...I wonder what you thought all those years ago. About me. About my life...
We could relate when we talked about books and poems and longing to be loved. But we were talking about two different things.
Were you holding your tongue when I rhapsodized about this guy- about that guy? How nice they were. How smart they were. How gentlemanly they were. And how they liked me. And I liked them. And their smile made my world shake, the room swirl around me- my stomach tie up in knots- my eyes dance in happiness.
What were you thinking, friend?
I remember the way I caught my breath- the way my heart lurched in pain- when you told me you would never marry. That you didn’t want to marry. That you were going to be a nun.
Two fourteen-year-old girls- and in two different worlds.
I didn’t understand yours. And you were too young- and too surrounded by it- to explain it to me.
Years passed between us. I was ever in your prayers. You were daily in mine.
Time brought us both experiences that made us understand one another.
There we were- seeing each-other after so long- laughing and talking so fast over our drinks at Starbucks… realizing we had stepped into each other’s worlds.
I had been raised by a godly man. My whole life had been surrounded by males whom I looked up to- whom I could follow- boys whom I admired and instinctively- blindly trusted. I had not been sexually abused- as you had been.
India was the closest I ever got to ever experiencing what it might feel like- objectification- to despair of ever being loved for who I am as a person- to be ashamed of my own femininity.
And now we had switched places. You who had known so few true men were surrounded by them at seminary. You were being treated like a queen- and were becoming one.
And I? At my college… I see girls- who have lost all they ever had to give- with no conception of what it means to be- nor any hope of ever being- cherished. I see men taking advantage- daily- of our vulnerability. Do you know what it did to me, dear friend, to see boys (I can’t call them men) shove, pull, mock, and strike their girls- in public (all this mixed in with false, filthy kisses)- and not one person protest? Oh, sister! How easily we are lead! How easily we love! How easily we are deceived!
What does a girl do when she has no protector? She can do one of two things. She can give in. Or she can recognize the men around her for what they are: animals- and refuse to be their plaything in the only way she knows how.
I read the paper you wrote. I will quote it here. “I got tired of men real fast. By thirteen, I was dressing like one, talking like one, walking like one. I wanted to be one, because men weren’t man enough. I saw a need for men, but I couldn’t see any men. I had to make up for what men were not. I was the man of the house. Women have become the new men, that’s my theory.”
I understand the feminist, now. I am not one. But I understand what wrongs have made them- and I find in my heart no strength to judge my fellow sisters- for I have been blessed with what they were not: to know men made after the likeness of God- who sacrificed themselves as Christ did for their brides.
I know you are meeting them, too. And I know you are coming to love them as I do. I am glad. But my heart breaks for our sisters who will never have the hope that you and I do. And I must love them- even as they hurt- as I loved you- because of the inescapable that we share: we are women.