Thursday, November 6, 2014

Never succumb to the weak words

I read voraciously as a child. I read books picked out at Little Professor Bookstore, and I read magazines plus newspapers. When commercials for wacky products would come on in the middle of Scooby Doo, I would repeat the addresses at the end to see how many times I could read it before it cut back to the program. My bookshelves groaned with title after title, even at a very young age. Dad built each of us floor to ceiling shelves and mine was packed tighter than tight. Needless to say, I am a reader/book hoarder. 

I've been pondering what it is women like to read. We all love a good fictional novel, replete with settings that make us yearn to travel and see love in new ways. This kind of book is good for the soul because it stirs within you a restless need to see the world. We all need to see the world, or just get out of our little corner of it more often. Many of us will never visit another country, but that doesn't mean we can't travel there with the words as our guide, that we can't delve into the lives of others and be taken away by the windswept moors of England. When you let the words take you captive it lets you feel the air where we are aren't comfortable and secure - a little bit of danger and anonymity can make you feel alive. Non-fiction holds reign on my bookshelves as well, and I've read about many people and places that held my attention deep into the dark folds of night. I've traveled with a man across Siberia as he tucked into tiny rooms and ate strange foods, as well as a woman reporting undercover in Afghanistan where her life was in danger around every corner. Your heart beats heavily as you feel yourself in their shoes and you know not what lurks around every grungy corner. 

I feel alive when I'm reading even if that means fighting with my husband about the light being on. It's always one more page...one more chapter. By the time I've reached the end of the chapter he's fallen asleep and I read on as the cloak of midnight encroaches and is gone.

Women need good things to read. 

I used to read our encyclopedias when I ran out of other things. Siberia, Antarctica, New York City, and tiny villages in Romania - these were the countries and pages I turned to and pored over every word. Don't let my encyclopedia-reading ways change your views of me. I believe what I was searching for was MORE. More grit, more to chew on, more to grab with my mind and turn it around in my brain. Our women's magazines are filled with makeup tips, hairstyles, and ways to please your husband. Let it never be said that I don't care about those things, I do, but this is filler that is spackling up our minds. Minds that need vibrancy and intelligence.  

On occasion I'll pick up a book, one of those trashy romance novels, and glance through it just to see how it reads to me today. I'm mostly appalled at what I find in it by the way women are treated. We are relegated to the kitchen to make sure that the chicken is tender, the pies are warm, and the baby is dry. Maternally-household-istic jargon aside, I embrace my role as wife and mother. But we, as women, need to be stepping out of the roles that so many of these books in the past were written for.

I want to be taken seriously by men and women. I will not be judged by how clean my yard is or how tall my rosebushes are. I want to have a conversation in my writings or wherever it may be, and be taken at face value for what I've said. I don't want my opinions tossed aside because I'm a a woman. 

Because that does still happen. 
Every day in every part of this world.

As a woman, I want to ready brilliantly-enticing articles that make think. I no longer want to read articles that tell me to forgive to 'keep the peace'. I want to talk and fight it out, not simply give in and crumple inside myself. I don't want to be told that to make a relationship work one has to give blindly, over and over and until there is nothing filling you up and you have nothing left to give. This kind of rhetoric is telling us that we must always give in, forgive, say I'm sorry when God designed us to walk side by side, not one behind the other. I want to live in a world where an assertive woman is not called bossy but brave. Where we can give our view and not just have it called a woman's perspective. 

We need women writers to be themselves bravely.
We need words that make us strong not weak.
We need sentences that allow us to be more.

I am fortunate to be married to a man that has pushed me to be these things. This, after so many years not believing in myself. We were two cultures that clashed, who then fought it out, and believed in each other. He believes in strong writing for women, and though I know that making him an astounding sandwich is part of his love language, he also knows that mine is affirmation of strong words. He believes in those words and he reads them. 

Find strong things to read. We must not succumb to the weak words.