Throwback Thursday: 5 Previously Published Poems 2/25/2021

Below are five poems that I have previously published on this blog, along with my interpretation of each poem.

wallflower

you have to make them  
make room for you  
or you'll never learn  
how to fly 

You deserve a seat at the table. Don’t wait for others to make space for you. You need to make room for yourself because you deserve it, and you deserve it now. You are enough, and you deserve to be accepted. Once you realize this, you will excel immensely.

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

mothers and sisters

I find myself constantly searching  
for mothers and sisters in the women around me  
and being let down all over again  
when the wires don’t connect  
it’s hard  being disappointed by family 

I’m someone who is always looking for mother-figures and sister-figures in my life. I grew up in a male-dominant household, so from a young age I’ve craved the guidance of female role models. Much like a child, I look at these role models through rose-colored glasses. Conversely, unlike a child, I am mature enough to recognize when these women don’t live up to the unrealistic standard I have set for them. Therefore, I set myself up for disappointment when the women I view as my mothers and sisters can’t fulfill my emotional needs.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

meditation

 close your eyes  
until you bleed out roots of light  
and sink into the earth  
and fall asleep 

I began practicing meditation to deal with my anxiety and depression. When I practice visualization techniques during meditation, I like to envision light that sparks from the center of my body and moves outward in the form of roots. When I become especially relaxed through meditation, I sleep incredibly well.

Photo by Sam Kolder on Pexels.com

your thoughts

my thoughts are not bad  
just because you don’t like them  
and your god doesn’t like them  
my god  
likes me enough  
just fine  
just the way I am  
who are  
you 
to tell me differently? 

Your thoughts aren’t bad, even if you don’t like them; even if they can be unpleasant, sometimes. You and your whole self need to love who you are, no matter what others think of you.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

universe

your chest is the earth 
your fingers are the roots 

your breath is the air 
your mouth is the ocean 

your cells are the creatures 
and your hair is the jungle   

you create our own world 
your very own universe

I wrote this about my Significant Other. He is my whole world; every part of him is a part of that world. We’re creating our life together, and I love it.

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

I Can be a Powerpuff Girl, Too

On some mornings, I wake up and remember weird things my mom told me when I was a kid. The other day, I had one of those mornings. 

For some reason, when I rolled out of bed the first thing that popped in my head was the Powerpuff Girls. You know, those three cute little girl superheroes in pink, blue, and green. And I remembered that my mom almost didn't let me watch them.

Back when she told me this, I asked why. I thought she maybe assumed it was junk that would rot my brain. I know enough about my mother to know that violence in TV has never bothered her, but she often called colorful cartoons "junk."

The real reason she told me was because of the title. "I didn't like that they were called Powerpuff Girls, like they're powerful girls. I thought that sounded feminist," she told me.

I was a child when I watched the Powerpuff Girls, and a teen when my mother told me I almost was forbidden from watching them. As a teen, I asked her what had changed her mind and she said she happened upon an episode while flipping through the channels and thought the show was cute. So since it was cute, I could watch it. 

Now, I realize for you reading this that my mother's words must sound crazy. But this is just the kind of person she is. She had the option to send me to an all-girls' school but didn't because the school emphasized the importance of "sisterhood" and she told me that would turn me into a "woman's libber." This article isn't about how weird my mom is. I don't have enough time in the world to delve into why I think any woman would actively want to be submissive to men. No, this article is about the Powerpuff Girls. 

And it's about other shows like it. Looking back, TV, books, and movies really shaped who I am. When I was just a kid watching the Powerpuff Girls, I, like my mom, just thought it was cute. But now, as an adult, I realize the hidden messages. The show taught me I can be feminine, like pink, and be kind and cute and tough all at once. The Powerpuff girls taught me that just because something looks girly and feminine, that the doesn't mean it's not tough and feminist. I might not have realized it at the time, but this show, and others like it, planted seeds in my mind that would blossom later. 

Feminine and girly are not the opposite of tough. Being feminine is strong. Being a girl is powerful.

The Susan B. Anthony episode in particular has stuck with me through the years. In real life, Susan B. Anthony refused to pay bail when she was jailed for voting. She wanted to serve the time to make a point. When her lawyer paid the bail and told her he did so because he didn't want to see a woman in jail, Anthony was disappointed. She didn't want special treatment for being a woman. She broke the law, and she wanted to be treated like a man breaking the law even though the law she broke was unjust. 

In the Powerpuff Girls episode, the villain is a woman who tries to convince the Powerpuff Girls not to take her down because she's a woman. By the end of the episode, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup decide that just because she's a woman that doesn't mean she's above the law. And that always stuck with me. 

It might seem small and it might seem silly, but I assure you that the show is anything but insignificant to me. And on some deeper level, my mother knew it. And I was lucky that the cuteness of the show helped her overlook the feminist message of three powerful girls routinely saving the city. 

To a kid, the Powerpuff Girls are real. To a kid, the Powerpuff Girls represent what I could grow up to be. That goes for every show, book, and movie. Representation isn't just important: it's essential. 

You can be a Powerpuff Girl, and I can, too. 

The Hill I’ll Die On: Teachers Are Underpaid Because Teaching Is a Female-Dominated Profession

The title says it all. And I’ll say it louder for the people in the back, too: teachers are underpaid because teaching is a female-dominated profession.

While I’m at it, I might as well point out that the same goes for nurses, too. But I have more experience and knowledge about the education system, so I’m going to stay in my lane for now.

I used to be a teacher. That’s right. I used to be a teacher. As in I’m one of many who left the profession in pursuit of greener pasture. And like the majority of people who leave teaching, I left before finishing my first three years. But while my experience was for a limited time, I experienced enough of the profession’s tomfoolery to understand how the field of education does a great disservice to the women who dedicate their lives to shaping children for little financial reward.

Here is the main thing I noticed: society’s sexism is magnified in the education workforce.

If you’re a woman, think of the expectation society has set for you. And if you’re not a woman, or if you were fortunate enough to be raised secluded from the patriarchy, let me break it down for you in a simple chart. Please see below:

Societal Expectations for WomenExpectations of Teachers
Women should stay home and have babies because it’s in the nature of women to be mothers.Teachers are expected to teach for the love of kids and not for the purpose of being gainfully employed. Also, teachers are discredited for how highly educated and trained they are to be educators because teaching is just seen as being a glorified babysitter, and according to society women are supposed to naturally love kids.
Women are seen as submissive.Women in education aren’t encouraged to be ambitious. While most teachers are women, most leadership positions in schools are held by men.
A good mother puts her child’s needs above her own. Society says women should be martyrs. Teachers are guilted into putting the needs of their students above their own. As a result, they often pay for supplies out of their own pockets. However, teaching is a job. And teachers should be making money on the job, not losing money. Also, teachers don’t get raises based on their performance because they’re told they didn’t get into teaching for the money; they got into it for the love of kids. Tough luck.
Women are held to an unfair standard of appearing “put together” at all times, whether that be in the way the woman looks or “having it all” in life. And don’t forget to look happy while you “have it all,” or you’ll be seen as a bitch. Teachers are under immense pressure to be perfect, and they’re not allocated enough time or resources to perform at their highest potential. Teachers work way beyond 40 hours/week. In most schools, teachers are given no time to lesson plan or grade, so they are forced to work 60+hr weeks just to keep up. And don’t forget to put a smile on your face while you teach, or you’ll upset the kids.
a helpful chart explaining the woes of womanhood

Of course, the expectations of teachers listed in the helpful chart above go for all teachers, but they pervade education more than any other field because, as a female-dominated field, education gives less push-back to this unfair treatment. This is because women are already laden with unfair expectations in all aspects of their lives, not just their careers.

Most teachers are women, and since women are already accustomed to unfair expectations, they are overall less likely to push back then men. Women in society are made to feel guilty over and over again for falling short of the high expectations placed on them, so we as women will avoid pushback and confrontation in order to avoid being guilt-tripped or made to feel that we are not good enough. And this of course is ridiculous, because men overall are not held to the same standards as women, so generally this is an issue that men are altogether confronted with much less often.

Call the picture I’m painting speculation, but I’ve lived it. And if this is an experience that you’re fortunate enough not to share, then please recognize that many women do share a similar experience in regards to unfair pressures from society. And to be clear, these unfair expectations for women find themselves in every type of job. It’s just more prevalent in female-dominated fields like teaching precisely because women are the target of these disproportionate standards.

Don’t get me wrong, the world absolutely needs great teachers. I know women, and men, who are still teachers and love it. I’m not rallying everyone to abandon the profession like I did, and I also don’t regret the years I dedicated to teaching. I personally have found happiness elsewhere, but there are many who are perfectly happy to teach even though it has some serious drawbacks. And there are also plenty, like me, who decide to leave in pursuit of a career where they have more agency, power, and opportunity to make money.

So this is the hill I’ll die on, but what do you think? Is it just a coincidence that teaching is both a female-dominated profession and an underpaid profession? Or is it because women are notoriously underpaid, so of course a female-dominated profession will underpay its workforce?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com