Though I did not actually participate in the purported, now mythical “bra burning” of 1968, I did ditch the ones I’d worn since becoming pubescent as a first act of defiance and liberation in 1970 when I entered UT Austin as a freshman.
Those were tumultuous times for which I was ill prepared. No number of straight-A’s or student council meetings had given me the chutzpah necessary to weather the social upheaval, emotional overload and mental bombardment of ideas, cultures and beliefs that came with leaving home and landing at The University, especially in 1970.
Students were protesting the Vietnam War in the streets, chanting Give Peace a Chance.
and getting gassed by authorities.
Civil Rights were being questioned and demanded. There were riots. Attrocities. Assassinations.
Women were speaking out and acting out in unprecedented ways, demanding equality in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, sexual freedom and reproductive rights. Thank God.
& I was aghast. Excited. Terrified. Not at all courageous enough to join them in the streets. But I did join. & it was then, in the midst of all that chaos and uprising that I began my own work of becoming formidable. First, I needed to know who I was before I could know what I stood for and how I would make my stand.
If you want to know more about that story, you might call it my personal liberation story and the emotional work I needed to do, and continue to do, you may want to read my post “How We Heal: Become Formidable and Choose for Love.” But a short note here will help me connect Ms. Cozad’s poem to this post.
At UT, I was studying to become a teacher at my father’s insistence, so that “I would have a career to fall back on,” meaning, the real goal was to find a suitable husband to support me. So. You can see how I might not have been ready to stop wearing make-up, stop shaving, and forge ahead with my own ideas toward a brilliant career. My own ideas had not yet surfaced.
Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Off to Work I go…
…a singing sword fits your hand as well as a scepter…Devon Cozad
Or not. The Feminist Movement brought to fruition the possibility for women to be strong, corporate executives, powerful political leaders and more. But it also caused an unfortunate rift between women who were now divided about how a woman should occupy her world and those of us who chose family and home life over career somehow became “less than” those who chose careers. At least that’s what happened to me in my mind.
Today, I know who I am. I never wanted a “corporate” life or a spectacular career in the “eight-to-five work-a-day world.” I know I wanted a family and the time to devote to it. & I know I am an artist and a writer. But that knowing took considerable personal journey work.
And that brings me to the work of today’s guest-poet, Devon Cozad and how profoundly its message affects me.
Yes! Writing is activism. & in her poem Dear Corporate Warrior Princess, Ms. Cozad reminds us to keep up the good work, each in our own particular way…
Goddesses can step a brave beat/In high heels/Or bare feet
So, in my own ways, I continue be brave, to stand for peace, for justice, for equality, for humane and compassionate treatment of all humans, creatures and the planet. I go barefoot more than I wear shoes. I teach. I write. I paint. I smudge. I pray…
Sage your office space regularly/And blow a kiss to the moon
I try to heed Ms. Cozad’s warning to…
Tread with purpose and with care/to let the divine in…
I try to remember, we women are in this together, that there are no sides. And that this work of becoming formidable is never done.
Devon Cozad earned her MA in English Literature at Buffalo State College. She currently teaches College Writing and Communications courses across several campuses in Western New York, and also works with community garden and literacy programs. Her work has appeared with and is forthcoming in Meow Meow Pow Pow, In Layman’s Terms, Scene & Heard, and Persephone’s Daughters. Read Dear Corporate Warrior Princess in its entirety here…
To read Apology by Ms. Cozad on Meow Meow Pow Pow go here.
Dig in your stiletto./The blade came before the shoe…Devon Cozad
please note: my apologies for the lower case treatment of Ms. Cozad’s name and poem title. I switched to the new “block” editor style in WP and it automatically does this to the file name for some reason I cannot decipher at this time.
images: all are used with permission of the artist via Creative Commons with some rights reserved unless otherwise noted