The independence of the squirrel
A dialogue between Simones the dead leaves and Luce the squirrel. The Simones assert that femininity is a condition imposed by history and society, and they question traditional roles. Luce thinks that males organize everything according to their nature and she prefers her independence so that she can live without concessions.
Simones: Luce, Luce, what are you doing today? You are always busy!
Luce: I have to collect nuts, my children are hungry and I am the only one raising them.
Simones: has your partner left you?
Luce: no, I got rid of him. He is only useful for breeding, then what’s the point of keeping him?
Simones: but you look so sweet and tender!
Luce: I am sweet and tender with my children, but a male squirrel has too many needs and demands. He wants to organize everything according to his nature, accepts the difference badly, ignores my intuitions. It is better for him to go elsewhere or to fend for himself.
Simones: are you all like that? We thought we were the only ones with these kinds of ideas.
Luce: yes, of course, that makes our life easier.
Simones: but don’t you think there are advantages to living as a couple? It allows tasks to be shared, it offers emotional support and it brings pleasures.
Luce: yes, it’s true, raising children alone is not easy. We have to constantly run from here and there and to leave them alone at the mercy of cats, raptors, martens. However, a male squirrel doesn’t know how to organize things like me and gets angry if he doesn’t have the last word. I can’t count on him because he’s always gone on an adventure. His companionship, even temporary, is often more of a burden than a help. It’s why I prefer to see other females with whom it is easier to find similarities.
Simones: so it’s surprising that many species live as couples…
Luce: it may be that some males are good companions but in squirrels, it is not found. It is also possible that these are couples where the female has given up her imagination to bow to that of the male and benefits from a protection that, for my part, I find more imaginary than real.
Simones: if kids were raised differently, don’t you think that could change the way they behave? The difference between sexes seems to us to be built in history, not inscribed in nature – beyond a different morphology, of course.
Luce: my male children are raised according to my views and yet they regain their nature as soon as they leave the nest. They are quickly in conflict with each other. They have to struggle to survive and to find their place, this creates for them a vision of the world which differs from mine, and which they then want to impose without seeing that their experience is not universal.
Simones: do you regret it?
Luce: No, not at all. I like my independence even if it costs me, and I let the males be as they want.
Simones: yet I believe that if each accepted the other in their difference, life together would be more enriching for everyone.
Luce: you mean the males would learn from us?
Simones: or don’t try to mold us in their image.
Luce: I’m afraid our differences are insurmountable.
Simones: you might be right. In any case, we are not holding you back any longer and we wish you good luck in your harvest.
Luce: thanks Simones, it should be fine. I know I put a lot of nuts aside last fall, I just got to find them. It can be a bit difficult sometimes because I have a lot of caches and I get confused but if I search well, I end up finding almost everything.
Simones: you are very organized after all.
Luce: I have to because I can only count on myself.
Can a common life, particularly between partners of opposite sexes, only exist around a relationship of domination?
For Luce, this is obvious because the nature of the male is to want to share his vision of the world that he thinks is universal. It follows that in a male-female couple, the female must always bow to the needs and ideas of her companion at the cost of her freedom.
The Simones agree with them while saying that cohabitation has its benefits and education is to blame, not nature. The freedom could be in accepting differences.
Why is the relationship between men and women almost always seen from the angle of male domination?
Is matriarchy a solution to patriarchy?
Want to think a little more? See Speculum of the other woman by Luce Irigaray where she explains how femininity will never be understood if it’s only considered from a male point of view.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Luce and the Simones? Their favorite books are in the domain library.