girls




Girls have a reputation
for talking too much
for caring about stupid shit
like dolphins
and split ends

for manipulation
for resentment
for passive aggression
for feelings, lord,
bleeding curtains of stormy feelings

for respecting women
who are not beautiful
and suspecting women
who are.

Girls get a raw deal,
I think.

Just now.
That.

Girls say
I think
rather than
This is true.

Maybe because
we think
we have to
in order to avoid being
abrasive.

Maybe because
we think
it's easier for people to smile at opinions than facts.
It's nice to make someone smile.

Girls are aware
early on
there is danger in being outweighed
there is a price for being outspoken
there is a time when it's ok to be outsmarted.

My 7th grade math teacher divided us into boys versus girls for an algebra relay race.
On the blackboard, he wrote "Boys" on one side, and on the other side, "The Weaker Sex."

That school cost
significantly more than the state university
per year.
He was joking
I think
and perhaps inviting a person
to prove him wrong.

But all the boys laughed and jumped out of toppling chairs to high-five each other
and the girls exchanged open-mouthed silences,
sitting,
frozen as a colony of shocked squirrels.

Hot-cheeked, I picked up my chair
and carried it to the door.
I placed my chair just over the threshold and sat
with my back to the class.
The teacher told me to come back inside.
I sat still.
I wasn't very good at math anyway.

Girls have a very specific set of skills.
Generally speaking,
most girls I know have a
dependable
crowd-pleasing
side dish they can bring to a dinner party,
a
sweet
soft
sinful
cookie recipe in case of afternoon company,
and a
virtuous
nourishing
salad in case there's a barbeque.

Most girls I know have an unconscious defense mechanism
when faced with a threat
or a douchebag.
Most girls I know make themselves smaller
and less
like the first Billy Goat Gruff:
"who, me? I'm just a little nothing. You don't want me, Mr. Troll."

Most girls I know have a friend who starves.
Most girls I know have a friend whose boyfriend is cheating.
Most girls I know have a friend who has been hit.
Most girls I know have a friend who has been raped.
Most girls I know would talk for hours about these things in a room of women.
But not
if men were around.
We wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable.

Girls have to be careful
when they walk places
or answer the door
and also when they compose their emails.

My boss once told me that I could be abrasive.
He wasn't wrong
I guess.
I said, "can you give me an example of a time that my abrasiveness has impacted my work?"
and he said, "I can't think of anything right now."
I said, "I'll follow up with you on this. I would hate to think that I'm unintentionally offending 
anyone."
He said, "actually, right now is an example."

Girls don't get hungry
until they're starving.

It's awesome to watch a thin girl eat a whole pizza.
It's annoying to watch a thin girl eating a single carrot stick.
It's embarrassing to watch a big girl eat a whole pizza.
It's sad to watch a big girl eat a single carrot stick.

Girls eat vengefully.
Have you noticed this?
Girls eat salads for revenge on their shorts.
Girls eat cheeseburgers for revenge on their judgmental great-aunts.

I once gagged while eating a slab of carrot cake that I did not want
because an elderly relative had patted my leg with her dry hand
and reminded me that I'd soon need to fit into my wedding dress.
Boy,
I showed her.

Girls feel like old news
I think.
Or at least I do.
Still? Still, we're talking about 
girls
as if we don't know them?
As if the hundreds of years of dialogue
about women
just here,
just in this country,
were on some other station
and you're just now tuning in
but we've been talking about it
for
ever
and I'm tired of talking about Girls.

I'm tired of waiting outside an office
where I know someone will look at me
with an incredulous face
and say
but you can vote
and work in any job
and nobody is going to try to kill you for your family's honor
or anything like that.
For God's sake,
Miss,
what more do you want?
We're not the thought police.
We can't legislate what's in people's heads.

Just what's in their wombs, then?
Just the part that belongs only to girls?

We're not hungry until we're starving.
We don't want to make anyone uncomfortable.
We're not sure how not to be abrasive.

Girls have a reputation 
for holding a grudge
for drinking Chardonnay
for feelings
bleeding curtains of stormy feelings

for snapping at their children
for sleeping their way up
for crying
for talking too much
about stupid shit
like dolphins and split ends
and babies.

Actually,
right now is an example.

My son told me yesterday
that if he were a worm
and could pick which to be
he'd rather be a girl
when he's alone
but a boy the other times.
I asked him why, and he said
"Girls are really strong 
but they always wait. 
I'd like to be strong 
like a girl. 
But it seems really hard 
to be a girl."

I've seen the girls in his class
and he's right.
They are strong.
They're organized, too. 
They have plans
and execute them
as a team.

And when the snacks come out,
they sit, exchanging silent glances 
while the boys topple their chairs.

I didn't realize 
it took only three years to learn.

He's right. 
It's really hard.


photo at the top of the blog comes from 
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers
a moving story about a Girl

2 comments:

  1. I think really put together a good piece. Very interesting to read from beginning to end. I can tell you've done a lot of analyzing about girls. I hope you make one about boys/guys from your perspective over time.

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