Happy International Woman’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I don’t want silly gifts, or manicures, or movie tickets. I don’t want free meals, or flowers, or bottles of wine. These are trappings, superficial gestures, perfumed distractions to keep me silent and docile. They won’t work.

Today, what I want is my say.

I’m a 43 year old woman, and the year is almost 2020. That means that I speak my mind. I won’t defer to anyone for any reason other than respect. I won’t pander, or submit, be passive, or smile for you because it makes you feel nice. I am not a decoration. I have a voice, and I like to use it. So if you, man or woman, are so easily shaken by a woman speaking up and speaking out, I would like to suggest that you stay home and pull the covers over your head, because it’s too scary for you out here.

I won’t live by your stupid ideas of modesty. I want the concept of modesty to die a swift death. I won’t cover my fat, dimpled thighs or my big breasts because they make you feel uncomfortable. I won’t hide them when I breastfeed my babies because you can’t deal with the sight of me feeding my children. You are a grown up, life is full of discomfort and yours is your own to deal with. If you can’t handle it and find it so distracting that you are unable to properly function, then perhaps going out in public simply isn’t for you. Stay home.

I will express myself in a way that does not adhere to your primitive ideas of gender. I will act how I feel comfortable acting. I will not suppress parts of my character or personality or self expression because they do not align with the arbitrary borders that you have drawn regarding appropriate behavior for your rigid, binary gender definitions. If the foundations of your self perception and world view are so easily shaken that you find it necessary to laugh at, bully, harm, assault or kill anyone who threatens them, then I’m not sure that your psyche is robust enough to handle public life. Stay home.

I won’t try to tame my hair so it fits into your pretty little conceptual halo of womanhood. It’s my hair — keratin and dead skin cells. Its function is to prevent heat loss from my head. A long line of proud interbred Eastern European Jewry gave it to me and it’s mine, it’s mine, IT’S MINE and it’s wild, and you don’t get to reach out a hand and touch it unless you ask. And if I say no and you touch it, you may get your hand back missing a finger. My wild hair makes you uncomfortable? You cannot live without touching it? Perhaps you have some issues with impulse control. Can I suggest some therapy and also, until you’ve got these issues sorted — maybe just…stay home?

I want to walk down the street without having to hear your comments, your catcalls, your offers. I know exactly how I look, I don’t care how my looks make you feel, whether good or bad. If I don’t know you, I don’t want to hear your opinion. I am trying to get from A to B to C to D to E, just trying to make it through my mad days that are filled with caring for my daughters, loving my husband, managing my home, trying to make time for my family and friends, and succeeding at my job, and trying to feel relatively ok with myself by the time my head hits the pillow. I don’t want your compliments and I don’t deserve your insults. I don’t deserve to feel threatened when I’m on my way to buy some bread at the store. I don’t deserve to be insulted because I ignored your come ons. Just leave me alone. Does the way I look affect you so badly that you simply cannot stop yourself from commenting about it? Does it upset you that I have no obligation to respond to your unwanted opinion of my body and face and hair and dress, so much so that you feel it gives you the right to verbally or physically assault me? Then you are clearly not fit for public interactions and please, just stay home.

I want my daughters to be able to walk in the streets without my heart being gripped in a vice of fear because of the things that have happened to me and other women, just because they are girls. I don’t want girls and women to be prey anymore. So I beg you, if you cannot stop yourself from assaulting girls and women in any situation, no matter what they are wearing, or how they are behaving, or how much they have drunk, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE IN PUBLIC. Please stay home. (PS, if you do decide to go out and happen to harm one of mine, as long as I am alive no deity ever dreamed up throughout the history of the universe will be able to protect you).

I want to get paid well for my work and be appreciated in the workplace because I have amazing talents, not less because I have two X chromosomes. If you do this, your company will benefit from my abilities.

I want men and women to have easy access to contraception, and women to have access to safe abortions. I want everyone to understand that a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body and that some invisible sky father and his ridiculous emissaries have no say in it. So if you are delusional and believe that your arbitrary made up rules (which were dictated to you by a very petty fairy dreamed up by a mass hallucination) give you the right to tell me what to do with my uterus, I suggest you get treatment and yes, stay home until the meds kick in.

I want “feminine” traits to stop being called “feminine” and to stop being treated as a weakness. I want boys to grow up without being ashamed of their emotions, understanding that talking about their feelings and showing vulnerability is strength, not a weakness. Can’t handle seeing a man tell you how he feels? It shakes you to your very core hearing a man speak about his struggles? Admitting his pain? Dealing with his feelings? All too much for your fragile idea of masculinity? Oh sweet little dear, get your sh*t together or just stay home.

I want the domain of child-rearing and home management to fall squarely on ALL the shoulders of the parents in a home (one, two, three or seven parents — however you choose to build your family). Can’t handle the idea of having to be a partner in caring for your own children and running your home? Grow up and get some adulthood.

I will not apologize for the space I take up. I was born to this world, I have as much right to walk in it as anyone else, no more and no less. I will not try to reduce myself, or make my abilities, intelligence and talents appear smaller because they may make you feel threatened. If I am too much for you, and your sense of self is so fragile, so easily shaken by my presence, then I would like to suggest, in the most arrogant and non-humble way possible, that you simply stay home.

My brand of feminism is not sweet, or accepting, or tolerant. It’s angry and demanding. If you decide to share your opinion with me, you can expect to hear mine. So whether you are a man or woman who subscribes to the arcane, primitive, brutal, simplistic, destructive concepts inherent in the patriarchy, either adapt, or accept that this new world is perhaps not for you, and just. stay. home.

Happy International Woman’s Day.

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