She Bets Her Life

A writer and former compulsive gambler reflects on women and addiction.

Eat Pray Love Shop - the high cost of living vicariously

Media and Marketing prey on our deepest longings.

They sold you the book.  They sold you the movie.  Now they are selling you cheap stuff with which you can pretend that you too can just jet off to exotic locations and find love for your body; peace in a troubled world and twu wuv (See Princess Bride, one of the funniest and most wickedly accurate movies ever made*)  A flyer from a corporate "exotic" gift store arrived in my mail. I learned that you can buy an Eat Pray Love printed tunic from India for $19.99 and forget the pitiful wages of the women who sewed it.  Or you can buy a handmade journal, bookmark and pen set from India (Choose from 4 styles!!) and continue to have amnesia for working conditions in that country,  How about bamboo blinds printed with a picture of Buddha or an Eat Pray Love Charm Necklace from India - wear your very own plastic Buddha or Shiva hanging around your neck?  You can Eat Pray Love - and Shop till you drop.

Women have told me that EPL was sooooooo inspirational.  They read it and learned to love themselves unconditionally.  They knew they didn't have to feel guilty anymore about - well, really - about anything they did.  They were perfect beings.  They told me this as they trundled three shopping bags in each hand, slightly out of breath because of the forty extra pounds they were carrying and wuv?, oh well, someday, He would arrive.

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None of these breathless gals had figured out that they would never be able to afford the fossil-fuelled therapy that the author gave herself.  They hadn't figured out that food, a half hour of meditation and the perfect lover would never give them anything but the credit card bill for the book they had bought on Amazon to save a few bucks.  

I've taught women's circles and writing circles for three decades.  When I first began the work, many women were just beginning to emerge from believing they were second class citizens.  We needed to learn to say, "NO!"  We needed to learn that we had the right to need and to want.  We needed to make lists of our longings and we needed to begin to live them.  At first filling needs wasn't about spending forty bucks for a meditation candle or buying four colors of a t-shirt one had to have.  It wasn't about retreating from the world in one's $159.0 00 hand-woven hooded meditation cloak (I'm not exaggerating - email me at shebetsherlife@gmail.com if you want to know where to find one.) Many of the women I worked with needed to learn how to leave an abusive partner; how to stand up for their rights on the job; how to insist on dignity in there aging.  I worked on a sliding fee scale, led free workshops and saw many of my students carry the gift forward.

Now?  So much of what we early Feminists fought for has been commodified and cheapened.  And, what once was hard-won dignity, personal freedom and real intimacy is being bought and sold - as shoddy consumer trophies and "stuff" to feed addictions.  

You deserve better.  Our daughters and grand-daughters deserve better.  Loving your body?  Living with deep compassion?  Twu wuv?  Real self-knowledge and committed intimacy isn't a temporary rush.  It is a consequence of hard work, anything but twu wuv:

*Impressive Clergyman

Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew, today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.  And wuve..... twue wuve, wiww fowwow you fowevah--  So tweasuwe youw wove, --

 

-The Princess Bride

Mary Sojourner, M.A., is the author of She Bets Her Life: A True Story of Gambling Addiction (Seal Press/ April 2010) and Going Through Ghosts (U.Nevada Press, 2010).

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