Ever noticed how women are constantly put in a box? The problem lies in how patriarchy has taught us all that women need to grow up in a certain way, with a certain kind of personality, and that it is improbable for a woman to have a multidimensional personality.
She’s either the girl you take home, or the one you call for a booty call or one of the guys. Society has become habitual in unseeing the wholeness of women and their personalities. It is unimaginable that women can be both a great friend, that you can chill over a beer with and the girl you can introduce to your parents! This is exactly what Megha Rao puts into words in her poem Call Me Army, which she performed for UnErase Poetry.
The poem starts with her talking about her early teenage years, and how being labelled as a prude by young boys affected her sexual exploration.
When I was thirteen, I was the wide-eyed strawberry milkshake girl dreaming of fairytales about sleeping princesses in pretty frocks and finding lovers in ugly frogs. Until at fifteen when my high school crush and his friends called me a prude, an idealistic hick that nobody screwed. So at seventeen, I was the girl who owned every shade of red lipstick, the siren-goddess-mantrap chick, drinking cheap whiskey in some stranger’s bed.
Then she goes on to say that as she grew even older, and as she found herself attracted to different boys, she noticed how they all had their own ways of putting women in boxes. Through her poetry, she expresses how at different ages, men often stereotype women, and many times that sets the pace for a toxic culture where young girls feel the need to change themselves in order to feel worthy. Especially, worthy of love.
And then at eighteen, I met this boy in the library who was going through a Murakami shelf, and suddenly I couldn’t help myself so the whole evening I spent reading satire and tender melodrama quoting Dante and Franz Kafka. But in the end he liked this girl who played beach volleyball in her bikini, and sipped martini like a lady so at nineteen, I wore a sea blue bikini, spent three hours at the gym and chewed on zucchini, because they said feminists weren’t anybody’s type,and smart cookies weren’t worth the hype.
She also talks about how patriarchy and the male gaze leads men to label women, and to control their identities, ultimately affecting women’s self-esteem.
They want the party animal not the lunatic….one day the typecasting got to me, I mean these were just stereotypes you wanted me to be. And I was tired of changing myself into people I wasn’t, if you think pretending to be cool to be wanted works, it doesn’t. It just hurts and it gets worse.
Then finally towards the end, she concludes by saying that women don’t owe it to anyone to be a specific kind of woman, they can be (and often are) a complex and beautiful combination of all their interests and passions.
I’m a feminist, not a punching bag or a manic, pixie or a free therapist. I’m all the versions of myself that exist for myself, not to please somebody. I’m done with people thinking women can’t be pretty and smart and strong and foolish and lame and weird. It’s not this or that. We’re allowed to don every hat and so I’m all these girls and more.
Ultimately, she reminds the audience that women are an amalgamation of all the people they’ve met and their own quirks and passions. You can watch the entire poem here.
Best example: Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. That girl was not just a pretty face.
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