Words create us. You may think it is your parents, your DNA, your environment, but what really creates you? Words.
What you think and say about yourself. The names you were called. Callous things people said: parents, teachers, people you thought were friends. And then what you said to yourself. Still say to yourself today.
Women especially, get bashed out of shape by other people’s words. Maybe you had a brother who was treated better than you, and allowed to do things you weren’t. Maybe you got humiliated by a teenaged boy, once they showed you a physical strength or prowess that Nature doesn’t equip girls to match. No doubt you were catcalled, made to feel ugly or dirty. Maybe you were sexually assaulted, and told that you caused it. Maybe you fell in love with someone whose sole purpose, once you were caught, seemed to be to crush you.
Coming out of all this, we tell ourselves terrible stories. Disempowering ones.
But stories have the power to rewrite us. The power of the imagination is infinite. And with fiction – and fiction alone – we can step fully into the head of another human being. On film, on TV, we watch them, and might relate them. In a novel, we can be them.
I think we women could all, right now, be a little more Mary Read.
The 18th-century soldier and pirate Mary Read was the first woman to get into piracy on her own terms; not through a man. Mary lived most of her life dressed as a man by choice. As I see it, from my own experiences, it was the only way she could live freely, and have a life equal to her brother’s.
If you want a taste of Mary, and some more words from me, sign up to my list. I’ll send you the first few chapters of Nothing Becoming for… well, nothing! You can unsubscribe with one click and I’ll never spam you; unlike a few men I have had the misfortune to know, I believe in consent.
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