Woman. Female. Feminine. She. Her.
Nouns, an adjective and pronouns for the Other Sex.
The Weaker Sex? She Who Must Be Obeyed?
My mother was one of the few divorcees and working mothers of her generation.
My grandmother was a free spirit, a flapper when "bad girls" were wild, bathtub gin was their chosen beverage and there was more "free love" than was commonly admitted. (Especially in Kansas. Ask one of Grandmother's five husbands.)
My great grandmother was a formidable woman, who ran a farm and most of the men on it. (And still had a sense of fashion, if I can believe the bustle-bedecked formal portraiture of her and my grandfather, a much more handsome man than she was beautiful. Which leads one to believe he must have married her for her strength.)
I'm going through one of my probably-hormone-induced phases of just loving being a woman.
I was a white-ankleted, plaid-jumpered little girl in the fifties. I was a overalls-wearing, braless hoyden in the sixties. I was my version of Jane Fonda in the seventies, Princess Di in the eighties, my own bad self in the nineties and now I find myself in the best years of my life, in this first decade of the 21st century.
What are these best years like? Well, there's a matter-of-fact sexuality to it, for one thing. No coyness, no pretense or fakery about being a female. I am one, I like me for it ... and I like men for their vast difference from me. I don't need or want either of us to be anything else.
And there's a strange, intense delicacy to who I am. I am very aware of my physicality -- maybe in the sense that a candle's flame is highest and strongest before it extinguishes (Don't Cry for Me, Argentina!). Although I am small and fragile in some ways, I am so strong right now.
Oddly, this is a time that most reminds me of a poem by e.e.cummings, given to me when I was a freshman at Michigan. By a girl who was in love with me.
Neither of us knew what to do with her nascent lesbianism ... but now, so many years later, I am still grateful to her for seeing me the way she saw me. The way I see myself today. (Patti, thank you.)
somewhere i have never travelled,
gladly beyond any experience,
your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself
as Spring opens
mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,
i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
not even the rain,
has such small hands