Who taught you how to be this woman? Not a woman, but this specific woman that you are still becoming today. A black woman. A woman comedian. An unreasonable woman. A transwoman. A polite woman. A police woman. A strange woman. A woman scorned. A woman’s woman. Who taught you how to be this woman? Many have clicked heels through classrooms you sat restless in. There were nurses, mothers, aunts, aunties, books, drag queens, sisters, friends, tomboys, enemies, men, babysitters, lovers, pastors, advertisers, nuns and Disney characters. Which lessons did your teacher(s) prioritize? Grace, agreeability, soft skin, a peaceful disposition. Strength, tenacity, thick skull, a firm no. Which deep or shallow well does your self-worth pull from? Bad self-esteem exists in some spaces, is laughed away in others. Who taught you submission? To embody the feminine mystique. Thick thighs giving side eyes in silent churches. People saying “stop listening to grown folks talking” and “stay in a child’s place.” Go give your uncle a hug. Did they forget to teach you about consent? Bodily autonomy? Your hair and its styles did not belong to you. Itchy stockings restricted your girlish range of motion. Who thrust you upon the goody two shoes pedestal and then pulled that pearl encrusted lever, watching your rapid ascent? Who compared you to the nice neighborhood girls or the fast video vixens? They danced like them and encouraged you to dance like them while still telling you not to become them. How many times did you sing “hit me baby one more time” and never mean it? The Girl Power marketing machine made you both brave and beholden to the male gaze. Were you crazy, sexy, and/or cool? Your budding breasts were a traffic signal yet you were operating without a license. When was the exact moment that you even knew you were a woman? Your breasts either came in or they didn’t or you stuffed them or you bought them or you had them removed. You bled in uncomfortable places. Did they throw you a sweet sixteen, a quinceañera, a bat mitzvah or did that day pass without a social marker? Who taught you how to be heterosexual? Made you play tackle football with the neighborhood boys who came to your door, leering. Taught you to be both strong, a good sport, and still pretty. One of the guys but a girl. Lent you their VHS copy of Love and Basketball. Gave you Teen Beat posters and took you to see gyrating boy bands live in concert. Told you with smiling teeth the myriad ways that men could be manipulated. Lied, saying boys are mean because they like you. Not because they might be jealous of your talents. Made you think you were straight before you ever really thought about it. Who performed gender for you at family barbecues and on the streets? Told you that girls were more difficult to raise. Boys were always easier. Who behaved like a lady in front of you? On the tops of wedding cakes and on school photo days. Who hit on you in AOL chat rooms, typing a/s/l, and how old did you think they were? Who taught you about your body? How to tell whether or not it was a “woman’s body?” Put their dirty fingers inside of you until it hurt while you faked an orgasm. Whether flat chested or big breasted or late bloomer or assigned male at birth. Did you learn how to masturbate before or after high school? Did you have to steal makeup or were you allowed to buy it? Could you afford to look like a JC Penny’s Back to School catalog? Like a prom queen or a stripper; same bathroom routine. Who taught you that greeting your lovers in lingerie was preferable to wearing pajamas? That men don’t like women who don’t even look like they’re trying. Did you wonder why Lucy and Desi slept in twin beds? Lucy wore black and white striped pajamas. Did they put a single book written by a woman into your hands? Can you now name at least ten living women who have written something worth reading? Is this worth reading? Were you made to be ashamed of your intelligence? Tried to hide it behind mall rat culture and by joining cheerleading squads. Who taught you about sisterhood? Did you have sisters of your own? Did you find solidarity with those same sisters, cheerleaders, or girl scouts? Was it with the funny or slutty or shy or baby faced queer girls that you were best friends with? This could all of course describe the same girl, a super BFF. “That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood.” Was a gay boy your best girlfriend? Did malicious actions or words fuel your loss of friends over time? Those girls who asked you to buy pregnancy tests for them. The tough girls with lip rings and short, bright manic panic hair that you were told not to piss off. Was it much, much later that you found your womanly voice. The knowing college professors guiding like a beacon in the dark ocean of confusion. Was that Joan of Arc class worth 5,000 dollars of student debt? Did you seek out othermothers? At the campus women’s center. The marches and fundraisers and every Vagina Monologue. The bad girls who shared their cigarettes and cocaine with you. Did The Sisterhood move first to include you or did you seek their inclusion? Did you kiss a girl before or after Katy Perry did? On a scale of 1 to 10, how not like Katy Perry did that girl look? Did you ever eat a pussy or are you a Pillow Princess? Did you ever think or say out loud that it was easier to make friends with boys. You either still believe this or you feel sorry for the you that internalized misogyny. Have all your male friends secretly always wanted to fuck you? Do they text you about wanting to escape the oppressive friend zone. That is either a patriarchal myth that also hurts men or a reality or both. Do you have resting bitch face? All the girls in your class are just jealous. Bitches just mad cause you’re too pretty. Did you feel like a woman before or after losing your virginity? Was that a choice? Is nurturing female friendship a priority in your life? Did your last conversation with a woman pass the Bechdel test? Which number is higher, the amount of pounds you want to lose in 2017 or the number of femme identified friends you have? Offline or on. Do you often find yourself waiting for men to stop speaking before you feel comfortable starting? Stop doing this. Do you think laughing at sexist jokes told by your boss is an act of economic survival or cowardice or both? Have you seen the film 9 to 5? The last time someone called you a bitch did you A) say thank you B) laugh C) punch them D) cry or E) do nothing. Do something! Now subtract 10 points if they were an intimate partner using the term in a non-endearing or kinky way. Will being complicit in your own daily devaluation eventually lead to a raise? Should women be paid for their emotional labor? When was the last time someone asked you to divide one part of your identity from being a woman? Don’t bring race into this; you’re a woman first! Does being a woman make you feel like a good or bad person? There are no good people, only those who never get caught. Is this true or too cynical? Are you the Debbie Downer of your friend group? Should reading this article and responding to its questions count as a therapy session? Is it better if your therapist resembles you in some small but significant way, yes or no? Did you decide yet today if you still hate parts of yourself or not? Daily mantra to repeat: I am chaos and ashes. Real women have nerve endings. Or, we are all laughing stardust drunk on the human experience. I am woman, hear you snore. Who taught you how to be unsatisfied with being this woman? Told you that you were shaped wrong for the first time. Gave you a diet pill or plan or new way to get high. Who first showed you how pain was beauty? Witnessed you frowning from eyebrow plucking and leg shaving and hair perming and ball tucking and weave sewing. And the many purple, bruised injected asses. And the rock hard, leaking nipples. This is how it is. So pick your tips up off the floor. Do you plan on giving birth to or adopting a woman or rescuing cats or dogs or none of the above? Which woman would you prefer to have lie closest to your body? Is being someone’s WCW your #goals? If you could swap bodies with any woman, which body part would you rip off of her first? Should you seduce your gynecologist to get free health care now? What makes you look more glamorous, estrogen, heroin, or Birkin? Your Score: take the number of people you’ve slept with and divide it by the number of fucks you have left to give. Congratulations! You’re a woman who’s still breathing.