Be confident, appear competent,
but don’t be cocky or bossy or bitchy.
Be compassionate and nurturing, but
never be angry, tired, anxious, or depressed.
Be smart, but not too smart, or
men won’t like you (it’s important that they like you).
Be different, so you stand out, but not too different,
lest you be labelled “crazy” or seen as a threat.
Be sexy, but not too sexy, and have sex,
but not too much and not with the wrong people.
Be fashionable, but remember that what you wear
and how you look is an instruction manual for how to treat you.
Be fit, be happy, be healthy, eat right, get enough sleep,
but never forget that your body is not merely your own.
Be all things to all people: wife, mother, dutiful daughter,
nurse, breadwinner, confessor, forgiver, fuck toy, personal assistant.
Be the one who circumvents, then reinvents all the rules and
false dichotomies. Be the one who dares the rest to try.
Author’s Note: I feel like I should say that I did not write this directed at men, so much as I wrote it to be directed at prevailing culture. There are very good men who are just as peeved about these things as we women are, and culture holds them to false dichotomies and stupid, arbitrary rules as well. Both groups suffer under rigid gender binaries. Maybe I’ll write a sequel called “How to Be A Man,” exploring that.