Looking Pinched

Hourglass figures from days of corsets cinch’d tight
Constricted breath and contained all movement combined
To make a sphere constrained and thoughts smaller
And birthed ideas bubbled forth
And birthed ideas bubbled forth
Women wondered, heard, held their heads taller
Took baby breaths and baby-steps from roles assigned
Fought battles from boudoir to basement for their rights

This is an Amanda’s Pinch. It is a rhyming, syllabic form that contains a refrain of repeated lines 4 and 5. The syllable count is: 12/12/10/8/8/10/12/12 with a rhyme scheme of: a/b/c/D/D/c/b/a. Its centered on the page to give the idea of being pinched in the middle. I first wrote one for the Scavenger Hunt this last September and liked it so much that I thought I’d give it another go.

I’m old enough to remember when I couldn’t have a credit card on my own. My father had to put me on his card. I remember being told I had no place in Veterinary medicine because I was female. In fact, it was shocking to the guidance counselor that I was even considering a career working with animals. When in college I took an aptitude test for possible career directions. I was told that I would make a great beautician, dental hygienist, nurse, even a passible mortician (because the dead don’t care about your gender). If it hadn’t been for the counselor (a woman in the armed services who had broken many barriers) I wouldn’t have seen the career at the very bottom of the list – veterinary technician. I have many women to thank for my rights – the right to vote, the right to own property (including real estate!), autonomy over my health care (but now not including reproductive rights). But I’m seeing an erosion of those rights and perhaps they will disappear completely. Now there is a lessening based on how much money I have, how mobile I am, how educated I am. If I’m rich and have the ability and the knowledge, I can travel to where I can access the care I want and need. If that’s not the case, I’m at the mercy of short sighted politicians. The struggle is real and the fight is not over. It was never over.

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60 thoughts on “Looking Pinched

  1. There was a time, when women are, nothing, compared to men, we get paid less, for the same job positions that men are, taking up, socialized that we are, the inferior of the two sexes, and, even though, we are now, with, more rights than our, predecessors, we are still not quite on equal, basis with, men, not even, close.

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  2. The poem is very good with the exacting form you chose.

    I also remember when women couldn’t have a line of credit without a man’s approval. They also couldn’t charge their husbands with rape, as it was assumed that a man had a right to force his intentions on his wife – even if it included violence and abuse. With this legacy, many men have to prove that their intentions are good before they are not perceived as potential abusers. The Patriarchy has been damaging to themselves as much as they are to womenkind. Do they care?

    “Yes, I am wise – but it’s wisdom from the pain.
    Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained!
    ….
    I am woman watch me grow
    See me standing toe to toe
    As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
    But I’m still an embryo
    With a long, long way to go
    Until I make my brother understand”

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    1. Absolutely. I don’t have daughters but my sons are well aware of the need for women to be their equals. When women are able to reach their full potential then men will excel as well. When every member of a society is valued then all are elevated!

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    1. I don’t think you are much younger than I am – it was starting to change… By the time I graduated from college I was inundated with offers of credit cards. (of course my credit limit was very low – but I had a card!!)

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  3. Great article Val. The more I read such articles, the more I wonder and applaud Islam, where women were encouraged to study, have their own rights in society, own their properties and be autonomous about their health and wealth. I am talking about the real Islam and Muslims, and not the ignorant Muslims of Afghanistan or Iran and other nations where women are considered as second class citizens. The right to vote was given to women fourteen hundred years ago. US gave that right to women in 1920! When I came here in the mid sixties, I was looked at as a rarity by the hospital staff. Women were not physicians. They should be nurses etc.!
    Great article Val!

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    1. I’m flattered that you thing this post was great! Thank you bunches! I think that many religions were progressive and inclusive then at some point things began to change – in Christianity, Judaism, and even Islam and we got all these perversions of the original teachings. I think you were probably a real eye-opener for many of your male peers! I’ve had some really wonderful physicians but my 2 favorite have been women!!

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    1. I think there were many who had deformities that made bearing children much riskier! Of course if they got excited or over heated they would faint which everyone considered a reinforcement that they were the “weaker sex”!

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  4. Great poem, Val! Yes, I remember — but I see too that we have come a looong way, even with the current political upheavals. So many things we can do that we couldn’t when I was a child!

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  5. On the aptitude test I had to take to get aid from the Feds because of my dad being a disabled veteran the highest marks were for Forest Ranger. Lower were attorney, newswoman, English teacher, artist. Both the test giver and my mom ignored “forest ranger,” because girls didn’t do that. I was sent to college to major in journalism simply because I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer. When I ended up teaching I was as surprised as anyone. BUT if I’d been born 10 or 20 years later, I’d have majored in Outdoor Recreation Management.

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    1. Yep. I bet you would have really loved your job!! I can see you as a National Parks Ranger in Yellowstone! Still English teacher was still “on the list”! I’m just happy that my parents were progressive enough to encourage me to follow my interests instead of telling me that I should go to cosmetology school so I could be a beautician… so many of my classmates either got married right out of HS or became nurses, beauticians, or elementary school teachers.

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  6. I tried to buy a block of waterfront land when I was 19. I had $7k and wanted to borrow $3k to complete the purchase. The bank said no because I was single and under 21, and my Dad refused to go as guardian because ” I was a girl and would have babies”. I didn’t start breeding for ten years, ten years ago the block sold for millions, and I still haven’t forgiven my father for his attitude.

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    1. wow. My dad would have said yes in a heartbeat – he’d probably have loaned me the money himself! He was big on investments and they were quite well off in their retirement years because of his foresight.

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  7. Beautiful and powerful poem. When I read this on WP reader, it’s a jumble of words. I know I have to go directly to your blog. I love the shape of the poem which tied back to the corset.

    I have no doubt that somehow you’ve inspired girls when they bring their pets in. I also worry about the constant erosion of women rights that so many have sacrificed and fought for.

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    1. Thanks Matt! The reader has its issues especially when reading on the phone… I thought this form was perfect for the topic. I have tried to inspire girls to enter the veterinary profession and now the majority of the veterinary classes are women (a small victory)! You are not alone in that worry. I think nearly half the population of the USA is worried (and the women who aren’t should be)! As I said in another comment, when women are able to reach their full potential then men will excel as well. When every member of a society is valued then all are elevated!

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  8. First i’d say bravo for writing a very powerful poem using a very complex poetic form…

    and i would like to share too that in the early 2000 (i was 21) when i had my first job interview, i was told to be so good and when she was about to ask me to proceed to the HR office, she asked me one last question: when do you plan to have children? i said, i already have a baby. then she said she’d call me. i never heard from them

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    1. Yeah. That used to happen but now it is illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy. Though my sister had a really fun job at a radio station (she did ads and sales campaigns) when she was pregnant she was asked to train a replacement because they assumed that once she had the baby she would become a “stay at home mom”! She did leave that job after the baby was born mostly because they were very disapproving of mother’s who didn’t stay home with their children (and they were less than friendly because of it), also itwas really difficult to find any kind of childcare…

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  9. we did gain some ground but seems we have fallen back loads …

    my father folded on a bank loan, I needed a male to co-sign, on a property I desperately wanted. About 5-6 years later than property value really skyrocketed and Dad never really forgave himself for blocking me. But it did kick-started my travels …

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      1. I saw over 30 countries before 23yo, many can’t be accessed now due to wars etc + camped and hitched when I was young and fit … it was a real blessing πŸ™‚

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                    1. others wanted to be nurses or teachers, I just knew I had to travel. And I do believe that is one of the best educations one can have … it opens our hearts and minds to so much more!

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                    2. I think you are so very right! My parents were both teachers (though my father switched to computer programming when that field first opened up!) and we went on lots of family vacations – always educational in one way or another! Once had to fight to be allowed to travel in my Junior year of HS and my mother argued that it would be far more valuable educationally than sitting in a classroom since I had straight As and would make up any work missed…. I got to go. It was my first solo trip on a plane to Buffalo NY to visit a friend who had moved there. I helped with her horse, and took care of the chickens, and had a glorious time!

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  10. I agree with a lot of what you say but not with the idea of reproductive rights (and abortion as health care–the woman’s body in conceiving is doing what a woman’s body is designed to do). If, as you say, when every member of a society is valued then all are elevated, we need to value our brothers and sisters in the womb as well. That will truly elevate our society.

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  11. I’m old enough that I remember being told in first grade that women’s work choices were: teacher, secretary and nurse. That was it! (Although the school cooks were women, so I guess I should have spotted that one.) We have come a long way, but we always have to be vigilant and grateful for the women who fought to break barriers. And it makes me so sad to see the many countries where women are still legally second-class citizens. No one talks about what is happening to the women now that we gave Afghanistan back to the Taliban, but it is horrific.

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    1. Exactly! And those women had freedoms and rights and respect and in a blink of an eye it is gone. Makes me worry about our country. The Handmaid’s Tale was supposed to be fiction and instead it seems to have become the template for the far right…

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  12. I am grateful for my mother having been a forthright and forward looking woman, to whom no one would ever “But you’re a woman, so no”. I married someone whose intelligence excelled my own, and for whom no barrier was too high.

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