Untamed is about the author learning to listen to her inner voice, while encouraging her readers to be aware of their programming and indoctrination, both subtle and overt, and to stop focusing on pleasing others, while instead starting to live their own truth. This book is about becoming who you are as opposed to who the world has told you to be.
She maintains that women are tamed from birth by systems that include misogyny, body shaming, religious doctrine, and the suppression of their desires. She says that we are not meant to be stressed out and selfless, trying to measure up, but can trust in what resonates as authentic, even if it runs against society’s expectations.
She claims that our own liberation liberates those around us as well, and I agree, since what blesses one blesses all. Growing up, when I routinely refused to give up my own power, I was repeatedly told I was “selfish,” when really I only wanted to maintain the validity of my own voice and identity, instead of let it be undermined. It was not selfish; it just did not fit into the patriarchal, societal structure, which normalized the subjugation of women. I found that endlessly frustrating. From a place as a whole, worthy person with a voice, I would then be in a position to stick up for others as well. I was trying to find a baseline, from which I’d be any good for anyone else. Such is also the case with this author, although I started the process much earlier.
Some may be put off by the ego-centric stridence and bravado of relaying her message, while others will be refreshed, relieved, and invigorated by it. There is an interesting tension between the author’s Christian identity and her marriage to a woman, and there is a sense of entitlement evident that makes it clear that this book was definitely written by a white woman of privilege. Because of this, its content may not ring true for everyone.
The book is chock full of succinct, somewhat trite and oversimplified maxims about finding and cultivating one’s personal power. I love a pithy quote, as you may know, so these worked for me; it was like an entire playground full of them. Many will want to read this book with a highlighter savoring each one, while others will roll their eyes at the incessant parade of one liners. Here are some I extracted to share with you, that will give you a sense of the assertive flavor of this book:
- “Our culture was built upon and benefits from the control of women. The way power justifies controlling a group is by conditioning the masses to believe that the group cannot be trusted. So the campaign to convince us to mistrust women begins early and comes from everywhere.”
- “They convinced us to be afraid of ourselves. So we do not honor our own bodies, curiosity, hunger, judgment, experience, or ambition. Instead, we lock away our true selves. Women who are best at this disappearing act earn the highest praise: She is so selfless.”
- “Can you imagine? The epitome of womanhood is to lose one’s self completely. That is the end goal of every patriarchal culture. Because a very effective way to control women is to convince women to control themselves.”
- “What the world needs is more women who have quit fearing themselves and started trusting themselves What the world needs is masses of women who are entirely out of control.”
- “We can either control our selves or love our selves, but we can’t do both.”
- “I had been deceived. The only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me.”
- “The opposite of sensitive is not brave. It’s not brave to refuse to pay attention, to refuse to notice, to refuse to feel and know and imagine. The opposite of sensitive is insensitive, and that’s no badge of honor.”
- “I’ll abandon everyone else’s expectations of me before I’ll abandon myself. I’ll disappoint everyone else before I’ll disappoint myself. I’ll forsake all others before I’ll forsake myself. Me and myself: We are till death do us part.”
- “To be brave is to forsake all others to be true to yourself.”
- “It’s not the cruel criticism from folks who hate us that scares us away from our Knowing; it’s the quiet concern of those who love us.”
- “Be careful with the stories you tell about yourself.”
- “You are not here to waste your time deciding whether my life is true and beautiful enough for you. You are here to decide if your life, relationships, and world are true and beautiful enough for you.”
- “When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.”
- “This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
- “My children do not need me to save them. My children need to watch me save myself.”
- “I did not know that I was supposed to feel everything. I thought I was supposed to feel happy.”
- “You are not crazy. You are a goddamn cheetah.”
- “Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud.”
- “What is better: uncomfortable truth or comfortable lies? Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Every untruth is an unkindness, even if it makes others comfortable.”
- “It’s nearly impossible to blaze one’s own path while following in someone else’s footsteps.”
- “To me, faith is not a public allegiance to a set of outer beliefs, but a private surrender to the inner Knowing.”
- “This is the most revolutionary thing a woman can do: the next precise thing, one thing at a time, without asking permission or offering explanation.”
- “I looked hard at my faith, my friendships, my work, my sexuality, my entire life and asked: How much of this was my idea?…Who was I before I became who the world told me to be?”
- “Bring all yourself to life and if you’re told you’re too much- smile and think; maybe. Or maybe their capacity is too small.”
- “Faith is not a club to belong to, but a current to surrender to.”
- “Angry is only a dirty word to folks who are very interested in maintaining status quo.”
- “Just do the next right thing. One thing at a TIME. that’ll take you all the way home.”
- “We must do what we need to do. Those who disapprove will either come around or stop coming around. Either way, Lovely.”
- “Nice is a peace keeper. Honest is a peacemaker.”
- “Be confident because you are a child of God. Be humble because everyone else is too.”
- “The only person on Earth you must answer to is yourself in the stillness.”
- “There’s no glory except straight through your story.”
- “I don’t believe in advice. Everybody has the answers right inside her, since we’re all made up of the same amount of God. So when a friend says, I need some advice, I switch it to, I need some love, and I try to offer that.”
I liked this book despite its glaring flaws. She is a work in progress that much is clear, and having written a very different memoir four years ago from this current one, she’ll be modulating this one in her next one four years from now. While it doesn’t go very deep, I think this book scratches the surface of things worth thinking about.
I personally don’t feel like I need any permission to trust my deepest knowing, but other people I know are clamoring to be encouraged out of their cages, and to be released into their fully wild, best selves. If you are one of those, you might want to read this unique book. I give it four stars.