Being a Woman in Times Like These

Notes:  For Sherry’s Prompt, Being a Woman in Times Like These, based on the book the Handmaid’s Tale.  Or write a poem about escaping abuse.  I have not read the book and to be honest, at this point I am not likely to.  This is not a political argument Sherry says.  I am instead relying on my study of Victorian times that I did to obtain my PhD in Fine Arts.  It is the best I can do.  I was employed in two male dominated professions and I fought every step of the way.  I succeeded mainly because I early said, Fuck You to the men in charge.  thank you Mama for giving me the guts to do so.


Being a Woman in Times Like These
“Confound it! It’s just because nobody does anything that things have come to this pass!”
― George Gissing, New Grub Street

women must submit to their husbands.
women cannot have abortions, talk of reproductive rights,
or pass reproductive information along.
women cannot vote.
women cannot be given their wages for work – it must be given to
their husbands, brothers, fathers or other male in charge of them.
women must dress in a style that restricts their movement –
corsets that keep them from taking deep breaths,
full skirts to the ground,
that restricts taking long strides or running
no slacks
women must cover their hair at all times
women must have children, take care of children,
work from dawn to after midnight
women must serve their men first during meals
and take what is left over,
women cannot be doctors, lawyers, engineers –
any employment that requires strength, intelligence, science
women can only be cooks, housekeepers, maids, shopkeepers
(but only if they have a man doing the books and keeping accounts)
women cannot read newspapers
women must listen to their husbands, brothers, fathers or other male in charge of them.
women must be meek and servile
women can only be silly and stupid and vapid,
or at least pretend to be.
women must pass these values along to their girl children.
women must obey these rules in the year 1890. It is of course, modern times.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lillian
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 16:50:39

    Oh my sweet dear…..I swoon at your words….having the vapors at this time!
    And now fast forward please, I’ll take a glass of cold chardonnay and kick some dustballs on the floor while listening to some Dixie Chicks music! 🙂


  2. scotthastiepoet
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 17:07:52

    A flavour of those times, for sure… Striking!


  3. Sherry Blue Sky
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 17:08:56

    Oh yes. And so many of these tenets still were expected and assumed in the 1950’s, as I recall. Some of the mindset carfried over into the 60’s and 70’s (as you will see in my poem, lol.) Thanks, Toni, for this, as it shows that we came a long ways. What scares me is that I feel we are in imminent danger of losing a lot of these rights and freedoms. I havent seen the film or read the book either. But I love the Handmaidens standing on the steps of power in silent protest at legislators rolling back our rights.


  4. Magaly Guerrero
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 17:17:39

    Once, while teaching a philosophy of religion course, I read a book on “etiquette and manners” to my students that sounded a lot like your your poem (which makes sense, since it was set in early Victorian era). My students roared with laughter, especially the females (they were very young) until they realized that at one point it was a real thing, and that we still have women being living like this.

    Your final line makes me want to hear this read aloud, on stage, with facial expressions dancing on the actor’s face accordingly.


  5. sanaarizvi
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 18:04:25

    Sigh .. sadly it’s still the same in some parts of the world and women are subjugated by tyrant men. This is a powerful poem!


  6. Glenn Buttkus
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 18:09:46

    Women have come a long way, but until the sexist dinosaurs all die out, modern women need to nudge our better angels regularly. I have been an advocate for women’s rights all my life; so much so I’ve been accused of being a woman in past lives .


  7. msjadeli
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 19:50:25

    Subjugation was done over time and legislated to give it power. It will take time to undo the damage. I just watched, “On the Basis of Sex,” about Ruth Ginsburg’s beginnings, starting with the first day of law school. Oh my, how I admire her.


  8. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Jun 13, 2019 @ 23:39:38

    Women have come a long way in the last 70 years… and I don’t think or feel we are threatened now at all. The only issue is “you know what” and that is very controversial. The list is amazing though… Glad I’m in the here and now!


  9. Susie Clevenger
    Jun 14, 2019 @ 11:32:44

    It is scary how the world is regressing. What was has become what is.


  10. Beverly Crawford
    Jun 14, 2019 @ 11:41:10

    Women have come a long way. In my circle of friends, I cannot identify any one of them as “meek and servile”!!


  11. Helen
    Jun 14, 2019 @ 11:50:06

    I will not live long enough to see the day women are no longer threatened – in one way or another – ’round the world.


  12. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Jun 14, 2019 @ 13:50:32

    I find it so interesting that what you write is so close to Saudi Arabia of today… and I fear that way too many men want to live like that (not me)…


  13. Lori
    Jun 14, 2019 @ 14:33:47

    Like reading an instruction manual of womanhood and while one might scoff at it now, given the rights and freedoms we currently have, it isn’t like that for women around the world and in some places there seems to be the turning back of the clock which is what I felt at the end of the write. Quite tongue in cheek.


  14. coalblack
    Jun 16, 2019 @ 12:19:28

    And here they are again, these “modern” times, with old men deciding what women may and may not do.


  15. Kerry
    Jun 17, 2019 @ 04:52:51

    It is sad how true this list still is in the century of ‘enlightenment’. I always think of how much society has lost by not utilizing women’s abilities and intellect until the mid 1900s.. and even then in a very miniscule capacity.


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