Sunday, 10 July 2016

"No" is one of the hardest things to master. Especially for a woman. Especially after the experimental self-assertion of age two of toddler existence.

Who wouldn't want to be pleasing? Who wouldn't want to say yes to every bit of teeming life in this world?

And yet in order to embrace the world with sustainable energy and enthusiasm, a lot of dead skin has to be sloughed off.

Here is a poem I wrote on the subject:


Let me acknowledge this darkness, its pain and its fears.

Let me report what I have seen in this world I have chosen to love.

Let me say this:

no to the woman with the bandaged gash on her forehead serving her husband at the dinner table

no to the woman kneeling in her pew in her best Sunday hat in preparation for being insulted from the pulpit

no to the woman with daintily crossed ankles waiting for someone, anyone, to ask her to dance

no to the woman doctor refusing to prescribe birth control unless the girl’s pious parents sign for it

no to male egos that love to be coddled by women’s love and then despise the lovers for loving

no to greedy women who make it even more difficult for the rest of us

no to genital mutilations, physical and emotional

no to the stranglehold on all of our desires

no to prurient Lolita worship

no to good-natured Molly Bloom contempt

no to everything that forces us to choose between prudery and promiscuity

no to women who refuse to be feminists, even though that includes beauties like Doris Lessing and Mary Oliver, whom I love

no to the concept of post-feminism—it isn’t over until beauty sings

no to a mother being expected to suffer and then smile anyway

no to people who want us to smile and get over it rather than reporting our pain

no to the teenage brother whose ears turn pink at his sister’s first period

no to embarrassment

no to an orthodox Jewish men’s prayer that thanks god for not having created them women

no to the newly married woman who gives up teaching because her husband’s religion forbids that any woman should teach any male, even a little boy in pre-school ballet

no to the anger that half of the human race is so accepting of the status quo that would make me and mine be his servants in hell rather than having an equal in heaven

no to women dwindling upon marriage out of kindness

no to women earning jewels and mansions and political office by cajoling the status quo

no to giving less importance to preparing a woman for childbirth than to preparing men for killing other mother’s children

no to the discomfort of having to say no

no to the religions of nothingness, nirvana, the next life, this life nailed to the cross or being dismissed as illusion

I am not an illusion and my day is dawning. I will praise it and the beauty I will find.

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