Here’s What I’m Telling You

By Lizzie Odell, TIWP student

The following piece was written in a TIWP class after reading and discussing Eve Ensler’s “Manifesta to Young Women and Girls.”

Sit down little girl. Let me tell you something. Stop running for a moment, brush the curls out of your eyes and listen. I’m going to tell you something . . . something you know deep inside but something people will tell you is wrong your entire life. Now people are going to tell you, little girl, that there’s a certain art to being a girl. But when they say art . . . they mean balancing act.

They mean that you must be some of this, a little of that, a whole lot of those over there. They mean that you can talk, and think, and laugh . . . so long as it’s not too loud. So long as it doesn’t show. Doesn’t affect anyone else.You can be successful. . . but not too successful. Rich. . . but only just show. You keep your head down, mouth shut. You apologize for everything. You’re not worth it.

You’ll never be a doctor or a scientist or a mathematician. You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll get married, have kids, cook, clean, and do what you’re told. Be sure to remember that your husband owns you. So you can’t like anyone else. And remember that the world’s dangerous and you’re far too weak to be on your own. You’re being raped? They tell you to surrender. To give up. You could die trying to stop it. We both know you’d rather be dead than let that happen. Why does this bother you? It’s just how things are.

Or it it? Does it have to be?

Why can’t you laugh as loud as you want? Why not eat that? You know you want it? It doesn’t matter what people tell you. Go for it. Laugh. Live. Run. Cry. Become a doctor. Cure cancer. Dye your hair. Get a piercing. Express yourself. Be who you are. Fight back against the people who try to contain you. Because trying to tame you is like trying to control a tornado. Utterly impossible.

So dream big. Go big. Do great things little one. You know you can. Tell people what you want. Don’t apologize. . . it wasn’t your fault. Stand up straight. Chin up. . . you know you want to. Be single. Wear those shorts. Go out alone. Show them how wrong they were about you. Be respected. Don’t ask for respect – demand it – command it. Teach yourself something new. Don’t whisper. Shout it! Scream it! Yell it! Cry it out! Be angry. . . you’ve got every right. Leave your comfort zone. Build new horizons. Break the limits – they don’t define you. They can’t confine you.

Be brave little one. The most terrifying – the life threatening – the universe altering choice you’ll make . . .

Is just to be you.

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