I’m really not into “girl power” and all that “I don’t need a man” jazz.
But I do operate a bit under similar assumptions, I’ve noticed.
On one level this is simple practicality: I’m away from Jay most of our waking hours. I was 19 before I met him. I can handle myself just-fine-thank-you.
When I imagine someone being defended when s/he doesn’t need it, it seems either comical (“thanks anyway”) or a new threat (“What exactly is your motivation here?”).
This happens in my novel, which could be why I’ve thought about it as much as I have
I didn’t think of “being defended” as actually useful until it sort of happened to me.
This summer I was in an informal class about the cannon of Scripture (how it was established, etc.), and at one point we were discussing something and I brought up the idea of time as a filter. I was going to use my beloved folktales as my example, but realized the inappropriateness in this context and clammed up.
The teacher encouraged me to finish and I began again with the disclaimer that “this isn’t going to sound very spiritual, but” here you go.
Most of the small class seemed to understand and accept my point, but one fellow (we have a history of confrontation, so maybe we pick on each other more?) began to attack my use of fairy tales in a discussion about the validity of scripture.
Never at a loss for words with this man, I was ready to defend myself as soon as he stopped to breathe, but it proved unnecessary. The teacher himself stepped into the debate and killed it, pointing out I’d acknowledged the inequality before launching my comparison.
The argumentative guy yielded graciously to the teacher’s authority and class moved on.
I don’t know if the teacher even would have thought of that as defending me (it could just as easily been an experienced teacher redirecting the class so we could stay on-topic).
But the fact that I was both absolved and didn’t have to expend my emotional energy (on someone not likely to listen) was surprisingly delightful.
This kind of defense, I’ve found, is what my parents and Jay have been so good at with/for me.
They don’t fight my battles, but they give me insightful counsel and frequently help me get around the troubling issue entirely.
One example related to my last post:
The second week of August (!) I went to a thrift store’s $1 tag day and rolled my eyes at all the Halloween stuff already being brought in. We brushed it off with an anatomy review (what’s the longest bone in the body? What do you call this one at the top?).
In a week I’d forgotten and we went back for the next sale. More stuff out. Grosser stuff. The kids were beginning to act a little creeped. While checking out I told them we wouldn’t be back until after Halloween.
Later Jay asked me why I hadn’t just left when I saw what was there. I replied that it honestly hadn’t occurred to me; I was “on a mission.” I told him now that he’d planted the idea I’d probably remember better to use it.
Later, before snow-fall, I drove the kids to a park to eat and play. It was empty except for a man who, in Melody’s words, was “acting so silly.“
I guessed he was drunk and my mind raced through implications and scenarios. We had just arrived and acknowledged him politely. I hated the idea that he’d think we were leaving because we were judging (what other word can you use?) something about him.
Then Jay’s line of Just leave. rang in my mind. This wasn’t about him. It was about me being a mom and listening to my own intuition and being prudent.
So we left.
And it made for some interesting (and awkward) conversation in the car, but I still think we did the right thing.