I got an anonymous comment on one of my blogposts. (To see the post in question, click here). Firstly, I am clearly not excelling at this whole blogger-thing – because it must have lay there unnoticed for quite some time, (note to self, must read and pay attention to inbox more frequently), and secondly, I then allowed the feedback to occupy more headspace in my mind than it truly deserved.
To tell you the truth, it bothered me.
The comment read:
“Not ok to say that women are afraid to lose their man = their “provider”. You serious? Men are also not “automatically seen as having a protector role”. This statement is ridiculous and quite frankly surprising coming from a strong independent woman like you.”
It was the last line that I couldn’t stop dwelling on, not to mention that the person had to hide behind the facade of anonymity.
coming from a strong independent woman like you.
A strong independant woman like me.
A strong independant woman like me…
A strong independant woman like me…?
For every strong independent woman like me, I know girls who (in real life) stay with men that do not love them or treat them in the way that these girls deserve to be treated, because these women have limited career, financial, visa related options available to them. And so, by staying with a man who can ‘provide’ them with all of the things that make a comfortable life, is enough, but in turn, these women have a very real fear of losing that man, lest they be plunged into whatever situation they’d been trying to avoid. Men through-out centuries have been labelled as providers and protectors since the time of hunter gatherers. Just because we are currently in the midst of a feminist fuelled revolution (which by the way, I am supportive of) does not change the fact that many men still have this type of deep rooted belief system and stereotype.
Take this for example. Imagine us, (my flatmates and I) – three girls alone in a house with an bear-of-a-man intruder. I don’t fancy any of our chances taking him out. Reimagine the same scenario, only this time, there’s a boyfriend staying over in the house too. I would fully expect that our chances of taking down an intruder have increased with some extra muscle, height and experience of a fist fight on our side, and I’d bet my last pound that the boyfriend would be the first one out of us girls and him to take control of the situation (we are not wrestlers and female tae kwon do champions). If that makes me an anti-feminist and narrow minded, purely because of this opinion alone, then so be it.
I have always generally considered myself highly independent in many other ways though, (just not when it comes to intruders) and funnily enough, mere days ago, I was telling someone just so. I said something along the lines of, ‘I can take care of myself’. If any of you reading this have yet to hear the phrase, ‘don’t tempt fate’, then you’re about to become familiar with an example of exactly what it means… Anyway, the angels must have been playing tricks on me, (either that or karma intervened) because on that very same day, at precisely 3am, somewhere in Shanghai, I was sprawled across the cold tiles of a hotel bathroom floor drenched in sweat after vomiting numerous times. My legs were so weak, that they buckled when I tried to walk back to my bed to retrieve the water bottle from beside it, so I gave up, and yet again, I ended up a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor in a very sorry state.
This was genuinely one of the few times only, when I can recall wanting to sacrifice anything in order to just not be alone. I could have really done with a sympathetic, helping hand – even just someone to turn down the AC which had heated the room up to a staggering 24 degrees celsius and bring me the bottle of water laying next to the bed that felt like a space mission to reach.
At 7am, I managed drag myself back to bed and to send a message to some of my fellow colleagues on the trip, explaining that I wouldn’t be meeting them for the day, as planned. When I say I explained this, it was more like,
“Can’t meet you guys. Sick. <vomit emoji>”
Then a second message, this time to my flatmates;
“What’s the number to call sick outstation?”
(I never bothered to update myself with the newest number since, me vomiting is a rare thing but also did not have the energy to go into great depth about why I needed the number).
Why the hell was this happening to me? I never get sick! Lying in bed with the toilet bin nestled beside me for comfort whilst I shivered and lay sweating, I felt very alone. I was so unprepared for this. I had no time for this! Being in China when in good health is a struggle for me, never mind in a state like the one I was in! On a serious note, even bread doesn’t even taste the same in China! I had visions of being stuck in the confines of the dungeon hotel room for at least another two days. The very thought spun me into panic.
I messaged my beau.
“Are you still awake? 😦 I’m really not well.”
Oh God. I was moving into a new face of un-independance. A whiny annoying one; a dangerous territory to be in. Nobody finds a sympathy seeker attractive. *DANGER*.
Whats worse was that my VPN failed me, and aside from the usual suspects being disabled (like Facebook and Instagram), GOOGLE too is banned! No google maps to get to a pharmacy, no google translate to tell a pharmacist what exactly are my symptoms. No Google to Google my symptoms. It was then I realised just how reliant I am on the search engine giant… On top of all this, the hotel wifi spontaneously disconnected whenever it wanted, and voice notes, videos and images wouldn’t download to WhatsApp. (Don’t even get me started on wether Netflix worked…).
Luckily, (after what felt like an eternal episode of Discovery Channel’s ‘China from above’ – one of only four English speaking channels available at the hotel) later that day, a colleague replied asking if I needed some medication picking up; an absolute godsend considering little miss independent who never ever gets sick only carries, vitamins and paracetamol with her on her travels. At least a sign of being optimistic. My flatmate would be appalled – this is the same flatmate who insisted we take Imodium with us to the water park despite neither of us suffering from a sore stomach…
I insisted that, no, I’d be fine (despite being anything but fine). But I would manage. Wouldn’t I? I might have cried, except I was so dehydrated I don’t think a tear could have manifested itself if I’d watched Beaches one hundred times over. “I’ll feel better after another nap.” I convinced myself.
An hour later, there was a gentle knock on the door. I grunted and heaved myself up to squint through the peephole. There, outside my door, this work colleague hero stood with a bag of food poisoning vitals: medication; water; pastries; bananas and hydration drinks.
“Feel Better!” he said with a concerned smile, and with that, he practically sprinted away from me – undoubtedly cautious incase whatever I had was contagious.
I managed a barely audible thank you that belittled my genuine gratitude. But I lingered all the same for a minute, looking down at the bag of kindness at my feet, and I realised that maybe I am not so independant after all, and maybe everyone has me all wrong, myself and Anon included.