we give up our power because
It has come to my attention, boys and girls, that some people are reading this as an autobiographical piece. It isn’t. It’s meant as general commentary, looking at the relationship between women and power, which, admittedly, I’m becoming kind of obsessed with (women + power + creativity). Okay? Okay!
We learned that we were pretty.
We learned that we were not pretty.
We starve to fit the skinny jeans.
We learned that skinny jeans = power.
We learned that being the hottest girl in the room = power
We learned that to please = power
And boys, especially boys
We learned what not to be:
too smart or ambitious or GOD FORBID competitive.
We learned to laugh when required and listen and applaud
We learned to disguise our boredom
We learned to stand on the sidelines
We learned that boys chasing us = power
We learned that being chosen = power
We learned that men are hunters and we should let them hunt us
(why else would they want us)
We learned that spending money on lipstick and shoes = power
We learned that men spending money on us = power
Because it means they love us
even when they don’t.
We learned our role is to serve
And show gratitude and ask for nothing
Otherwise we’re golddiggers
We learned to make excellent coffee.
We learned that we’re bad at math
and if we’re good at math we’re bad at personal finance
and if we’re good at personal finance we should still let the man
Deal with the money, or act and talk like he does
So people won’t think that he’s pussywhipped
We learned not to talk about money or care about money
Otherwise we’re golddiggers
We learned not to learn about money because it’s boring.
We learned to do housework and volunteer work and go into the arts.
We learned to wear pink uniforms.
We learned to be poor.
We learned that business is for businessmen
and if we go into business
We learned not to set our prices high
so people won’t feel bad ’cause they can’t afford us.
We learned not to push for first or value ourselves too highly
Otherwise we’re conceited or deluded
We learned to avoid confrontation
We learned that anger isn’t ladylike
We learned that when we fight it’s not tough and noble like when guys fight
It’s just a catfight
If we do it in mud they charge admission.
We learned that we’re supposed to be happy
Or strangers will tell us to smile
We learned to unplug from our pain and send it under
We learned to sneak and manipulate and cajole and charm and flatter
We learned to be the angel of the house
We learned to be the good wife
We learned our place.
Otherwise we were wrong, or wrong in the head
We learned that if women were as smart as men
where are the great female physicists and chess players
We learned that our talents are second-rate
We learned that we’re emotional, hormonal and crazy
We learned that our wombs are hysterical
We learned that our bodies belong to the public
And fathers + husbands + religions + governments
We learned to get off on getting them off
We learned to fake orgasms
And that sex isn’t really sex if we just have it with each other.
We learned that we don’t need feminism anymore
Because feminists hate men because they can’t get any
we’ve come a long way baby and what’s left to fight for
Except decent maternity leave
and a mate who doesn’t expect us to do most of the housework
Because his paycheck is bigger
Because we learned to work part-time or quit for the babies.
We learned to be guilty.
We learned that working moms are bad moms and evil.
We learned that the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world
although it doesn’t.
We learned that we’re doctors and judges and district attorneys now
and what’s left to fight for but The Bachelor.
We learned that power is only sexy in a man
We learned that women with power are freaks with bad haircuts
And doomed to die alone
Unless they put up with philandering husbands.
We learned that landing a powerful man = power
Even though it’s his and he takes it back at will.
We learned that somewhere out there was a prince who would save us
Even if he works all the time and is damaged or abusive
We learned that his work is important and worth sacrificing for and ours is not.
We learned that his time is valuable and ours is not.
We learned to play small and be small.
We learned that power hurts and we shouldn’t want to want it.
We learned to fight for the rights of others.
We learned to fight for ourselves and almost win – then step back, turn away
in love with the so-called enemy
We learned not to be inconvenient.
We learned the old stories, the marriage narratives, the fairy tales
We learned that we lack their replacements.