A collection of 80 original sonnets, in the classical style, for girls and young women ages 16-30. Subjects include education, money management, self-image, self-care, health, menstruation, love, family, friendships, manners, nature, fashion, choices of
singlehood, sex, marriage, motherhood, and more.
(also available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other Internet booksellers)
Having been born in 1967, my formative years were parallel with the years of the feminist movement in which the Equal Rights Amendment (1972 – 1982) was widely lobbied.
Oddly, only in the past few years of my life have I become aware of how powerful (and powerfully subliminal) that lobby was and what an impact it had upon my generation of women, not to mention the impact to come – and now here – upon the children, especially girls, born to my generation of mothers.
I grew up seeing on television the Enjoli commercial (“the 8-hour perfume for the 24-hour woman”) during breaks in Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman, and Wonder Woman, and I quite vividly remember the song made famous by Helen Reddy “I Am Woman,” the lyrics of which might now be “I am tired, I am not invincible, but still I am woman.” I also well remember a 1986 British film “Absolute Beginners” in which a sultry Patsy Kensit (born in 1968) sings “Having It All,” which now, I have concluded, would best be rewritten as “Having Enough,” meaning having what one needs, first, then pursuing what one wants, though not all at once.
Of course, these few shows and songs do not amount to a total cultural diet in the 1970’s and 80’s, but they are reflective of a pervasive theme of personal and professional overachievement, which so many girls and young women of my generation regularly ate as food for thought. I, for one, freely admit that I devoured the idea of being “strong, invincible, and WOMAN!”
Though I am tremendously grateful for the era of opportunity in which I came of age, I am also grateful, now, for having reached an understanding of strength, invincibility, and femininity as spiritual aspects of womanhood, while recognizing practical, livable womanhood as having limitations, different for each woman, yet the same in demanding respect, as much respect as equal rights demand. In fact, the freedom to determine enough for oneself is as much a part of equal rights – any rights – as the opportunity for more.
Whenever I see girls and young women, I wish that I could tell them something because I remember myself at those ages, wanting to know something (a secret to life, happiness, etc.), but other than through books, I feel that I was never actually told anything that to me made sense in seeming to be authentically something. As I observed adults and peers living and working, most of what I observed left me empty or confused but no less convinced that there was indeed something – something more – like the difference between pan-and-scan and widescreen in film: I felt that I was seeing only part of a picture, and possibly not the most important part, which is not always front and center. At the same time, I felt that the margin for error, which frames the “big picture,” was gradually, irrevocably narrowing in the sense that as time and money were becoming even more precious commodities, an urgency was upon youth, pressuring it to make every moment, every decision, every direction count by apparentness, despite the fact that many moments, decisions, and directions in life that count the most are not apparent and may in fact seem apparently idle – at the time. I see this more and more since my own youth: the margin for error closing in, not allowing for “wasted” time or the “mistakes” of random thoughts and actions, which so often are the means by which fate is generous and thus the means by which a person “finds” herself / himself. Indeed, I believe – even more, I know – that as the margin for error narrows, the vanities and insecurities of girls and young women broaden to the point of effecting neurological and hormonal changes, e.g., physical and emotional excesses and deficiencies, which MUST lead to troublesome overall health (mental, emotional, physical) as the only means to an end.
I should like to have written Mademoiselle Ovary years ago, but I was not old enough to do so. Now I have written it to tell something, and poetry is always such a feminine, effective way of telling anything.