Deficit

I have been told to be less so many times – be less big, be less loud, be less intimidating, be less of so much. I have been less so many times.

I just think it’s funny. And by funny, I mean painful – painful like when you laugh too much you think your diaphragm will tear away from your body, rip you in half and leave you a weeping torso – that kind of funny.

I think it’s funny; the charade women play to help other people understand them better – spend so much of our lives justifying our actions to all the men in our lives.

Explaining, assuaging, nursing, pacifying, coddling, allowing, bending, accommodating.

I’ve watched the women I love the most – the women I look up to, the women I cherish, women who inspire me – whose arms have held me in fortress-like embraces – I’ve watched them crumble for men. Become obliging and afraid of being seen as unlikeable, as uncool.

As unaccommodating.

But I hate that word – accommodating. I hate that it’s so often used to describe how women should be. How they’re told they need to be more helpful. More palatable. More appealing. More considerate. More delectable. A little more digestible, ready for consumption. Marketable. A little more doll, a little less human.

Vociferous, corrupted altruism mistaken for versatility. The mark of womanhood.

I watch how the men in my life – men I love; who have nurtured me and loved me – I’ve watched them make women crumble. I’ve watched them take and take and take and even when there is nothing left, I have watched them ask for more. More food. More sex. More time. More energy. More

Compromise.

But how do you negotiate with someone you think you own?

I have been told to be less so many times – be less big, be less loud, be less intimidating, be less of so much. I have been less so many times.

The name of the game is self-sacrifice and exhibitionism.

You must offer up your body, your spirit and your mind to be broken and battered. You must then display your wounds as proof you are worthy of empathy because if we cannot see your pain, we will not believe it is there. If we cannot see the blood, pooling around your limbs, suffocating you. If we cannot see the cracks in your skin. If we cannot hail you as a martyr – as a broken body – you will cease to exist to us.

Your wounds are your justification – the reason you deserve a chance.

And your scars are proof you do not need any more help.

But my scars are pieces of broken, bitter and scorched skin woven into each other – a complex mesh of pain and collagen.

The name of the game is deconstruction – become the parts and cease to be the whole.

Break down who you are so it is easy for the men around you to understand you. To take you in. To design a clear, clean path to your centre. To determine the best parts of you to slice out and deify while simultaneously seeking out the worst parts in you to carve out and grind into a pulp and hold over your head for the rest of your life.

So that soon enough, if they squeeze hard enough, your vision will blur as the insecurity makes its home around your pupils. Sears an image of unworthiness into your retina.

Disregard the human for the sake of the meat.

Branded. Butchered.

Woman.

About the author

Alita Dharmaraj

Alita is 22 and doesn't know who she is yet but it's all good because the rains are here and she's reading a really good book.
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