I Am Not A-Mused
Throughout my adulthood while meeting, befriending, and/or loving men, I have discovered something disheartening about patterns of relationships with them. I suppose I possess some “artsy” qualities (or at least appear to), and thus I attract like-minded people of both genders. But when it comes to men, I find that the phenomenon of exploring one another’s “artistic” sides and helping hone them, respectively, is a short-lived one.
As with most human interactions, it begins with the bonding of mutual interests. Movies, books, music, life philosophies — it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is a union of minds, where an idea is shared, and two people are mutually intrigued. Then we discuss our projects, what fascinates us, what makes us think — all of the wonderful parts of beginning to know someone special.
I’m asked about what I’m writing, what’s stumping me, etc. I return the questions. The medium doesn’t really matter, I’ve learned — we all have the same issues, and we all use these mediums to work through our own issues. There is an intellectual bond that forms that is still the closest bond I’ve ever been able to have with someone. There’s something about dueling minds that inspires, amuses, and hits you on levels, you didn’t know you had.
Time passes. The conversations slowly pull to him — his projects, his ideas, his ideas of me. And then it hits me. I’m not a peer, an equal, or an intellectually-minded person to him anymore — I am his muse.
And I am horrified.
The only reason we’ve ever idealized the relationship between the artist and the muse is because we value the artist. His talent and brilliance aided by some sort of nymph is this cute idea that is oppressing both the “nymphs” and the artistic process. What if the “muse” talked back? What if she gave as many opinions as he, and sought to improve her own skills, as well as his? What if she dared to outgrow the pedestal-like pigeonhole that she was once overwhelmed and flattered to occupy?
The answer is that she would not be a muse anymore. She would be an equal, or attempt to be an equal. Equality doesn’t exist in this relationship dynamic.
I would think that such an open-minded, liberal community such as artists, who tend to be at the forefront of social change, would have discarded this ancient notion by now. But the truth is even if there are different names used in the place of “muse” and “artist,” the end-result is nearly identical — the woman once again takes a backseat to the man’s brilliance. She is lauded for her aiding abilities, and little else.
“Objectification” is a term I instantly think of in a sexual way. However, the term applies to the muse and artist relationship too, and scares me more than in the conventional sense because it’s so unexpected. We can blame biology for a lot of sexual objectification because ultimately everything we do is to survive and produce more of us. Yet, this type of objectification has evolved into a whole different kind of animal, one that you trust with your innermost thoughts, one that you believe is reciprocated, and one that you believe is meaningful not just to you. The objectification doesn’t have to exist, but it does. When it does, it hurts so much more because you can be cut deeper when your depths have already been exposed.