Creative | Posted by Fran H on 01/18/2013

Feminism Is Not A Word We Use In Polite Society

They wanted to be blondes, all of them, at some point in their lives.

Natural honey or not, they believed when

Marilyn cooed, old, white male screenwriters her puppeteers,

“Gentlemen prefer blondes”

the line delivered with a seductive smile,

as Norma Jean Baker, a smart brunette who loved James Joyce,

drowned in her persona, hiding her soul with peroxide and carefully exposed necklines.

They hide themselves too, trying to be socially acceptable, swallowing their opinions along with the latest

dieting tea.

“Look like Barbie!” it promises on the box,

but Housewife Barbie, Mother Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Nurse Barbie,

traditional, safe occupations, nothing like Barbie’s

dangerous incarnations, President Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, CEO Barbie, Scientist Barbie, pushed to the sidelines, hidden under the bed, coated in dust. Nobody ever played with them anyway, little girls preferred soft cloth dolls

to high-powered briefcases and confusing gadgets.
“I’m too pretty for math”, their moose-embroidered shirts proclaim, and from an early age, they are tricked into believing it.

For them, feminism is over, a distant fight, a word too brash and confrontational to take up as a mantle.

They are taught to be soft, to shy away from arguments, to find high-powered jobs, and then abandon them for a life at home in the suburbs, waiting for their husbands to come home, playing with the children, lunching, going to book clubs and yoga classes.

As young women, they begin to carve whip-thin and muscular bodies as a vehicle to show off their success, the only trophy they will have, can have…

And motherhood, once a silent duty to be done while cooking in pearls, as Madison Ave’s vision of a perfect family went, is now a trophy too

I breastfed the longest!, they proclaim

My children take SAT prep at eight!

Sally got into the BEST kindergarten: Ivy League, here we come!

Jenny speaks three languages!

Brandon knows French better than English!

They pat themselves on the back, and shove the organic salad, kale and tofu, down their perfect throats.

The cage is different, but it limits women all the same.

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  • Jess @ at 1:04 pm, January 23rd, 2013

    Wow! That was such honest and incredible writing.

  • Bonnie @ at 11:36 pm, January 27th, 2013

    Fran, it takes a long time to break out of cages, all of us, but recognizing them is a major part and this expresses that moment powerfully and early. We need your insights as you move through all the amazing twists and turns ahead. Keep writing!

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