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August 20, 2021

Resting Bitch Face. {Poem}

A silly social media meme game reminded me of something today.

An ingrained misogyny memory
…my dad turning to my mother and asking her,

but it wasn’t a question,

why she “always looks so angry, the corners of her mouth always turned down.”
I was probably seven and thought he was right,
but to me,
mom was just angry all the time.

Of course,

later

I came to understand that men, too often,
want to mold women into what they want to look at
and being told to “smile” is a part of that.

Fortunately, I’ve always been a smiler. I think I made a decision a long time ago to be happy.

I’ve also been thinking about how, for a while, my only real strength was anger.
It was all I had left after everything else had been stripped from me.

What was I so angry about?

And there it was, “the resting bitch face,”
the fact that, in my childhood, women were not admired
unless
they were in a pageant being rated 1-10, eliminated one by one,
cooking a hearty meal for the man they loved,
wearing a corsage picked out by a man,
looking soothing and smooth, kind and happy.

Women weren’t heard
unless they were saying something a man wanted to hear,
or singing a comforting song, a lullaby, or a love song.

God knows they couldn’t be sexual
unless it was on a man’s terms.
Madonna or Slut.
Slut or Madonna.

Yeah, that’s what I was angry about,
and had been since I was a child.

I’m lucky, I think.

I’ve spent most of my anger on worthless men and their take on the world,
until Bjorn died.

Bjorn, the light of our lives, bringer of the greatest of all smiles, brilliant, talented, filled with love.

Dead one month after his fourth birthday,

after many months of agony.

Then my anger visited again,
and visits still.

This is harder to define,
and to find who to blame,
where to throw my rage.

I liked that this morning’s meme game said
I had a “resting bitch face.”

Maybe it’s time.
Maybe I’ve earned it.

I’ve always been the gal who people asked,
“Why are you always smiling?”

I wonder
What will they ask me now?

~

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