On Reclaiming Words

I've seen so many self-empowering monologues lately. "I, Faggot." "I, Bitch." "I, Slut." "I, Cunt." Everyone seems to be taking back the words that were used as weapons against them in their childhood, during junior high, all through their life. I'm proud of these people - how wonderful for you. You can take an easily definable, stereotypical label, and turn it back on the world. Yes, be the label, bet it so well that it becomes every part of your personality and revel in it. I applaud you. And no, this is not sarcasm. I admire your willingness to stick to these principles, god, I wish I could do it.

What would my essay be?

I, faithful no-longer Agnostic, born Jewish with a Christian father who never wanted to take me to church, and a mother who never gave me a hebrew name? I not one or the other, too "yid" for the Christians, too "goyishe" for the Jews. I, Pagan now, simply because there is no other way to describe my relationship with the earth and the sky and the deity that makes it all run in it's happy ineffable patterns. I who for years have struggled with the fact that I will never not be Jewish, even as I celebrate Mabon and Yule and smile up at the full moon. I who feel the brand of my culture firmly upon my personality, my face, my body.

I, Bisexual, neither one nor the other, I campless, I paradeless, I buttonless. I have no rainbow flag to wave, no girlfriend to hold hands with and be sneered at by close-minded individuals who will not understand our love. I who have never been disowned by my family, who have never needed to "come out," who have been matchmade for both sexes by parents and friends, always with dismal results. I, who have kissed a girl on the mouth fully, once, and the memory lingers fully. I, who was never given more than that kiss. I, permanently rejected when I reach out for whoever I desire. I who have learned the hard way that you must wait for love to come to you. I who have learned that reaching out will often leave you with hands that have been slapped away so often they have forgetten how to touch or reach out. I who now have love, vaugely suspicious now, waiting for rejection and sighing a breath of releif that today, it did not come. Today I am still with you, and you love me, and I love you, and no, we have not grown bitter or cold or resentful.

I, Tall and Fat, spending my entire life saying no, I did not play basketball and yes, I want to eat that. I, who at the same time was told I was beautiful and fed Jenny Craig, I confused, I self loving/loathing. I who spent years staring at the girl in the mirror wishing for a smaller frame / blonder hair / bluer eyes / paler skin, I who did not see the curves and the full lips and the green eyes and the richness of the brown in my hair. I, whose "semetic" skintone (olivey) looks gold in candlelight, and paler than pale in the winter, deepest tan in the summer. I, who spent my life trying to find clothes that fit, I given up on that pursuit and now making the styles I want. I, who eat what I please, then feel guilt, then indignant. I, who feel plainest of all my friends, I who avoid mirrors, I with my long fuzzy legs and peirced nose and cute glasses. I who am snarled at when I go into plus sized stores by size 22s, I ignored in regular department stores by size 6's.

I, former hippie, now clean and sober, now showering regularly, now abanoned by friends who told me they would love me for the rest of my life no matter what. I obesessed with indian culture, meditation, jasmine oil and chicken makhani, I no longer vegetarian who still loves the taste of aloo mutter. I who now meditate every day to clear my mind and find my center, I who have no center and a mind which is rarely clear.

I am neither one or the other. I am neither Christian nor Jew, Fat or Thin, Beautiful or Ugly, Gay or Straight, Hippie or Conservative. There are no labels that apply to my cleanly. They keep sliding slowly off my skin, and when I try to stick them onto myself they fall off, fluttering to the floor and heaping in piles. "Reject." No, for I have a lover and many friends. "Popular." No, for I am not and have no desire to be part of the in crowd. "Gay" no, for my lover is a man. "Straight." No, for my body aches when I think of her, all the hers that have been in my life and may yet be. "Fat" No, for when I go into plus size stores, I am one of the smallest girls there, and because I choose my clothes well, my curves are part of my beauty. "Thin." No, for I have been told many, many times that I will never, ever be this. I stare at the piles of labels at my feet and let them fall slowly through my fingertips, sighing softly and kicking the piles out of my way as I go on with my life.

I do not want any banners to march under. I have no rallying cry. There is no great injustice being commited against every person who shares my feelings. How could there be? I am the only Cassandra I know who is all of these things and none of these things.

I, without a label. I take back my blankness, I empower myself with it.

I know that no matter what anyone says about me, they are right.

But they are also wrong.

It's a good feeling to have.