One More Dispatch from a Distant Land
When I was fifteen, becoming a woman frightened me. When I was eighteen, being a woman struck me as loathsome. Now, how old am I? I have become too much of a woman. I can no longer return to being human; that age is gone forever. My head is small, my neck long, and my hair terribly heavy.
Tada Chimako, “From a Woman of a Distant Land”
It was the most exquisite form of torture yet invented. The schools trained us to be rigorous scientists, subtle logicians, discriminating literary critics, scrupulous theologians. We were given every form of encouragement. Then we were overtaken by our bodies. We bled heavily without a wound. We joined with men, hoping to be shattered, but only mild pleasure, if not disgust, happened. They, on the other hand, cried like babies or dogs and wanted the same for us. So we faked it and after a while could not tell the body’s rumor from the world’s reality.
I am one of the luckier ones. I stopped dating and threw myself into teaching. I have found some measure of satisfaction in seeing my charges flourish. This one will be an earthbound astronaut strapped to her seat of her skirt. This one will write poems about “women’s issues,” which will be anthologized in volumes of women’s writing. This one, the most intelligent of her class, will devote herself to raising her kids. She and I will meet occasionally for coffee and debate passionately the merits of marriage. She will succeed in making me doubt my luck.