Somebody else’s boyfriend once told me that I scare him, and my eyelashes were salty for weeks thereafter. I was fourteen. I don’t remember what I did to provoke those words; it may have been something disreputable, or not. But I remember that he said them with a judge’s inflection. That with these words he thought he could make me believe I was not only unattractive, but scary, and the very enemy to all things attractive. It was supposed to ruin me, and, for a time, it did. (Now, four years, later, I know that I am much better suited to be someone’s worst nightmare than someone’s manic pixie dream girl).
Everybody’s got something to say about my mother. That she’s “very comfortable in her own strength” is one of the more popular assessments. (A tactful, if ineloquent, way of saying “your mother scares me”). Now, whatever gripes I may have about my mother, as daughters tend to have, her brazenness is certainly not one of them:
She implemented a household ban on bad grammar when I was still a toddler, and has not lifted it since. She asserted that I was beautiful until I learnt it by heart. She raised me on morality and make-believe; on comity and comedy. On ambition and zeal. On self-respect. Why is brazenness a flaw in a woman?
Let’s take this to the bible. The Book of Esther condemns Queen Vashti. Why condemn Vashti? She who stood her ground and would not dance naked for King Ahasuerus? In doing so, she stood up for all women as Esther stood up for all Jews!
Does our solidarity scare you?
Good. Because the day you approve of me, I’ve got a lot to reassess.