A Feminist’s Sestina

According to the Merriam – Webster Dictionary, a sestina is “a lyrical fixed form consisting of six 6-line usually unrhymed stanzas in which the end words of the first stanza recur as end words of the following five stanzas in a successively rotating order and as the middle and end words of the three verses of the concluding tercet.” Here is my own interpretation of a sestina in essay form. See if you can figure out what the six words I chose are.

It is complicated to be a woman on this Earth; in fact, I would say it is an act of resistance. Each morning I must decide upon which mask I shall wear: the one of quiet resignment, like a child, or the one dedicated to the discovery of unheard voices, begging and pleading to be taken seriously in the world. The first breeds guilt, the latter, fatigue.

The fatigue presents itself most commonly. I am a stubborn woman, willing to burn the world for justice. I constantly choose the latter mask and each new discovery fills my soul with the wonder of a child. I begin to wish that as a child, I had properly been introduced to the badass ladies of society instead of being fatigued by white knights and damsel in distress stereotypes. The discovery of these role models should occur with girls in every household, but often their memory is shoved to the background, our society hating anything that appeals to girls. What I would give to just hold my younger self and explain that there are centuries of powerful women in the world and, simply because she would grow into a woman, she is powerful. But her world was not ready for such a revelation. 

Instead, her world was filled with internalized misogyny. Growing up as a child, especially a girl, it becomes cool to dislike things popularized by other girls and to instead be “one of the boys.” The mask that is expected to be worn is one that expresses fatigue for phenomena like Twilight and Kylie Jenner lipstick; one that turns into a woman who resents her own gender.

Luckily, in the digital age, it is possible to make a discovery of errors when it comes to the perception of my own sex. A discovery that entails the education of how beautiful, powerful, ambitious, creative, and real we can be. In a world so hell-bent on putting us down, it becomes almost radical to be a woman who is proud of both the child she was the adult she is now. I refuse to grow fatigued with my existence. I refuse to don the mask that society demands I wear.

Instead, I choose to forgo a mask altogether. I have made a discovery recently that I have been fighting off my own internalized misogyny to this day. I had refused to see the art in actors like Timothée Chalamet and musicians like Harry Styles simply because I believed that they were being oversaturated by other girls. But the fatigue that is created in my bones by this has made me feel weak. I no longer want to live in a world where I feel ashamed of my interests – it makes me feel like a child.

I am a woman, so I am flawed. I am only human. But I am tired of the world preventing me from making discoveries about myself simply because the mask it would rather I wear fits in a narrow category. I no longer want to be a child who has grown disillusioned and fatigued with who she’s becoming and instead be a woman who is changing the environment around her for the better.

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