And you blame us now, when we fall back, for not speaking out.
You taught us: nice girls don't show off, and we learnt to keep our abilities and ambitions low key and out of sight.
And you blame us now if our achievements go unrecognised, for not drawing attention to our work and reprimand us if, with our courage in both hands, we do self promote, for being pushy and strident and inappropiate.
You taught us to be helpful and supportive to others, and we learnt to put you first at all times.
And now you take our help and support and labour for granted.
You taught us our value lay in our looks, and we learnt to hate our faces and bodies.
And now you call us vain or trivial and judge everything about us by our looks.
You taught us our anger is ugly and unacceptable, and we learnt to squash it down inside, to turn it into depression and eating disorders, anxiety and pain.
And now you call us emotional and unbalanced and irrational.
You taught us we come second, and we learnt to lose gracefully and put ourselves last.
And now you blame us for being doormats and tell us we should be more assertive.
You taught us our ambitions and dreams were silly and we learnt to release them or put them off
And now you tell us we should have tried harder.
You taught us we had to wait our turn, and we politely stood in line.
And now you tell us we're too old.
Yesterday was a bad day: I was running on very little sleep and in pain, and the internet was full of spite and anger, over reviews, over Evil Old Fans, over women who speak up and male authors who object. Over lack of diversity and prejudice and abuse. All day I watched men complain and demand, and women of all ages try at length to find answers and compromises, to help, to support, to nurture, to explain, to ameliorate. And the men ignored them or said 'Not good enough.' I noticed the Very Important Men interact with each other and reflect each other and ignore all female input, unless it came from a very small selection of Women Who Matter, who were almost all young, pretty and successful, and usually also white and heterosexual and able-bodied.
I saw, in particular, older women of all races say and do intelligent, positive things, and be ignored. And I saw men of all ages tell those older than them to step aside, and then mansplain when those same older women raised issues of ageism. 'Oh, don't worry,' they said, 'we'll honour women. Look over there, at that young hot woman. It's okay, we're on your side.'
On our side if we are young and hot (in face or form or talent.)
There is no end to patriarchal and racial dominance while debates are controlled by white men and while entrances are guarded by them. There is no equality when only one elite group controls what equality means. Equality under the hand of the privileged leaves their privilege intact. It comes at a cost not to them -- which it should -- but at the less privileged groups who surround them.
I spent most of yesterday fighting this fight, neglecting my writing, clamping down on my physical pain and the emotional pain building inside.
I have your backs, all you men who want things. I was trained to serve.
When in Nine Hells will you have mine?