How to Be A Woman

Self-Portrait. Taken 10/5/2012. Canon Rebel XS.

Self-Portrait. Taken 10/5/2012. Canon Rebel XS.

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.

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To Write Brave

Writing.

Writing. Taken 1/22/2014. Canon Rebel XS.

I want to write brave, but I’m afraid of what they’ll think. I am afraid they will not consider artistic license, will just assume that it’s all true. (But, of course, in a way, it is all true. Even if it didn’t happen in this time on this plane, it is true under the skin where it counts. The words had to come from somewhere.) I am afraid, because approval is currency, and they say you can’t afford to lose any currency these days.

So I think about writing under another name, but it doesn’t smell as sweet. It doesn’t feel like me. My name does. In Hebrew it means “tie or bond,” or, in some translations, “tied or bound.” My parents gave me a Hebrew name plucked from the Bible because Dad thought it would make me a good their-kind-of-Christian. (I am not. I have long dwelt in the house of quiet rebellion.) I so often feel tied, bound…Bound to a mask that never fits right and doesn’t quite fool anyone, though they’re not sure what I’m hiding. (Sometimes, even I am not quite sure what I’m hiding.)

I want to write brave, to lay the words out in rows, sometimes bolded, IN ALL CAPS. I want the words to throw the shutters open, let in the sun’s rays. I want to write it all under my true, full name. I know that I am not alone in anything the words may say, that somewhere there is someone who has lived and feels and thinks the same way, and if I let the words out into the wider world to play we will feel less alone. We may even feel at home, like kin sitting on an antebellum porch, trading stories and laughing at the end of the day.

But, right now, I am only a little brave.