By doing this together we can produce a more authentic portrayal of the journey of a woman.
For me, one of the most poetic expressions of a female experience was by Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar. In her own life Plath struggled to attain balance between being a mother, a woman, a poet/artist, and in the early sixties it was an even bigger challenge for a woman to do so. Ultimately, she couldn’t cope, so she stuck her head in an oven at the age of thirty while her two small children were in the other room. But within the pages of this fictional account of a young girl’s demise into insanity, we see Plath’s desperation to connect, to relate to something that makes her feel a little less alone in her experience. She, like many of us, wanted to be versatile, possess intricate layers of identities—but instead felt stuffed into one tiny box. The following passage is what inspired the name of this passion-fueled project: The Purple Fig.
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantine and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
But alas, it was exactly what I was looking for and the idea of a fig tree with millions of figs representing the million sides of a woman was perfect! Of course, in her madness, Plath thought if we chose one fig the others would die and obviously it doesn’t have to be this way. What I want to explore with these stories/articles is being as many of these figs as possible at any point in our journey. It is easier said than done, I know this from personal experience, but it’s the journey towards being ‘one thing without the other parts dying’ that excites me. Nobody wants to be stuffed into one label, certainly not this lady.
I wanted to create this particular avenue of connection by publishing stories online from real women, not acclaimed writers with a bunch of fancy metaphors and resumes a mile long. We are looking for well-written, honest pieces that pertain to the journey of a woman. Submit your story/essay pitch, blog idea—anything that you think would fit with The Purple Fig vibe. Please see the submissions page.
The journey of a woman is not a simple one, but there are plenty of uncomplicated pleasures along the way. We not only honor being truthful about the challenges and struggles, we also celebrate a plethora of other simple things, passions and sides to our every day life that are important to us. It’s all here.
Thank you so much for visiting The Purple Fig.
From the time I was a hormonal teenager, I found most of my comfort in a room full of girls. Talking, sharing, relating. I could have done it all day, every day. And I tried to, but curfews and school made it a bit difficult. In later years, living with friends allowed the conversation to continue.
What are we going to do with our lives, who will we impact, how can we be better, how big was his penis?
I have always gravitated towards strong, independent, intelligent, mouthy chicks. These are women with something to say, albeit not always deep and emotional, but with humour and meaning. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They don’t let men tell them what to do. Some of them are more reserved, a bit quieter, unassuming—the classier version of me—but who still say cock and refuse to be pushed around. None of them stand in the middle of a room with a megaphone and speak their mind just for the sake of hearing their own voice. And they aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions: Am I making a mistake? And say, I need help. They tell their stories the way they happened in reality—they talk about the part of them they don’t like very much. It’s not easy to do, but they do it because they are genuine.
Not all women are so able to freely express their inner most struggles however. Caitlin Moran writes in “How To Be A Woman”:
Yes, an old-fashioned feminist “consciousness-raising” still has enormous value. When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still won’t often tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk. Perhaps the endlessly reported rise in female binge drinking is simply modern women’s attempt to communicate with each other.
Now, you may not agree with Moran, because you and your friends talk about anything and everything, as do mine. But, she is right in that in general women do struggle telling the truth about their experience. I discovered this when I became a mother. I felt very isolated at first because every other mom I met seemed to have it all together. Breastfeeding worked perfectly; the sleeplessness wasn’t a problem; the delivery wasn’t that bad without an epidural. It went on and on, and my inside voice just screamed behind my tongue during these conversations, “are you serious?! I got an epidural! Breastfeeding is not amazing for me. My baby irritates me sometimes!” I was actually lonely in my new community of women. It was a totally new experience for me to be blocking words with my tongue. I wondered if they were being genuine; I do believe some of them were. But, I also had to think that some of these women weren’t using their inside voices. Perhaps they were using their ‘I’m rocking this’ voice.
Was this how all mothers felt? I wondered. Of course not. I knew this from my sister, books and new mom friends, who expressed some of the same struggles. Eventually, when I got to hear more about other experiences that were similar to mine, I felt better and less stressed. I couldn’t believe what an incredible gift it is to have women in my life who tell it like it really is. I had been taking it for granted for so many years, because before becoming a mother, it was all I’d known.
All I want with this online project is for us ladies to use our real voices. Thanks so much for visiting this site! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
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