There is a difference between hesitating and saying, firmly, no. What is the name for that place? I imagine it to be vast, to be full of women who said okay, who whispered it, or didn’t. I imagine it to be full of shadows, and a difficult place to leave.
I started writing this essay in Freiburg, in Roxane Gay’s non-fiction writing class, Beyond the Self. Now, it’s up at The Toast. It was shared on Scarleteen’s Facebook page. And Jess Zimmerman tweeted it and said, “Men are terrified of writing like this.”
It’s been a pretty wild day.
I think sometimes of all the bad things that could happen to me. Does anybody else do this? All the ways I could be hurt, the exact level and amount I could suffer, and survive.
Oh, look, I’m on The Toast.
Girls would be wild, instead of quiet and modest, and no one would want to marry them. The family would be destroyed. Men would become weak and effeminate. They wrote editorials fretting that cross dressing by women would cause social and moral chaos, ranting that that the differences between the sexes “would be obliterated.”
“Wearing the Pants” by Kathleen Cooper
We stood arranged in a gleaming white row, like teeth. Our hands were in gloves, our hair set into soft curls, and pinned with magnolias, lilies of the valley, and peonies. We laughed gently and smiled with surpassing sweetness, but the sweetness contained an edge of panic.