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July 13, 2008


Rofigo de la Mancha

As a guy who wants a lady who _doesn't_ want to please everyone, I'll offer what insight I can.

The first thing that comes to mind is that it's OK to p*ss people off. So long as it's not done to hurt, and that validation/gratification does not come from p*ssing those people off, or course. The idea that an empowered woman is one who lips off to everyone ie "I am woman, hear me ROAR!" is a fascist oversimplification of a healthy self esteem.

What women need to learn is that being pleased MUST BE EARNED. Just... don't get high and mighty about it. Otherwise, you get the p*ssing contest between the sexes that you see today. If someone is good to you (and I don't mean that they buy you that trinket or some other hollow gesture of affection), THAT should be what makes you _want_ to please them. You're good to others who make you feel good about yourself without expecting anything in return. This also applies to both sexes, not just women.

Another way of looking at it, is that they (those who think they are "entitled" to being pleased) DON'T MATTER. Now, this seems a bit harsh. Thinking that another human being "doesn't matter" can come off as a bit draconian from time to time. However, we do that sort of thinking all the time. We just don't always catch or punish ourselves when we do it.

The way you have to rationalize it is like viewing these people who think they're automatically entitled to pleasing, as obstacles. You don't honour things that stifle you. You don't try to maintain a fear that's hindering your success in life, do you? Why should you maintain an amiability in others when it hurts you too?

"Say what you mean, and mean what you say, because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter." -Dr. Seuss

(at least, I _think_ it's Dr. Seuss)

When something matters to you in life, you don't let others obstruct you. That being said, you don't degrade them in the process of your pursuit, either.

As I always say, "True self-respect does not come at the cost of another's."

The answer, in short, is an even mix of self esteem and humility.


"I remember the poet Lucille Clifton saying that sometimes when she writes a poem she wants to sound "pretty" because she thinks "men are reading this," but then she has to remind herself that the poem must lead the way; she must follow the poem."

REALLY? I've written poetry my whole life and it has never occured to me to make myself look "pretty" in that forum in case a guy might be reading it. That just sounds weird to me. Wow. That's a pretty high level of self-consciousness isn't it?

Some people are just more people pleasers than others, and I don't think that's necessarily a gender issue, though the "pleasing" may take different shapes in the differen genders.

Tom Babcock

I am not a poet nad have a limited capacity in artistic creative writing, but how is writing to sound "pretty" or "likeable" any different than writing to sound "intelligent" or--pick your adjective? We often choose what image we want to convey about ourselves when we write, but are not Ms Clifton and Ms Bourgeois recognizing that their art has a life or a meaning of its own, irrespective of its author? I don't necessarily see this as "living to please" in the same sense as what plagues young women on the college campus, but rather it can have a simler, more benign interpretation. It reflects an awareness that getting your poetry read, or getting your art seen (or even to have either purchased), may require an awareness of how you are being perceived. It does not mean necessarily relinquishing your right to come across as unlikeable or unpleasant. The sense I take from Ms Bourgeois' remarks, however, is that a woman is at risk of not having her art accepted if she comes across as a "B....", whereas a man does not face this level of scrutiny, and can be quite successful no matter what his character.

Now is this true? I don't know. There are quite a few successful but unpleasant artists of either gender.


See, I'm a girl but I really can't relate to this, because I've never "always worried about making myself likeable". Sometimes I hear about these things that are supposed to be universal female experiences and I'm like "???" because they have nothing to do with my life.

Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

Eve, how does one reach you? Very impressive blog (from one who still doesn't understand them or how to use them!). You look happy and alive and I admire these musings! Can you send me an email? cahnmann@uga.edu
Sorry to have missed you at AWP Chicago. Hopefully, Denver? Misha/Melisa

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