Pssshhhh. You thought I could separate it? That’s a j/k if I ever heard one. We’re not talking about funding for potholes here. We’re talking about the human, emotional, painful, mental, physical, societal, cultural, racial, financial, EXTREMELY political, and dare I say phenomenal experience that is having a vagina.
It took six days for my mom to die, and in that surreal fog of a week, I have never been more convinced that women should rule the world. They should have been ruling the world all along. Men reading this might take offense to that, but I’m not saying it as a diss. I admire men’s ability to do a lot of things, like aim urine, simplify thoughts, and walk alone late at night without fear of being raped. I wish I could do all of those things. I realize I’m making gross generalizations, but fuck it, I don’t want to talk about men anymore. I want to talk about how women astonish me, especially in crisis. Because as Jacqulyn Kay White feebly yet ferociously exited the earth for six straight days, it was the women (young and old) who stared skin-stretching, bed-shitting, bile-spitting, throat-choking death in the face for hours at a time. Our tears flowed, our bodies ached, our hearts mourned, but we sucked it up and hunkered down.
We were cooing voices drowning out death rattles. Soft palms on furrowed brows. Cool lotion on hot hands and warm socks on cold feet. We were casseroles and sandwiches. We were morphine syringes and clean towels. We were baby wipes and adult diapers. Scooped fingers in a mouth full of mucous. Floor sleepers and turn takers. We lifted boxes and furniture. We cried like babies at gas pumps and walked like zombies through grocery stores.
We asked questions and listened intently. We hugged and held hands. We knew when to make ourselves scarce. We knew when to make ourselves known. We gave assignments. We took direction. We made plans. We made compromises. We made amends.
We let go. We hung on. We let go. We hung on. We let go.
Women do it all right, but we’ve done it all wrong. ALL THIS TIME. We don’t need the praise to participate or the raise to contribute. We quietly accomplish without recognition or reward because the motivation lives inside of us. She’s there, shining and splendid and unscathed. She gives without grumbling and takes without trampling. She laughs at money, ignores power, spits at greed, and demolishes false idols. She’s most likely God herself.
What if we revealed her to the world all at once? What if we trusted our sons with her knowledge and abilities? What if, on simultaneous worldwide display, she provided not a trivial beacon of hope, but a universal benchmark of compassion, strength, grace, and character? What if weapons and war and rape were as unacceptable to her as she is to men? What if she was no longer a passionate request? What if she never needed permission in the first place? What if she was an unapologetic, unnegotiable demand?
I imagine my mom reading this and rolling her eyes because the word feminist tasted bad in her mouth and because her God had a penis, I think. But she managed to create two of the nastiest women I’ve ever met, so as far as I’m concerned, she’s Betty fucking Friedan.