The following one-minute mouth-off monologues
are especially for women. Some of them may eventually find their
way into a play, but for now I've shaped them into monologues
that challenge the actors to fill in the missing details from
their own imaginations: who, what, where, when, why, how?
This symbol means this monologue has been recorded. Click on the triangle to listen.
Click on the triangle to listen:
When did it become a rule that "bought new" gifts are the only ones acceptable?
That handmade gifts, or things once owned and loved by the giver, are "tacky"?
All I can think is that the stores' barrage of "Buy, buy, buy!" advertising has
discombobulated people's brains. When the kids were too young to shop, they drew
me a picture or made lumpy ceramics. I loved these gifts. I keep them on display
in my kitchen, and whenever I see them, I smile. I love the home made fruitcake
my sister bakes for me every year-- despite all the dumb fruitcake jokes, she
knows my taste exactly. Even that I prefer pecans to walnuts and rum flavor to
brandy. "It's the thought that counts", isn't it? Decades ago, when shopping and
cooking became difficult for her, the family stopped gathering at my great aunt's
house for holidays. Aunt Sarah was sad because she no longer had a use for her
table- setting treasures. I told my great aunt that I would be delighted to be
given as a Christmas present anything she was ready to part with. By the time
Sarah died at age 86, I had candlesticks and lace tablecloths, glassware and antique
platters. Every time I set a festive table it is beautiful with her things, and
with the memories of my aunt and our happy times. These are what I treasure--
not the drawers full of gloves and scarves and necklaces bought by my cousins
Click on the triangle to listen:
Consider the Alpha male: big, broad shouldered, good looking, and smart. Other
men just naturally look up to him. He gets their full attention; he's a natural
leader. Alpha-ness is a kind of neutral power, like electricity. Sure, tyrants
and gang leaders have it. But alpha's aren't automatically bad guys. One idea,
an oldie but goodie, is Chivalry: the idea that the strong should use his powers
for good, and particularly to protect the weak. "Might for right" -- remember
Camelot? Why can't a nobility of Male Feminists to be our Perfect Gentle Knights?
Advancing kindness. Spreading civility. Generosity. When a lesser man behaves
badly, Mr. Knightly will take him aside and remind him that actions have consequences.
When a young man curses or is disrespectful, Mr. Knightly will consider it his
gentlemanly duty to correct him-- mildly. But if some creep on the bus is groping
women or children, the creep should end up with a broken arm! When the Alpha sets
standards, other men will follow. Why can't 100,000's of years of male evolution
be put to work for altruism? Rather than greed or war? The problem is that men
in general have lost their sense of the common good. It's not about which male
winds up with the most money, or the most hardware. It's about which man can imagine
the Best, model it, and inspire other men to try it too.
Women are superior to men in just about every way, except that pound for pound
and inch for inch, men are physically stronger. And what do men use that strength
for? Making trouble! Schoolyard fist fights and pissing contests and starting
wars at every opportunity. I mean, look at a soccer riot! What is that?-- besides
a wholly and typically male enterprise. This nonsense about boys in school acting
out and how teachers should change their ways to accommodate boys? That's ridiculous.
Boys already take up more than their fair share, attention and resources. Look
at football! Or compare the budgets for boys' toys and gadgets with what parents
buy for girls. Not to mention that male dropouts, if they work at all, make more
than women with a junior college degree. Boys need to learn to be more like women.
Quit acting like jackoffs. It's called self-discipline. Some people think the
way to civilize men is to tell them they're superior and flatter them into chivalry.
"You're so big and strong and smart. We want you you to be responsible leaders
for all the poor little weak silly females. You'll protect and support them."
Like that works! I mean, show me one society where a man makes the rules that
is a decent place for women or children. Better yet-- show me one that is a decent
place for other men!
I know it's really childish and I sure wish I weren't, but-- I have to admit,
I'm terrified of snakes. I can't even see them on TV without shaking and shuddering.
I was was walking in the park the other day?-- a little bitty stripe-y green one
slithered across my path, and I just jumped about two feet in the air, screamed
out loud and burst into tears. My friends all laughed, and one of the guys even
said it was "cute". I hate being being called "cute"! I play tennis and soccer
and field hockey. I'm aggressive-- I'm even "in yer face". But now I have this
panic thing. Imagining that snakes are lying in wait for me. I couldn't go down
that path in the park again-- not unless I knew a friend would be leading me by
the hand. helping me past the snake place. Is that humiliating, or what? Aaarrgg!
Lizards are almost as bad: But at least I don't scream. You know, it's getting
so I think maybe I'll take up skiing and ice skates, and just stay indoors all
summer. Or maybe I should see a shrink: what do you think?
I was in this bar that's popular with students but has townies too, and this
slightly older drunk guy with greasy hair is following me around. First he's saying
things like he doesn't understand what my boyfriend sees in me, I'm acting so
stuck up. Then he says it's great I don't take any crap; he respects how I speak
up for myself. I keep saying, "Yeah? Thanks"; and "Excuse me I'm talking to my
friend here" and I keep moving away until I'm sort of backed into a corner. Then
he crowds in next to me, and says, "What would you do if I put my hand on your
leg?" and I said, "I'll f-king break your jaw." He gives me this creepy laugh
and says, "Right, babe! Like you're George Forman, huh?" and people start getting
quiet and watch. "No", I say. "But If You Touch Me I Will F-king Break Your Jaw.
So he grabs at my crotch, and I clock him. Now, I only know two moves: one is
going for the guy's balls, and the other is this right-cross thing where you faint
a little ladylike swat with your left hand and while he's looking at that you
come up hard from below with a right to the chin. I hit him good. Didn't break
his jaw, but it laid him out flat on the floor. Then he comes up with a broken
bottle! The guys grabbed him and threw him out the door, meanwhile he's howling,
"She hit me! She hit me!" and everybody in the bar is cheering and clapping. My
boyfriend said, "She proved his point. She doesn't take crap!" People were buying
me drinks for a long time afterwards, and the drunk never showed his face in that
When I got pregnant at 17 I decided to keep my baby, in spite of the pressure.
My boyfriend wanted me to have an abortion and my family wanted me to give her
up for adoption. I got Welfare then-- at least I got it until my case worker discovered
I was taking courses at the local Junior College. She told me "...taxpayers don't
want to pay for you to go to college. Get a job and pay for it yourself!" How
cruel is that? What is that, but punishment for the "sin" of being a mother? Now,
after years of ups and downs, I have a serious illness; and again I'm at the mercy
of the Welfare system. But I'm alive, and I'm grateful for that. My finances barely
allow me enough to eat and make trips to the doctor-- no money for socializing.
I've lost all my friends. Some dropped away because a person who can't afford
to eat lunch at a restaurant, or go to a movie, scares them: what if it happened
to them? Others I avoid myself, because I know they have troubles of their own
and don't need to add mine. Misery doesn't really love company, you know. Misery,
at least in the early stages when there's still hope, wants somebody to smile
and buck them up, to lend them the energy to look for a way out.
Click on the triangle to listen:
Bearing a child affects a woman more deeply than it can any man. No woman
thinks, like, "I guess I'll go out today and get a pedicure then
stop off at the clinic for an abortion". It's a soul-bruising
choice. From the depths of my conscience, I say: what about the
rights of the born? The ones already occupying the planet, the
ones living and breathing and needing? Could I afford a "special
needs" child? Well, no! It would bankrupt my family. If I found
out a fetus I was carrying was defective, I'd have an abortion.
I'd do it reluctantly. I could love that child. Maybe if we had
a real safety net, free health care, I might be willing to have
it. But as things are...? I'd choose the ones I love who are living,
over the unborn. But why stop with outlawing abortion? Why not
go back to banning birth control? Make it illegal to have a miscarriage?
Arrest women who drink or smoke or don't take enough folic acid
during pregnancy? Women aren't just machines for producing babies!
We have souls. We have minds and a conscience. You have the right
to try to guide me, but in the end it is my own wisdom that must
I have an IQ of 140. I finished 3 years of college, but didn't graduate because
my money ran out. My boyfriend has his degree, and an IQ of 130. We're both stuck
on poverty's roller coaster: a system where workers can be laid off or fired without
warning. For no reason. So far my boyfriend has been able to find another job--
better, most times-- but it's terrifying. We'll just about recover from drawing
down the savings and emptying the cupboards when boom, no paycheck for another
three to six months. And we're not exceptions. Most of our friends are in the
same boat. When the newspaper writes about how poor folks just need more "education"
I send the editor a letter trying to set them straight on the facts, but it doesn't
get printed. People have to believe that we must be drug addicts or gamblers or
something: it just can't be that intelligent, educated, articulate Americans,
who follow the rules and do everything that's supposed to lead to a good job,
can't find one. Well, open your eyes. That cashier you just talked down to? That's
me. Tim, who ought to be an archeologist? He delivers your pet food. He tutors
your kid. You comfortable ones treat us like shit, and talk about us as if we
were some alien species. But just wait. One big medical bill, one outsourcing
of a job, and you'll learn a thing or two about class. Down you'll go. A few good
hits, and you'll never get up again.
The work I do makes a real difference in
ordinary people's lives, and I'm good at it. I work hard, for
long hours, using my analytical and communication skills-- along
with my political savvy-- to cut through red tape and get help
to where it's needed. I won my position through a competitive
exam, and since I've been in this job the agency has improved
its performance in six crucial areas. But my supervisor constantly
belittles me, and any women who work for him have to listen to
demeaning jokes about "dumb blondes" and "ditzy redheads". He'll
question the figures in my reports, though he's never found a
single error in one. He'll ask the man in the next office-- who
I swear is dyslectic and always asks ME for help!-- ask him to
check my math! I never got less than A's, from first grade through
grad school! A total jerk. But then suddenly, out of the blue,
my pain in the neck boss is showering me with compliments. For
what? For losing 20 pounds! And while he's telling me how great
I look, saying loud enough for all my co-workers to hear that
guys are going to start asking me for dates?-- through all this
he's got his hands on me. He's touching my arm, he's patting my
shoulder. Proving to me that no matter what I do or don't do in
terms of my job, what counts is if he likes the way I look. Erasing
my dignity. Letting me know that simply by being boss, he has
control. My body: He can judge, he can comment. He can touch.
Any parent who actually cares, who
has experienced the stress that comes from feeling absolute responsibility
while every day feeling more and more that less and less is under
your conscious control, goes through times of bleak despair. Child-rearing
is unbelieveably difficult-- if people had a clue beforehand just
how difficult it is, no one would volunteer to do it! It's especially
difficult early on, when babies don't give back much, and sleep
deprivation makes it hard to be alert and appreciate the joyful
moments when-- miraculously!-- they appear. This is true for fathers
and mothers, but mothers have it worse - because a mother is not
supposed to ever--No, not ever!-- be less than unconditionally
loving. Never mind that she may be in no condition to be in the
same room with the kids, let alone cope with them! She's supposed
to give hugs and talk babytalk and have infinite patience, all
while utterly exhaused and with her hormones racing up and down
and spilling out her ears. This is, to put it plainly, insane:
and more women should say so. It's something we need right now.
Plain speaking about the stress of parenthood. Honest dealing
so that the hard work and positive energy that child-raising demands
isn't all on the shoulders of one lone unprepared and unsupported
woman. So: Tell each other. Tell the men in your lives. Tell the
Wow! You are really trying hard to be a
good mom and give your kid the birthday party he wants with his
friends. If your ex doesn't go along with this and do what's best
for his son, that's really a bummer. My parents divorced when
I was about your son's age. Boy, did that ever screw with my life.
I wish I could offer insight and advice, but I still don't understand
how and why they messed with me. The best thing you can do, though,
is not make a big deal. Just invite his friends to a party on
the closest day to his birthday you can, and don't put the blame
on his father for spoiling things. And -- Whatever you do, don't
fight with your ex in front of your son! If his Dad is willing
to be a jerk about the kid's birthday just to prove that he still
has the power in the relationship, he's more immature than your
seven year old kid! If he hangs up on his son while they're talking,
that's just evil. I'd feel sorry for his new wife. He'll pull
this crap on her and her kids, too.
I am so scared. If you can't help me,
please, can you tell me somebody who can? I've got nowhere to
go. You see, my older sister got pregnant when she was 15. When
she told our mother? Mom pushed her against the wall, slapped
her face, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the living
room. Opened the front door and threw her off the porch. She screamed
at her that she was going to Hell, and told her to never come
back. I don't know where my sister is, or even if she's alive.
Mom won't mention her name. And now I--. My uncle Phil: my Mom's
brother? He raped me. Three weeks ago. He offered me a ride home
from the 4th of July picnic, and he pulled off the road and--.
I didn't dare tell! Mom would have killed me. But now I'm late
for my period, and I just don't know what I'm going to do. If
I can't find somewhere to go, I might as well die.
My husband has the perfect life. No,
really! Life doesn't get better than his. First, he loves his
job. He's in research. He's the boss, he designs the project--
so it's exactly what interests him. The boring or stressful stuff
is somebody else's responsibility. He schedules work around his
golf, swimming, and tennis -- because his research proves that
a boss is most productive when he's in good shape physically and
leading a balanced life. His kids adore him, because if something's
fun, Dad does it with them. If it's drive the kids there and wait
while they do it, then it's Mom's job. But I don't mind. He got
me an interesting job, 12 hours a week in my own field-- so when
the children are older, I may be able to be the boss at a job
I love, too. Meanwhile I ferry the kids to lessons and read a
book while I wait. That's ok. I love to read. Cooking and housekeeping
and supervising homework aren't as wonderful as what my husband
does-- but he knows that, and he tries to make it up to me in
all sorts of sweet little ways. So if my life's not quite as perfect
as his, it's pretty darn close!
I know a woman who had an abortion when she was a frightened
18 year old. Her lover, her friend, the young man she'd known
since they were kids-- he ran out on her. The emotional scars
she carries from that have hurt her sexuality and the rest of
her self-esteem. It may take decades for her to learn to trust
again. But, ask her: was the abortion a mistake? She'll say the
relationship was the mistake. The abortion was a necessity. My
point is that men make the laws, enforce the laws, and run all
the religious institutions. And these men haven't a clue about
what a woman's relationship is to her body, or to her own potential,
or to the people who are already in her life. How do they presume
to decide? If her fetus is premature, or autistic, or needs multiple
surgeries, or if the stress of carrying an unwanted child causes
the woman to have a mental breakdown, will these pro-lifers supply
the financial support and loving care the mother and child need?
I have Christian friends who seem compassionate, but oppose government
spending because they want low taxes-- in order to buy the best
for themselves and their own children. Check the Epistle of James
on the difference between faith and works. Unless you are perfect
in charity, don't cast stones.
The same people who condemn abortion
condemn birth control. They believe that sex itself, the bodily
expression of love, is sinful-- unless it is within the sacrament
of marriage and unless each act of love is open to the possibility
of conception. If you're not married and aiming at pregnancy,
no sex: Abstinence is the way! They want everyone-- or at least
every woman-- to go back to the days when the only choice was
between a life without physical love and one of forced pregnancies.
The road map for the anti-choice movement is a memo by Samuel
Alito advising these groups to push to have pills and IUD's re-classified
as abortifacents. And they are getting their way! In tax-supported
clinics and hospitals, we've got doctors and nurses refusing to
prescribe birth control or do medically necessary D&Cs. We've
got Pharmacists for Life refusing to fill prescriptions, 'morning
after' or standard pills. The issue isn't really abortion. It's
a campaign against feminism. They want to put women back into
subservient roles. If they could take away our right to vote they'd
do that too!