Written By Eliza Haywood
It is not a secret, my fellow women that we live in a primarily patriarchal society, forcing us to live under the confining grasp of the men we willingly choose to woo. When married, we are controlled, and becomes a helpless possession for our husbands to carelessly hold onto without relent. Given no independence of our own, we bury our desire and longing to be the invigorated women that we know exist deep inside of our beings, doomed to conform and to silently surrender to the ridiculous and far too virtuous standards placed upon us.
I will be the first woman to speak out and say that enough is enough! We must find methods to skirt the confines of a male dominated society; we must work together as a unified gender in order to break the chains placed upon us by our male cohorts. We must find the confidence to secure our own emotional independence, allowing our true feelings of desire to find a path towards expression.
How, you ask me, do we being to break free? The answer to this question is quite simply "masquerade." We must disguise ourselves in order to feel the freedom that we so passionately desire. While I realize that this answer may seem quite unconventional, I must remind you that I did not enter the female-centric writing arena simply to write by a conventional hand. We, as women, are just as capable of making advances on men as men are capable of taking advantage of our socially constructed identities; we are beings just as capable of lust and desire. Society's standards are our chains, yet I have found that when we disguise ourselves as a woman who is without chains yet bound to her husband, we experience life at its fullest capacity. It is not without consequence my friends, as these disguises cover what we are forbidden to do, so I must warn you to proceed with caution. But please, I ask that you open your eyes to possibility that disguise can hold...use this freedom not only in order to liberate yourself but to liberate the whole of our gender.
Perhaps an example of such occurences will help solidify my claim. For instance, recall the story I documented not long ago about the promiscuous Fantomina, and let her be your guide. As an oppressed woman in our society, she yearned to experience freedom, just as all of us do everyday of our lives. She first took the disguise of a prostitute, a woman in our society who had complete control over every aspect of her life: money, men, and actions, only to name a few. Celia was her second disguise, a servant with much more freedom than a distinguished young girl would have. Mrs. Bloomer, her third disguise was a widow obtaining all the freedom she desired by using her deprivation of wifehood in order to gain the pity of her male endeavor. Her fourth and final identity, the mysterious Incognita, perhaps came the closest to Fantomina's true self, yet still embodied enough of a disguise in order to veil, what was to be considered at the time, her "immoral actions." For at least a few months in her life, this heroine got precisely what she desired simply because her employment of crafty disguise excused her behavior, behavior that would have been impossible has she simply stood firm to her true identity.
We need to express our independence and our inner desires and if disguise will be our aid, so be it. We may never find our true selves, as we must masquerade in order to explore every facet of our being. However, wouldn't you rather feel free to be many different types of women, rather than just one boring and submissive wife? We must create an outlet to this type internal and external freedom. I know that you, just as I, feel the weight of society's irrational standards laying hard upon our shoulders, but disguise can lift this burden. A promiscuous prostitute? perhaps. Immoral? hardly. Find your way to freedom, women, we are no different than men, and should fear no limits. Men strive not to maintain virtue, so why should we? And one more note, to all of you afraid of letting promiscuity define you, fear not. You are finding means to fulfill your needs, and by no means are you defining yourself by your disguise or actions. Live in each moment, feeling the liberation of each disguise. It is a device, not a defining element. [1,2]