The Soul of a Woman

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I can’t say I did much.

But I think the point is that women, as a collective, do so much to prove themselves that it’s alright that we take one day out of the year to do nothing. There’s all these seminars about bettering yourself and book talks about how you can be the perfect wife or girlfriend or best friend and there’s not much telling women to just be themselves.

So, today, in honor of International Women’s Day, I want to tell all women, yes all women, whether you identify as a woman, or not, that you are a woman and that’s enough. Strong, brave, clever, passionate. You are all these things because you are a woman. It comes with the territory.

Because that’s how you should define women. Not what’s between their legs. But the strength of what beats in their chest.

So, if that’s you, then celebrate IWD with everything you got. You’re woman. And you  should be proud.

 

 

(F)e-mail

Everyone knows that there’s a double standard in the workplace between men and women. And if you don’t know, you A) have never worked with the opposite sex or B) truly don’t know there’s a double standard, so you shouldn’t be reading this blog. You should be reading every feminist text you can find.

But let’s just say that we’re all on the same page, and we’ve all noticed that men and women are treated (and paid) differently at work.

Where are the differences most evident? In promotions? In conversations at the water cooler? In the lunch room?

No, it’s in our e-mails.

When I first started working, I wrote e-mails that had sentences with question marks implied at every turn.

They looked like this:

Hello?

Um, excuse me? Do you mind doing the thing that you said you were going to do four weeks ago? I know you must be busy, but I’m sorry, do you think you could get it to me? When possible? Thank you? I really appreciate your work? Thanks for not yelling at me?

And yes, maybe that’s just because I am a very timid and shy person to begin with. But I’m also a woman. And I feel the same at work that I do in daily life: like I’m not meant to be there and I’m taking up space. My e-mails reflect that.

And this is a sentiment embedded in women since the day that we are born. Chimamanda Adichie points out in her book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, that little girls are constantly pulled back by their mothers, asked to “play nice” and “sit still,” whereas little boys are given free rein of the playroom. (And what is an office but an adult playroom? Where we are all free to interact with our surroundings and work on what we are best at?)

So, what do my e-mails look like now? They’re still nice. I understand that it’s not fair to take out my frustrations on an unsuspecting stranger. And as sad as it is to say, people do respond more nicely when you are nice to them in the first place.

But I beat around the bush a lot less. I ask. And in very rare and desperate times, I even plead. I do not demand. I’m not as confident in myself yet. But maybe someday, I’ll conquer my inbox in the same way that the vikings took new land: completely.

Comparable

How did you read the title of this blog post?

Did you read it as “compare-able”? As in, oranges and apples are not “compare-able” because they are obviously two different fruits, you knucklehead?

Or did you read it as “comprable”? As in, these M. Night Shyamalan movies are “comprable” because they both have terribly obvious “twist” endings.

I know, I know. The second pronunciation is correct, but for whatever reason, I say these words in different ways depending on my meaning. To me, “comprable” is something lesser. If something is “comprable,” you are compromising by choosing it. It’s like saying,
“I’ll have both if it makes you happy, but I’d really like the first one.” Whereas “compare-able” means something like, “Those two things are the same, and it doesn’t matter to me which one you pick.”

And quite literally, this is semantics…that I’ve made up in my head. There is some perceived distinction in wordplay within this word for me that isn’t there at all.

And yet, this word has completely ruled my life in an imaginary way. Until today.

Okay, here it is, plain and simple: I am a human, and so I compare myself to other humans. Not in a “why is she so rich and perfect and I’m not,” way. More like, “why am I so awkward, I just said “I’m good” when she didn’t say “how are you?” way. And so, I’m constantly wondering if people find me “compare-able,” as in someone similar to a person they have met before, but generally a dime a dozen, or if I am “comprable,” meaning that they could be hanging out with someone much cooler, but they’ve lost interest in their own life and they might as well compromise their best interests before they come to their senses.

But I realized something today: when you are truly yourself, when you are really who you are inside and out, you can’t be comparable or comparable. Because there is no one that will ever be exactly like you and you’re not compromising anything when you can be yourself.

And suddenly, the pressure was off. I didn’t have to think about being too this or too that. I could just be me, and there were no words to describe me, whether they had multiple pronunciations or not.

Because when you defy the boxes and labels that people try to put you in or on you, some members of the outside world become frightened or confused. But most people? They’re just dazzled that you have the confidence to be yourself. And they haven’t got any notion of what you were once or what you should be. You’re just you. And they’re speechless.

I Can’t Even

Author’s Note: I’m sorry about the lapse, absence, and neglect that has occurred on this blog. It was truly not my intention. But alas, life happened. I hope that I will greet you with more regularity in the future. I say “hope” because that is all I can offer as of now. 

 

I think us ladies have come a long way from “damsels in distress,” right? I mean, we’ve overcome some serious oppression (which was basically meted out to us by the fashion industry that put us into those uncomfortable petticoats and weird shoes). Now, we can vote, wear pants, and think for ourselves (the horror!). We’ve burned a few bras and generally raised hell in the name of equality.

So, why is there still stuff we (women) “can’t” do? (I use the word “can’t” very liberally, mind you.) I mean it more in the way that why aren’t we taught to do all of the same stuff? Forget breaking glass ceilings, why can’t we rip down the curtain that separates the sexes?

Because whether we like it or not, there are commonly certain tasks that are simply relegated to the male or female sex and so are passed over when one individual is provided with an education, either formal or otherwise.

I’ve become painfully aware of this since moving out with my fiancee. I pride myself as a woman who isn’t afraid to do a job that is generally perceived as “man’s work,” or whatever that means in the 21st century (which is a statement that I know subjects me to the same sexist ideals I’m trying to fight.) But the thing is that I never really learned a lot of those tasks, or was really interested in learning them, for that matter.

I don’t know how to hammer nails, for instance. Not that it’s particularly hard, but for some reason, my father was always in charge of such things. Wiring wires and screwing screws. These were simply things that I had missed, gaps as sure as the holes in the walls that my father used to make. And if I needed to do these tasks, it was easy enough to ask him to help or to do it for me.

But that was then. Now, nothing on this Earth makes me more frustrated–feeling like I can’t do something because some type of biological obstacle is in my way, either real or perceived. (Men are stronger, women are more adept at conversation, blah blah blah). But what’s really bothering me is that I feel ignorant for not trying to learn. For accepting the fact that someone (some man, perhaps, although I’d never voice it that way) would come along and help me do whatever it was that I needed doing. That I can’t even because I had never wanted to.

And maybe that was the right use of wording before…”pride.” Maybe I’m just being prideful by not wanting anyone to help me. But I also think that it’s quieter than that. A small discovery of not my own physical weakness (I can swing an axe if I tried, I think?), but a weakness of the mind, thinking that I didn’t need to try and learn.

Because although I hate being ignorant, I hate being helpless so much more.

And so, it is high time to leave off the stays of oppression of my mind, in which I simply wait to be rescued. It’s time to let down the rope (or my hair, whichever is available) and worry not about ceilings, but climbing down off pedestals to have level ground to stand on.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be a Witchy Woman

You can keep your zombies, Walking Dead. And you can most definitely keep your vampire and werewolf boyfriend, Bella Swan. I’ll keep my brains and heart so that I can trade it for some eye of newt.

That’s because every Halloween, I relish the time that I spend watching witch movies and shows. From Practical Magic to Charmed, witches are a key component of our October festivities, and for good reason. Hollywood has recently portrayed witches as the full feminine package: beautiful and powerful. Who wouldn’t want the ability to turn an ex-boyfriend into a ferret? And then be able to wear a lot of black leather wherever they want? Turns out that women can have it all, as long as they practice the craft. Seems a lot easier than selling your soul to the devil, which witches don’t do, by the way.

So, to pay homage to one of my favorite aspects of Halloween, here are five characteristics that should make you proud to call yourself a little witchy:

1. You’re Probably Different/Beautiful/Cool: You may have heard this version of history: Witches were burnt at the stake when they practiced “magic” in the community. The definition of “magic” might vary from acts of seduction toward other women’s husbands or even to the loss of crops to blight or inclement weather, imaginary or real. In fact, if you read (or most likely spark-noted) The Crucible in high school, you may be nodding in recognition at this description of the witch.

However, in many cases this was not so. More often, cruel women in the community who had  influential hubbies got jealous of other women and forced their spouses to make trouble for their target by deeming them a witch. Usually, the subject of this torment was unusual in some way. Typically, they were beautiful or particularly nice, or had some other beguiling trait that left other husbands in the community wanting to stir her cauldron, if you catch my witchy drift. This did not sit well with their wives, for obvious reasons, and the woman in question was promptly barbecued. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time in history that we feared and killed something that we actually admired. (I’m looking at you, Native Americans.) So, in short, there are two lessons in this: don’t hate on fellow women just because they are prettier/nicer/smarter than you. We must be a united front against the patriarchy. And secondly, if you’re called a witch, you are probably awesome. And better yet, someone has noticed your awesomeness, and wants very much to dethrone you. Don’t let them.

2. Witches Don’t Need a Better Half: Everybody has a friend who dates their significant other simply because they are afraid to be alone. That’s an entirely different blog post subject in itself, but luckily, witches don’t need such creature comforts. In fact, in most Hollywood adaptations, the witch in question has had historically bad relations with men, and have generally rejected the male race in general.

Simultaneously, men typically fear the witch because she is an emblem of pure feminine power: she can take care of herself, and he could fall unwillingly under her spell. If you don’t interact with men, or haven’t tried to take the remote control from them, you should know that they really like to be in control, so you can understand why this role reversal might freak them.

For me, as an extreme feminist, scaring and swearing off men sounds great. To you, a potentially sane person, this might sound a bit lonely in the relationship department. Fear not. Go on to #3.

3. Your Sisters Have Your Back: When you’re in a coven, you can be sure that your witch sisters will always be there for you if you cry or die. All witches have an extensive line of sisters and aunts to raise their daughters and avenge their deaths, or so Hollywood tells us. So, when you grow up witch, you can be sure that you will have plenty of back-up for your highs and lows. Consult the grimoire, and then cry into Aunt Zelda’s shoulder, Sabrina. You will always have the support that you need, and it’ll probably come in 3’s.

4. You’re Not a Cat Lady-You Just Have a Lot of Familiars: Are you worried that the local news will come to your house in about 30 years because you have been eaten by a horde of your “precious kitties” after you ran out of Friskies? You might not need a crystal ball to know if this will be your fate, but that doesn’t mean that you have to turn away animals altogether. Witches often seek the counsel of their furry friends, so why shouldn’t you? Just keep plenty of kitty litter around. Also, remember the party rule: if you can’t see all of your guests at once in one room, there’s too many people. This rule also applies to the number of cats you own at one time.

5. You Can Be Yourself: Aside from pretending that you are normal and not a witch so that people will not suspect you of being what you are, you can be exactly who you are. And even then, people will probably figure it out, so why hide it? You should always express yourself, witch or not. So, dance naked under the moonlight, and do you.

Want to read more about witchcraft? Check out this Huffington Post article!