Women are taught from the day we are tiny bundles in our mother’s arms that our bodies are nothing but pocket change for man to squander.
“Don’t talk too loudly.
Don’t hunch your shoulders.
Suck your stomach in, push your breasts up,
Laugh at every joke he tells; whether or not his jokes have a misogynistic undertone and/or threaten your right to exist.”
Growing up, I never understood this. It never made sense to me why my my grandmother would only speak when she was told to, why she only ate in small portions, why she’d fill her belly with blood and wine and cigarette smoke and tears she’d swallow back when her husband threw empty dishes at her.
I wanted to say something, begged her to say anything instead of coating herself in a thicker layer of rouge and foundation and lipstick and lies. But she didn’t. She’d smile and tell me that this was the way it’s meant to be. That this, this empty shell of marriage was how women were destined to be loved.
How could this be true?
I am a person, not an object.
I am created out of stardust and atoms and water and life that explodes in my eyes, not plastic.
Women are not plastic.
We are not meant to be broken over and over and over by dirty hands.
We are not dirty.
We are not meant to be scrubbed, shaved, painted and polished to fit a social construct, a cult of domesticity, or a role otherwise handed to us.
We are so much more than that.
We are the ones who kept the family from starving when our husbands were digging trenches and fighting wars that our country had no business fighting.
We are the ones who filled empty jobs, scraped by on nothing but beans and poisoned meat so that our posterity might know the difference between survival and arrival.
We are the ones who fought until our knuckles bled for public education.
We are the ones who screamed until our throats were hoarse, vocal cords covered in a thick layer of dust, until our bodies could no longer stand at the podium, so that people in the minority could vote.
We are the ones who created Rosie the Riveter, a champion and someday symbol for women’s rights.
We are the ones who keep fixing, cleaning, raising, evolving, fighting, for change that we cannot yet see.
We are the ones who kept man from extinction.
And yet, the patriarchy still mutes the demands of the matriarchy?
“Too leftist liberal to function”? Probably.
But I cannot fathom a world where the lion is depicted as the lamb;
Where the sun that keeps an entire universe from collapse is somehow conditioned to think that they are but a mere speck of dust in the galaxy;
Where the very air in my lungs will not yet be enough to crush the crippling social construct that woman equals housewife, that woman equals fragile, that woman equals safe. That being a woman is somehow the safer option, that being a stay-at-home mother is all these calloused hands are capable of.
These calloused hands kept man’s sorry behind out of the belly of the whale,
These calloused hands kept man’s beaten brain out of the hands of those who may manipulate it,
These calloused hands kept man’s misogynistic superiority complex in check by picketing for nearly seventy years for the amendment that would change everything.
These calloused hands are not done,
These calloused hands know the battle before them has not come full circle,
We have not won yet,
Have not seen a time where all women and men would get paid on a 1:1 ratio,
Where women would understand the power that their heart pulses throughout their entire body yet,
Where a woman’s shoulder can be revealed in public because the woman’s body is not an item of sexualization, but rather function, of life to our newborns, of necessity,
Where these calloused hands are recognized to be equally full of living paycheck-to-paycheck and hard times and triumph and grit as a man’s.
See, women are taught from the day we are tiny bundles in our mother’s arms that our bodies are nothing but pocket change for man to squander.
But recognize this:
We are so much more than pocket change.
We are the whole bank.