE SOMETHING out of the raw wonder that is themselves.

Perhaps?

For me as a Man-of-Complicity, though, there is nothing left to say. Only Dustin Hoffman's tears.

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