Being a woman is a joy. We can wear dresses that let the wind flit through and cool down those hot spots on summer days. Most of our general upkeep products are doused in unnatural fragrances, so even on a bad day our bodies smell like a peony garden with coconut trees and grape vines scattered atop dried apricots that soaked in honey and jasmine extract overnight. Every now and then we’ll have a good hair day so magical that we literally stare at ourselves in both disbelief and reverence and threaten to de-finger (as in, cut off a finger) any assailant who attempts to lay a hand on the perfection that is our three-day-old twist out. Our bodies grow, expand, contract and strain to produce every generation of person that has ever existed in the history of man. Our touch soothes children and men (and sometimes other women). Our laughs heal wounds. Our ingenuity sustains governments, businesses, and households. We are as clever as we are cute.
And yet, folks love to attack our ovaries, don’t they? They spot the ovaries over in a corner, minding their own business, maybe playing hopscotch with our fallopian tubes or just floating around waiting for creation and for some reason (maybe because the ovaries are beautiful and happy?), someone will come over, wrap a hand around each ovary, and squeeze. Hard. Depending on the ovaries’ experience with this kind of pressure, they might sit there in disbelief or they might mount up and defend themselves. Just depends. Ovaries are tricky to pin down.
By merely being a woman or appearing to be a woman, we sometimes invite the kind of attention that is unwarranted and deprecating. I remember going to a hotel to pick up a speaker that had flown in for a lecture. I drove into a somewhat narrow entrance in front of the doors of the hotel and waited for the person I would be driving. A bellman eventually came over to my car and asked if I could pull up a little and then turn around to be facing out. My ovaries must’ve been laughing too loudly or maybe they looked like his cheating ex-wife’s because he then offered to turn the car around for me because the space was too tight for a woman to maneuver. Now, my ovaries have about a moderate level of experience dealing with this kind of pressure so they know how to mount up in defense, although they’re not completely comfortable with that. In that moment, I was too surprised to respond the way I would if I had written this in a book or something. All I said was, “I got it.” Of course I had it. Like, what is there not to have? I drive this car every single day. I know exactly what needs to happen for it to turn itself around and point in a different direction. I am fully capable of such a menial task. Even if I couldn’t manage it, would it be a reflection of my having ovaries? Would my estrogen levels somehow cause my hands and feet to malfunction while turning around the car? Uh, no. If I couldn’t manage to turn the car around in the space it would be a reflection of a whole host of things unrelated to my gender and more related to the reasons people can’t drive.
When I replay the scenario in my head, this is how it goes:
Me: *Just being my usual cute, competent self sitting at the doors of the hotel in my car*
Bellman: Excuse me, ma’am, are you here to pick someone up?
Me: Yes, I just called her and she should be right down. It shouldn’t take long.
Bellman: Ok that’s no problem but would you mind turning around so that you can be facing out. It would help the flow of traffic.
Me: Oh sure, no problem.
Bellman: *pointing* Just pull up a little near the parking garage and turn around in that space. Oh, you know I could do it for it. I know you’re a woman and all . . . *chuckling*
Me: *Gasps, clutches pearls* Sir! Please unhand my ovaries this instant! *wraps arms around belly for full effect* First of all, you don’t know how much of a woman I am. Second of all, I don’t know what the hell that has to do with me pulling this car around. And third, I am fully capable of turning this and every single car in the world around in this space! I am a skilled driver. I am a master parallel parker, in fact! I could turn a tractor around in this space!
I could turn a spaceship around in your little raggedy hotel entrance! I can certainly turn my car around, the car I own and drive every single day, the car I negotiated for myself by myself (won’t tell him I didn’t get a good deal), the car I have insured not because I have or will ever cause an accident but because state law requires it. Again, sir, please remove your firm grip from my ovaries so that I may live freely, to exceed the expectations you have of women or not, whichever I chose.
Me: *steers my car perfectly within the tight space* *posts up in my car like Mae Jemison in that picture*
To be sure, I am guilty of making assumptions about people because of the pervasive one-dimensional narratives told about some groups. Because I am aware of that, I try to disrupt the thoughts I conjure up when I come in contact with someone, especially if the thoughts are negative in any way. A trick I learned is to think of a specific friend that I have who fits the characteristics of the person I have bad thoughts about. For instance, if I see a tattooed girl with a buzz haircut and I immediately think she’s butch and not feminine, I think of any friends of mine who are tattooed or have low haircuts to remind me that they are soft, sensitive women. Most importantly, they’re people I care about and this person should be a person I care about (in a I-care-for-mankind kind of way). And anyway, maybe she is butch and not feminine. So? That, like most other superficial stereotypes, have nothing to do with her value.
I’m done. I got mad all over again while writing this. It’s been like six months. I should go back to the hotel to see if he still works there and deliver my “Unhand My Ovaries” speech. I’ll let y’all know if I get the balls to do it . . . I mean the ovaries 😉