e-WAVES Issue #2 November 2013: Anais Nin

Anais Nin by Joanne Nayagam

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” at quote was the first time I fell in love with Anais Nin. “Who was this woman?” I wondered. Who was this woman who recognised that there was no weakness in being in love and having a man by her side? Who was this that in fact demanded a partner who saw her strengths and potential and, as a life partner should, compel them to bring forth the very best in her? Her fire was in fact deep within and she needn’t prove it to any man. The right one would recognise it and want to see it burn brighter.

Nin lived between 1903 and 1977. Born in Paris to a Catalan father and a Danish mother, she spent her life in many places, including Cuba and Los Angeles. She was well-known as a writer, with amongst other literary works to her name wrote novels and critical studies. However, she was most widely recognised as a diarist. Numerous of her journals have been published to date. In an entry sometime in June of 1933, Nin wrote, “I only regret that everybody wants to deprive me of the journal, which is the only steadfast friend I have, the only one which makes my life bearable, because my happiness with human beings is so precarious, my confiding moods rare, and the least sign of non-interest is enough to silence me. In the journal I am at ease.”

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The writer also found herself attracted to the sensual universe of erotica writing and she was even viewed as one of the finest authors of erotica writing. Ever. One wonders if the two connect – the immense pleasure of expressing her voice and her talent for writings of the sensual realm. Nonetheless, Nin was an icon. She gave voice to what women are made of – strong, gentle, sensual and intelligent.

Many women feel either ways about Nin. Some viewed her as a pioneer in feminism – instead of being a “bra burner”, she was embracing her femininity. Moreover, during a time when a woman’s place was frequently thought to be in the kitchen whipping up gastronomical pleasures for her husband, Nin delved into arts and culture, honing her talent. Others felt that she was misusing her womanhood, using her charm and good looks to find her way through the world.

Nin might not be your typical feminist in that sense of the word. No, you probably wouldn’t have found her standing at the frontlines of campaigns, shouting for equality. But in her own way, Nin was an emblem for women. She knew herself and all the characteristics that being born a female had endowed her with. Yes, she loved being a woman and indulged in her womanhood. She knew that she was sensual. She knew that she was strong. And she loved herself. And to me, that is what being a feminist means. Realising that being a woman means being blessed with characteristics that separate us from the other sex. Understanding that these characteristics do not make us weaker or less powerful and accepting them. It is about knowing thyself, and wholeheartedly loving thyself.

WRITER’S PROFILE: Joanne Nayagam is a woman in progress.

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