What a Real Man Wants

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I took the pain and I wrapped it in a ball. I swallowed the ball and buried it deep inside me, so deep it could not even cast a shadow on the wall of my forever filling room of internal horrors. Yet still my mouth filled with the remembered flavors of a man’s body, gagging me. I grew bulimic, trying to throw up my loss of innocence along with the memories I could not process because what happened, happened before I could talk. Preverbal rape doesn’t have to leave a mark, and the man doing it can tell himself, “It’s okay, babies don’t remember.” So, I grew and I gagged on the remembered scents and flavors I could not understand because I did not know men yet.

But I knew my body was not my own. It was an owned thing, a marketable thing, a bought and sold thing if only I stayed slim enough, pretty enough, pliant enough, quiet enough, young enough because these things are what a real man wants. I knew real men. They came home on their lunch breaks and pointed their wives in the direction of the bedroom and then rode them like two-dollar ponies at a fun fair. One wife prayed. All the kids watched through the key hole. “They’re going to make another baby,” my friend giggled when it was my turn to look. I never looked again. This wife’s praying hands ended my childish voyeurism because I could feel the desperation and despair as she lay there, eyes closed tight, her lips mouthing words only God could hear.

 When I was six my mother said my face was beautiful and that my breasts would be set wide and that men would like that. She ran her fingers down my sternum, measuring the width with finger and thumb. I was already being groomed for market. She taught me how to look up and smile through my lashes, to act coy, because… Men would like that. She taught me to turn my head and smile in a leading way, and how to say just enough to start a conversation but then fade into smiling silence so the man had the floor to talk about himself. She taught me to lose at games, to wear heals that made me slow, and skirts that showed my perfect legs. And when I grew fat, she turned her focus on my sibling.

I am the lucky one in this story. Though my whole life has been shaped by misogyny I am the one who believed she got out, I’m the one who believed she built a family, I am the one who wrote romance novels that didn’t end in marriage, I raised my son to be a good man who respected women, and I am the one who believed I had honored my own voice fully and completely, yet never realized that I was so silenced by my culture that my screams for help where barley more than a whisper. Maybe in the end, I became that good wife pliantly pinned on her back, praying.

The Glass Slipper Illusion

The notion of the perfected woman has terrorized society for time out of mind. How many of us have tried to fit the glass slipper of perfection and then been heart sick to find it just won’t wear? Popular Culture thrives on the fragmentation of woman; it takes everyday girls and fractures their identity with the notion that they are not enough because they don’t look like the Barbie they grew up playing with. It tells them that they are either nice girls or naughty girls, girly girls or a tom boys, each label applied with a helping of judgment.

My friend Dianne told me that, “when we stopped binding woman’s feet we began binding their waists,” but I think this need to reconfigure women goes much deeper. I think it’s a fear based reaction to woman’s innate power, her place in the universal hierarchy and her need to survive a male dominated society. Women have spent several millennia trying to survive on their beauty and their wits. In the age when we had no voice our beauty spoke for us, our virtue was our strength, our husbands and fathers where our benefactors through which we were seen and heard.

Though the past is dead and Woman’s rights have pressed us into a new time we still cling to our ingrained notion that if we just look and act correctly we’ll be safe. Deep down I think woman’s perpetual dissimilation of self is a state of learned helplessness? We starve our bodies and hobble our feet with high heels while we dismantle our individuality in order to hide our human failings thus becoming someone else’s notion of acceptable. All of this striving after the intangible only serves to create a half human, a woman unprepared, unwilling and unable to deal with the rigor of a full and adventurous life.

I’ve spent my life watching the interactions between women. I’ve seen them tease and cajole, caution and command one another into fitting a mold established long before any of them were born. It’s dreadful the way we clip each other’s wings, call each other bitches and whores; siding time and again with our oppressors because we want to stay safe. Thousands of women fought against suffrage, thousands more stoned whores, millions have objectified and sold their daughters, millions more have turned away from their true selves in order to embody the ideal of what they were told a woman should be.

What is a woman? Isn’t she a spirit in form moving in a world teeming with experience? Didn’t God make her and doesn’t that simple fact make her just as worthy and brilliant as all his other worthy and brilliant creations? What is there that needs alteration? Why do we seek to conform what is already perfected when we live in a modern world where we can be more than just mother, whore, daughter or crone. We are as divinely crated as men! We came into this life to live, thrive and celebrate all our innate perfections and imperfections, not just as beautiful individuals but also as a dynamic whole. When we label woman, when we objectify our sisters and daughters we make an assault on our very right to exist. Only through loving and supporting one another will we raise a generation that lives in true equality, without fear or a need to dissimulate everything we naturally are.

Please take a moment to read the below treatise, The War on Men Through the Degradation of Woman, by Jada Pinkett-Smith

How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eyes of an incomplete woman?

The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.

He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him 4 four children.

When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER outweigh love.

May we all find our way.

~ Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sinuous Magazine (http://www.sinuousmag.com/)

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