Tuesday, February 9, 2010

women

Its vagina season
and this year i try to get into the spirit.
i even post eve ensler's speech about how girls can save the world as my facebook status
but the truth is, i didn't listen to the whole thing
the truth is i cringe when i hear the word "girl"
and i hate the fucking phrase "i'm an emotional creature"
even though i know i should embrace it and really like it
i even tried reciting some of eve's speech at a gathering of friends
but the truth is, i lied
i don't fully believe in that speech
i don't feel empowered by my vagina
and i know no matter how smart i get or how many degrees i may attain,
i know that aging will be the death of so many opportunities for me.
i sit in a writing workshop with all women, this time
all different ages but all with the same private parts
we are told to introduce ourselves i.e. our names and our goals
what are we planning on writing in this class?
like most first meetings, first classes, or first days of school
i sit quietly, observing, not speaking up
i see what i'm up against
and the fact that i see a room full of women as something i'm "up against" has its own problems,
i know
i'm aware of that
but that is what i hate so much
that i'm so fucking aware of it
and yet i don't know how to reverse my thinking, retract my gut instinct to judge them and size them up within the first few sentences they give me
i watch who talks too long
i watch who slumps
i watch her say her name and list her degrees as one sentence as if she alone cannot stand without them
i watch a grieving mother try to convince us that she is really okay and wants us to criticize her openly about the book she is writing on her daughter's murder trial
i watch a new york times reporter laugh at the idea that she can write a homework assignment by Friday
and i watch how half the room agrees with her, jumping on her band wagon because she has the coolest job in the room
i watch two teachers, one pretty one angry, one unassuming and one a declarative woman of color feminist, one smarter than the other
and i watch my teacher glance at me when she explains to the class that she thinks it is important to write about teaching because somewhere it has gone horribly wrong
she has students, grad students who don't know how to use different tenses, who are obsessed with the present tense and have read nothing
she looks again at me
yes i know that my grammar is atrocious
it might not have been so awkward if she had not announced me as an old student of hers at the beginning of class
now, they too know i don't know hot to put together a complex sentence
but even more than her glance which may have meant nothing is the hole burning through my bag with the weight of native son and the grapes of wrath
two books i checked out of the library yesterday in secret because i know these are books i should have read by now.
at the end of class i am stuck in an elevator with a former writer for the national enquirer and she asks me about our teacher
and i say she is really good, she is a tough critic
i equate tough with good
sometimes confusing pain with honor
she tells me she thinks the teacher was very supportive tonight and then she asks me if i think she really meant all the positive things she said
and this is why i hate women
i see her gaze shift and i know that i have walked into a trap
whatever i say next will inevitably be in danger of being misinterpreted, twisted and perhaps used as expository gossip when a few of these women drop out in a couple weeks
i am on the defensive already and its only been two hours with this group
i wonder if i can do this again
and i know that i can and that it will be uncomfortable
but maybe this time i will get a little farther in learning another thing or two about these emotional creatures.

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