From A View From A Broad:
You know, I think being a feminist is exactly like being gay. It's something you can hide as long as you're willing to swallow all sorts of insults all day long till finally you have enough. So much of the stuff women face is just invisible---the way women's bodies get used to sell everything under the sun, the way women are required to starve themselves because we're not allowed to occupy too much space; the ways we get called bitchy when men are just assertive---all that stuff---that when you finally react to it there's a bunch of words that get tossed at you, too. We accept all that stuff and keep ourselves from noticing it, but boy, we sure notice when someone points it out.
People like Rick Santorum compare homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality, and others compare feminists to Nazis or else they call us man haters. It has the same purpose; it keeps us off balance, eternally trying to find our land legs in a world that just doesn't like us much. It's like we crawled onto land from the sea and we have to explain why our eyes see things differently, why we feel the sun strangely . . .
I was 17 years old and two weeks into a therapeutic, wilderness survival course when I said something - I don't remember what - that angered a popular, arrogant boy. He looked at me dismissively and said, "Skank."
I have struggled with beauty for what feels like my whole life. My mother often told the story of how she had to tape bows to my bald baby head, and people still thought I was a boy . . .
I have a tendency to forget compliments, so I've started keeping a written list. Because for every compliment, there is at least one criticism , and those are seared into my memory. Criticism is the wrong word, actually. What I mean to say is more like mean, hateful, ugly, trashing remark. These remarks are nearly always from men, although teenage girls can also be cruel.
I was walking through a mall, wearing a sleeveless sundress, when a trio of teenagers strolled toward me. One girl scanned my bare arms, then looked fearlessly into my eyes and said, "Ewww!" as they passed.
Beauty and weight are all mixed up for me; I've often suspected that even if I lost weight, I'd still be ugly . . .
I am reminded of frogs.
Frogs are very cool creatures. They eat bugs and make the most amazing sounds that always remind me of warm summer nights, down by the lake. However, frogs are not particularly intelligent, and their behavior is almost completely governed by outside stimuli . . .
While in Florida, though, surrounded by people with shielded minds, hidden thoughts, and past experiences and future hopes totally hidden from view, I was able to experience events at face value and just let them happen. I did not have to pay attention to the happiness or not of those around me; did not have dig deep to find the hidden meaning of every overheard word; did not have to react except at the most primitive, and immediately rewarding level . . .
I was surrounded by hundreds of people, thousands, and their voices became a soothing babble, and their faces, bright bits of animated confetti that swirled about me in a peaceful, colorful flow; slices of which I captured, from time to time, with my camera. In the nomenclature of frogs, it was all flies, all the time . . .
This is not a political post, not at least in an obvious manner. It is a post about words and what they do. What some words do, or perhaps all words when dressed in their secret fancy clothes or when they are moonlighting. The thing that words do which words cannot do, the reaching to something in us which is not intelligence or logic, which is not even emotions, and when the contact is made there is this enormous thunder and an opening and a realization of something instantaneously. And then a flow of understanding and the feelings that this particular understanding carries in its arms.
Poetry does this covert work often . . .
This is all for Trish, on her birthday.