The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About
De-escalation. Why… Why do I do it?
Maybe it’s because of my high school boyfriend who, on many occasions, beat 16-year-old Hollie black & blue because he was emotionally immature, untreated bipolar, and I wouldn’t back down.
Or let’s point to the little shit who, while waiting for my cue backstage at my high school musical, proclaimed me “Fuckable”, then proceeded to grab my breast. (Yeah, I hit him hard enough that when he smacked into the set it shook the entire production… As I’m sure I was heard yelling at him “You little fuck! You made me miss my cue!”)
Maybe we can point to the guy that was older than my father who would come to my eatery counter several times a week to make lewd requests of me while waving a $1 bill around (as if a $1 tip was going to somehow make him appealing), then wait by my car to make more aggressive and horrific suggestions.
Perhaps it was my female boss at that same job, who told 18-year-old me that it was probably nothing and to ask my boyfriend if he’d come hang out there at close if I felt uncomfortable, rather than offer help.
Maybe it was a different boss who, in later years, dinged me on my annual review because I wasn’t friendly enough when he came into my office. (When asked if we would have this conversation if I were a man, I was told probably not.)
Maybe the countless men & boys who didn’t want to take no for an answer and either shamed me (because, of course, I “was lucky that they even noticed me.” Because I was “fat,” “ugly,” “stupid,” “obnoxious,” or some other thing that made me too undesirable to love.) or who forcefully took what they wanted in one way or another are to blame.
Maybe it was the counselor who, when I explained that sometimes I feel out of place or upset by the way I’m treated by others, told me that I needed to try to be gentler. More docile. More feminine. People would like me better if I metered myself.
Perhaps it’s the well-meaning lover who told me to be something I am not so that his friends would like me more.
Maybe it’s the jerks who wrote slurs and epithets about made-up sexual encounters in Orange Day-Glow paint all over my car in the middle of the night.
And so many more…
For whatever the reason, I did this for eons. But I find it disgusting, aggravating, annoying, and stupid. That I should fear retribution for speaking my mind like a man? This is acceptable?!
That I should fear degradation, pain, maybe even death for telling you what I think? Especially when a man can walk into the street and say exactly what’s on his mind with little more than a cursory glance – this is okay with you?
Apparently it is, because none of us bother to talk about it. None of you stop doing it. Nobody seems to do a damn thing to stop it… Including me.
Except that I DO try. I tell little girls that they are worth more than that. I point out the inequalities. I try, desperately, to teach them to be accepting up to the point of where they might compromise themselves… I tell other women about the fantastic things they’ve done. I try to hold them up rather than tear them down, even though my background, upbringing, and even some role models would do the opposite. I try so hard to elevate the experience for them, for me… Because it’s my responsibility as a human being to elevate my situation and that of my children… And sometimes, I succeed in making them feel empowered. Helping them feel as if they have a say in how their life ends up. To eschew the marginalization and the general fear, uncertainty, and pain of it all…
But I often feel like a hypocrite. How can I tell these children the world is something it is not? How can I make the world bend to them rather than they bend to it? How can I do any of this if I compromise myself on a moment-by-moment basis each and every day? How can I stand up and tell them to be proud of who they happen to be and know that I altered my body by losing weight – sometimes in a very unhealthy fashion NOT because of health problems. (Even though I agree with people who state I am staving them off by losing all this weight verbally, internally I reserve that I HAVE NO PHYSICAL ISSUES FROM BEING FAT! What I have won’t be cured by losing weight.) Not because of joint aches, heart issues, diabetes, or any of the myriad problems associated with it and that I have none of… No. I did it to be pretty. To be accepted. To not be a “fat lady” joke anymore. To not be disrespected.
And why admire me for this?! I have done a million things more admirable than lose weight! I’ve done so many things deserving of compliments more than the size of my ass, the thinness of my neck, the cut of my clothes. (Not that I hate the compliments — Quite the contrary, I love the positive attention — But there’s more to me. So much more.)
- There’s my 165 IQ that used to make me (jokingly) referred to by my first REAL boss as The Human Calculator and by friends (seriously) as The Psychic. (Not any more – MS has stolen so much from me :/) An IQ and upbringing that led me to start reading at the age of 2 1/2. Big words. Newspaper words.
- Or maybe the fact that I was crushed in a car at the age of 18 and told I’d never walk without a walker or double canes ever again. That my left arm and hand were so badly damaged that I’d never use it properly again. The nerves, tore and stretched, would never allow me to open my fingers without using the other hand. That it would be impossible to carry a pregnancy full term, if to viability — YET I walk. I run. I dance. I play guitar. I sculpt. I carried TWINS almost full term.
- That 9 years ago I suffered an MS attack so horrific, one of the best neurologists in the city believed I’d be crippled, mentally deficient, or both within weeks. That the damage would be so replete that I’d have to have constant assistance to exist… That the nerve damage would never repair because we all know nerves don’t regenerate… BUT THEY DID! I’m one of the lucky very few that regenerate, sometimes not fully and not like they were before … but it comes back and IT REGENERATES WITHOUT HOLES!
That I’ve recovered from Bankruptcy and again own my own home. That I lead a Girl Scout Troop that is, at times, admired for the wonderful things they do. That I find time to work out almost every day. That I volunteer my time to help others. More… More… More… Those things are admirable.
And none of them are about what I look like, the weight I’ve lost, the physical manifestation of my soul…