11 Ways to Reclaim Your Power (and piss off the patriarchy)
- Take off your bra before you start writing this. Toss it over your shoulder for good luck and forget about it. Let the girls loose, free from the chafe and itch of underwire. You don’t need that kind of undergirding to keep you aloft. Feel your breasts move freely under the tree necklace at your throat, the one made for you with magnets and silver and green aventurine by the woman who was broken and shouldn’t have lived, but who did and who healed herself whole again.
- Get a tattoo on your back of a naked tree goddess with watery hair, your mole as her belly button. Get it in New Orleans while you’re having all the sex you didn’t have for the first thirty years of your life. When you go back to Pennsylvania to visit and your mom tells you you’ll have to cover it up around the boys, your nephews, say no. Don’t cover it up. Let them see Aunt Jenny’s tattoo and be scandalized if they must.
- Plant something. Garlic. Potatoes. Root vegetables. Things that grow underground. Get your fingernails dirty, filthy. Get pieces of earthworm stuck to your wrists if you have to. Apologize to the earthworm. But don’t say you’re sorry to anyone for being dirty, not unless they’re referring to the earth on your fingers and forearms. Even then, don’t apologize.
- Don’t want things, specifically the things they say you should want. A million fans. A million dollars. A million possessions. High-heeled shoes. Go barefoot and laugh. Feel the garlic you planted growing under your naked toes, the earthworms you separated coming back together, because nothing pisses off the patriarchy more than
- Actual resurrection. Not jesus-y resurrection written by a group of men, for another group of men to preach about. But phoenix-y resurrection, rising from the ashes and trembling into new broad gender non-conforming wings. Or better yet, spring resurrection—warmed earth and soft rain charming green snakes of grass right up into the air.
- Learn how to make bread. Knead it with your bare hands, the same ones you used to plant the garlic. Let it rise. Bake it. Harvest your garlic and roast it; spread it with olive oil on a slab of the bread. Season it with sea salt made from the tears and sweat of all of the witches ever burned at any stake. Eat it. Return to step five, feeling all of the witches being reborn in your body, resurrecting, not like Jesus but like the goddess who birthed him.
- Wear whatever the fuck you want. Bra, no bra, sundress, tracksuit, flannel onesie. Okay maybe not that if you’re having a hot flash. But really, whatever you want.
- Bleed and don’t apologize for it. Bleed and don’t hide it. Ignore the cringing at the word Period. You don’t have to protect anyone from your own blood, including yourself. It’s not the blood of sacrifice and murder. It’s the blood of renewal and creation, of a cauldron made of flesh.
- Take a nap, right now, in the middle of writing this list. Rest your head on the table and close your eyes. Have a dream about a Strawberry Julius, no hot dog. Slurp it down and walk out of Northway Mall and onto McKnight road, just down from your old elementary school, and stop traffic with your mind. Stop all of the cars and the work and the buying and selling, and see what grows from the great achy quiet.
- Make a plan without a plan. Make it a vision. Start it with “By next year, I…” By next year, I’ll be living on a patch of sand. By next year, I’ll be living in a butter yellow cottage with a garden where I grow my own food, where I can wish garlic out of the ground and summon tomatoes with a snap of my fingers. Hundreds and thousands of red ripe beauties rolling like thunder across the dirt, surrounding me in formation, synchronized swimmers on land, spelling out words like HOTHOUSE and RESPIRATION and INSPIRATION and URGE. Spelling out words like BLOOD and GRANDMOTHER and WITCH and WAND. Know that fruits and vegetables speak in languages you have to hear with your belly and translate with your tongue. Know that you can do this whether you’re able to roll your tongue or not.
- Claim joy, the joy that is your birthright, better than some kind of furry vest two brothers will fight over. Better than a Technicolor dream coat, better than a lineage of “powerful men.” Your joy is different. Your joy is what you can make with your hands, including the middle finger, or a bowl to drink spring water from, or the Live Long and Prosper sign, or shadow rabbits on the wall. Or bread, and love, and resurrection. Because you have, you know, rebuilt yourself with your own hands. Reached down below your belly button, cliterally, not with determination but gentleness, with the steel of soft longing, and stroked and stroked and stroked until the dry riverbed filled with water, a slow trickle at first, then running loose. Something rushing loose in you, something that was underground, a well they forgot about, but you didn’t, and you rose from the dead. Because you know how. Because you can, and you will again.