Fembots: The New Breed of Women
In essence, we've mortgaged off our time and energy. "I've got
worries," says Kathleen, 29. "It starts with a mentally challenged
brother and ailing parents. I'm navigating the backstabbing nightmare of the
modern workplace, where everyone, including me, is determined to hold onto
their jobs with white-knuckle ferocity. I only have so much emotion to go
around, and I certainly don't have time to chat with the girls about how
bloated I feel."
When time isn't an issue, it may come down to control. In a binge-prone
world, fembots are emotional anorexics. Maintaining a safe distance from your
feelings can be liberating (and anytime we co-opt a traditionally male
attribute, we give ourselves a little pat on the back), but anyone who made it
through Psych 101 knows that too much compartmentalizing will have its
consequences. Feelings ignored can come back to haunt you. Worse still is
another side effect of fembotism: numbness.
Over the years, I've built up defense mechanisms that have hardened like
plaque. In love, I believe you either hide or seek — and I damn well didn't
want to do the latter. Running after someone was too exhausting, and no one was
ever worth catching. So I spent the better part of my 20s in clipped, casual
relationships — until I met my husband two years ago. He was a 21st-century
emo-boy who looked like Jesus Christ. On one of our first dates, he figured out
what was making my sound system so temperamental. We sat Indian-style on the
floor, the guts of the amplifier splayed across my living room. "I love
complicated things," he confessed. Good thing for that, I thought.
While some women have knotty friendships that go back to grade school, most
of my social lineage dates back no more than three years. A few weeks ago, I
found a folder of cards from forgotten acquaintances. "I know we're going
to be friends when we're old and gray," wrote a girl from my first job.
"I don't think I could have gotten through this period without your ear,
Dread and a faint longing washed over me. My perfectionist side believes
I've failed at being the kind of woman my mom manages to be so naturally. The
cards show my capacity to love, my ability to be there — but I feel like a big
poseur. I've tossed my friends aside but can't part with the cards, as if I
need proof that I'm actually a caring woman who's capable of deep intimacy and
selflessness. Though I couldn't bring myself to throw them out, I wanted to get
them off my hands. It was a matter of necessity, I told myself. I'm busy. I'm
married. Having to be there for people, and keep it up day after day, makes me
want to take a nice, long nap. I'm not the Bionic Woman. I'm human. My husband
caught me as I put the cards far, far away — at the back of a cluttered walk-in
closet. He asked if I ever missed those old friends.