An Occasional Column by
“Dr.” Amy Fusselman
Amy Fusselman is not a doctor. She will occasionally write about issues relevant to those trying to live harmoniously in a nuclear family system.
Amy’s books, The Pharmacist’s Mate and 8 are available in our store.
Amy’s new book, Savage Park, _will be out in Fall 2014. She also edits the art and literary journal Ohio Edit.
Credo for Raising a Powerful Girl and the Bodywash’s Song.
OK, folks, no parties now, it’s back-to-school time, chop-chop.
Have you noticed how the world is going to hell? This has implications for child rearing. It’s no longer enough to do what you were trying to do last week, i.e., to raise “good kids.” The world doesn’t need good kids anymore. The world needs better kids. Specifically, the world needs kids who are better than we are.
It is not easy to raise a kid who is better than you. You are always stymied by what you think you know. However, there are techniques you can use to remedy this.
One is to remember to think big-picture. The days of hand wringing over whether the kid is listening to the original or scrubbed version of “99 Problems” are over.
Women are going to rule the world eventually. In the meantime, we can help the process along by actively and consciously attempting to raise girls who are more powerful than we are.
How to Raise a Powerful Girl
1. Thoroughly and fearlessly examine whether you are truly willing to nurture and support the development of a girl who is more powerful than you. You are likely to encounter some ambivalence in yourself. Remember that in raising a powerful daughter you will also become more powerful; this may make many people close to you unhappy. Are you really willing to do this? Complete honesty in this regard will help you immensely.
2. Examine your own relationship to power. Are you or have you ever been in an abusive relationship? Have you ever been threatened, abused, molested, or raped? If so, have you healed or are you working on it? Can you make your own decisions? Can you stand up for yourself? If you are in a partnership, is it with someone who respects and encourages your power? Ask yourself these questions. Work with the answers you find.
- Openly discuss the fact that women are and have been oppressed. If you have sons, include them in this discussion; try to nurture compassion in both sexes.
- Calmly examine pop cultural presentations of femininity—Barbie, princesses, etc.—as mildly interesting ideas offered to the human race from dim but well-meaning aliens. Create and protect your own family culture where truly strong women are recognized and revered.
- Have fun, be grateful, and enjoy your life with your daughter. Remember that cultivating joy is one of the greatest powers there is.
OK, let us look to the mailbag. This letter comes to us from a human named “N.Y. Woods,” who asks an important question:
What is the best way to be incredibly desirable? Is there a certain body wash? A way of wearing ones hair? A particular way that I should be painting my fingernails?
— NY Woods
Now, NY Woods, I am so pleased that you wrote to ask me this, because often people make the mistake of thinking that questions involving desirability, or beauty, should be directed towards those who are beautiful and desirable, but you have wisely ascertained that desirability is not an aesthetic issue but a medicalizational one. And I am here for you, my pretty.
So let’s begin. The way to be desirable is to have desire. Now, you may be thinking, that’s nonsense, because how old is that story of the person who is full of desire for another and yet that desire is unrequited?
But this is true: in order to be desirable you have to have desire. However, there is a trick. You have to have desire for something that is not a person or a thing. You have to have a desire for something you cannot touch, something bigger than you.
It is not easy to have desire like this. What is easy to do is put on your T-shirt with the tiny holes in it and go to the corner and get a cup of coffee and drink it while scanning the newspaper and being a little bit grumpy. What is not easy is setting yourself on fire, which is more or less what having desire for something bigger than yourself, is.
Setting yourself on fire takes time and requires you to look inward, and focus on rubbing your internal, invisible sticks together, and this is hard when bodywashes keep calling you out. But you must ignore the song of the bodywash. You must continue to look inward, and you must find a problem you can work on your whole life, a giant, almost- unanswerable problem, to set yourself on fire about. Once you do this, people will come, they must come, to warm themselves by you.
What is your fire, O NY Woods? I can’t pretend to know.
SUGGESTED READSDiversity In the News: Column 6: Chinese Concussion to Nowhere
by Ellen Ferguson (1/24/2011)
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Wonderful” by Everclear
by Mike Cisneros (2/3/2005)
No Fear of Flying: Kamikaze Missions in Death, Sex, and Comedy: These Things Happened
by Michelle Mirsky (10/4/2011)
RECENTLYLike and Literally Make a Deal
by Charlie Geer (12/6/2013)
Introducing Two New Nick Hornby Titles
by Jess Walter and McSweeney's Books (12/6/2013)
Norse History for Bostonians: The Prose Edda for Bostonians: Gylfaginning, Part I
by Rowdy Geirsson (12/6/2013)
POPULARI Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled
by Melinda Taub (5/18/2011)
Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan
by Paul William Davies (12/26/2012)
Retail Therapy: Inside the Apple Store: It’s a Trap!
by J.K. Appleseed (11/21/2013)