Ladies don’t roar. Well-mannered ladies always smile politely. They say thank you and follow that up with a nicely written thank you card. They speak only when spoken to, and they learn that ignoring others is very bad manners indeed. Well-behaved ladies wear clothes that aren’t revealing, sit with their ankles crossed, sip tea, never laugh too loud, especially never laugh at vulgar humor, and keep their friends close but their enemies closer, hiding enmity behind the smile that’s their constant companion.
We aren’t handed a rule book telling us this is the way it is. It’s in the little things that we hear from the time that we’re old enough to decipher meaning in language. Don’t sit like that. Sit like this. Smile. Say thank you. Don’t do this; do that. Girls learn early what is expected at home. Then they go to school and are further made to understand their role. They can raise their hands all they want, but the teachers will favor the boys. They’ll go out on the playgrounds to chants of no girls allowed. They’ll be told that what they wear might distract boys, and instead of teaching boys not to be distracted, they teach the girls to go out of their way to accommodate. We sexualize girls, and then we tell them not to be sexual.
The chant seems to be that we need to be ladies, and ladies do not strongly object. They do not make a scene. Or make waves. They do not use profanity or get tattoos or talk openly about desire. They do not get political or confront a poor behavior. Being polite is valued above being honest, and a lady is defined by who she is to everyone else. Her relationships matter, and if she tries to assert an independent identity, she is selfish. A narcissist. Someone who puts herself before others. Not a lady.
But the truth is that we are not, in fact, ladies. We are girls who grow into women. At some point if we’re paying attention at all to our lives, we awaken. We take back our power. We stop letting our relationships dictate our identity. We recognize that caring for ourselves is not an option; it’s a priority. We roar when we feel like it, asserting ourselves into our own lives like we have the starring role (because we do). We stop being polite to others while they are rude, inappropriate, and even harassing. We don’t respond to messages when we receive them from strangers or those outside of our intimate circle. We wear what we want and say what we want. We value authenticity over a polite veneer. And we take back our power.
On February 13th, a little-known holiday exists for women. It’s all about ladies celebrating ladies, and it’s not about being polite and smiling through a bad day. It’s Galentine’s Day, a term coined by the sitcom Parks and Recreation. It’s all about women celebrating each other. Fries before guys, we call out to each other, and I wish there was a true Girl Code that existed where women actually put each other first. When infidelity happens, I wish we’d stop getting angry at the other woman and instead put the blame right where it goes- on the partner in the relationship who cheated. I wish we’d stop allowing even the most casual flirtations with those we know are in existing relationships. I wish we treated strange women the way we do when we’re all drunk in bathrooms, kindly and with great concern for their well-being. Galentine’s Day is the utopia of this ideal- a time to lift one another up and empower the women in our lives to roar. To be real. To care less about what other people think and more about what they want and need for themselves.
We aren’t ladies, if ladies means that we have to be so much less than we are to fit into the box the patriarchy built for us. We’re girls who grew into women. We’re powerful. We bring life into the world and then get right down to the business of taking care of that life without a skip in the beat. We are tenacious and capable and filled with as much love and tenderness as grit, perseverance, and incredible strength. We are worthy and wonderfully enough.
So on this Galentine’s Day, let’s lift up the women in our lives for being true powerhouses. Let’s invent a Girl Code, as one does not seem to exist already, and let’s celebrate, honor, and protect other women readily, knowing that empowered women empower women. Let’s not be polite any longer to those who intimidate, violate, and harass, and when a stranger on the street tells us we’d be prettier if we smiled, we can show him our nicely manicured (or not) middle finger in a salute that refuses to back down out of a politeness we were not extended.
Ladies may not roar, but women do.
Happy Galentine’s Day!