He calls me a “modern woman”
And I am not stupid enough to take this as a compliment.
What he means is this:
I do not fit his view of the traditional woman.
The traditional woman is demure;
She blushes prettily when complimented.
She submits to her husband.
She does not have strong opinions
And never disagrees with him.
She will let him take the lead
And she will follow wherever he goes.
She is a beautiful work of art
For the husband to admire the shape of
But she lacks personality. She lacks
Me? I am the modern woman.
When he is wrong, I tell him.
I disagree with him.
I tell him off.
When he tells me he is a better driver because he is a man, I tell him that he is sexist.
I know that I am loud, headstrong, and unwavering in my beliefs.
I am rude. I break rules. I don’t understand boundaries.
He tells me there is something unattractive about women like me
And on some days, I believe him.
I worry that I am corrosive, aggressive, intense.
I feel the weight of this body:
Broad shoulders. Thick thighs. The fat lying across my hips.
This body jiggles.
It does not fit nicely in dresses.
Some days I leave the house
Only to retreat because my body tells me I am too ugly to go outside.
Some days I hate myself.
Some days I think that I am too strong
And that no man will ever love me
Without wanting me to change.
But there are heroines who are like me
There are women who give their opinions freely
Who stand up for themselves
Who will not submit to this idea of traditional.
There are women who challenge other
With their words, their actions, or their fists
They are women who do not choose tradition
But choose passion, career, excitement, adversity – the harder path.
These women can be found in books and on screens
In poems and on the city streets
In rural villages and in hospitals
These women have existed throughout history
And their endings were usually written for them.
So yes, my body jiggles.
It is imperfect and a bit broken
It causes me pain
I try to love it like a Christmas present given by an obscure not-quite-relative
That I will hide beneath the bed for years
Before letting out into the light of day.
My thighs are large
But they are also strong
When I’m running I don’t feel so ashamed of my body
Because I feel powerful.
He says he wants a woman who will submit to him.
I say I want a man who is my equal.
If I am strong, let a strong man love me
Let him know I am a modern woman.