After being catcalled (or was I? They might have been yelling at the two other women on the street walking home alone at night. “Hey you! Yes you! Turn around!” and a couple of whistles didn’t really narrow it down, but was enough to make me check to see I wasn’t being followed home half a dozen times), I have decided to write a blog post on being fearsome, one of my ongoing projects. Suggestions welcome.

  1. The look is not the important thing, but it is important. It is important because when you choose to be yourself you are committing an act of agency, and that makes you powerful.
    1. The most important part of the look is the walk. Walk straight and tall, or slouch — whatever you want. But here, I must be firm, because the way you walk is how people decide if you’re a victim or not. Stay in the center of the street, away from alleys. Walk with your purse slung across your shoulders. Walk with purpose, authority, and direction. Do not walk quickly; walk briskly. Do not show fear. You are the fearsome one, not them. You could be a psycho serial killer or an ex-marine, for all these men know. You don’t need to explain to them that you aren’t, much like you don’t have to explain anything else you damn well do.
    2. Fearsome women dye their hair or they don’t. They grow it long or they grow it short or they don’t grow it at all, but whatever they do, they don’t quibble about it. They do it because they like it. They don’t care if you like it. Weirder is better but nothing at all is a rebellion, too, if it’s authentic to you.
    3. Fearsome women wear makeup or they don’t. They might wear winged eyeliner and bloody red lips or they might wear subtle makeup, because they love the way it looks or because they like the illusory effect of it, the way it acknowledges that everyone, essentially, performs themselves; or they might wear nothing at all, because they like their face just as it is or hate the feel of cream on their skin.
    4. Fearsome women show lots of skin, or they don’t. Want to wear a hijab? Go for it. Want to have your tits out and a short short skirt and a transparent top? Go for it. Nothing is as important as what you are on the inside — confident, powerful, and in control. Wear color or wear black or wear a bright pretty white. You do you, girl.
  2. How you say it is not as important as what you say, but it might as well be. 
    1. Speak your mind, but be kind — unless the people there are being dicks, then go ahead and let them have it. Examples below.
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    2. Speak loudly or quietly, so long as you can make people listen. If your voice quakes, or you say something stupid, keep speaking until you communicate your point. It’s okay to stop and take a break. Don’t let yourself be shamed. There’s no point in shame if you haven’t done something wrong, and you haven’t.
    3. Swear or don’t. I prefer to switch depending on context, but I think you can be perfectly fucking eloquent with swearing involved.
  3. You can’t fight the patriarchy (the world, self-doubt, homophobic BS, etc.) alone. Make friends. 
    1. It is okay to call your friends and ask them to walk with you. Having a posse is awesome. Being alone at night is tougher as a woman, but you can’t deal with people all the time, right?
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    3. ….and while anything bad that could happen would be on the perpetrator, our world is madly flawed and dangerous, we do have to live in it practically. It’s important to stay in crowded, well-lit areas, to go into stores if anyone is following you (as my roommate had to the other day), and to have a cell phone handy to call the cops or friends with. Do not go out alone if you’re planning on getting drunk. Have a buddy, and ideally an extra buddy if said buddy wants to get laid. Get each others’ numbers and check in every few hours at pre-set meeting spot. Part of being fearsome is taking care of yourself and each other. 
  4. Be powerful. Knowledge + money = power. 
    1. More education = mo’ money. Mo’ money = mo’ problems the ability to support yourself without fear. Community college is a fantastic option if you’re having trouble paying the pills for university, and should be done without any shame. It really is the most fiscally intelligent option.
    2. Educate yourself about politics, feminism, your area, money, martial arts, legal rights, dancing, etc. Follow your passion but also learn the skills you’ll need to defend yourself if something goes wrong in your life. Preparing won’t make it happen, and bad things happen to everybody. Worse case scenario, your legal, martial, (mad sexy dancing skills, writing) or financial skills could help a friend!
  5. Look in the mirror. Your face, your body, what others see, it’s just a part of who you are, and while often a wonderful part, it is not who you are. You are what is underneath the face — the history, the choices, the will that takes what it wants from nature and nurture and shapes your life. If someone fucks with you, what they’re fucking with is pure, unadulterated will. Divinity if you like, the part of you that is one with the God “I am.” If you prefer the devil to God, then call it a will as free as the devil’s, capable of shaking heaven. “Hecate,” the name of the witch goddess of ancient Greece, literally meant “will.” People are rude because they are insecure, ignorant, and less often because they are monstrous. They may look at you and say that you are less and deserve to be treated as less because of how you look, talk, or walk. But you are not these things, although these things are you. You are the burning bush, the wind that moves the sun and stars, an amalgam of the heat of the sun and the dust of exploding stars; meaty electric nanobots crackle and fire in your brain, and sometimes lightning flashes when you touch the world; the cells in your body date back to the first life, endlessly replicated and altered. As a human being, you have the ability to do terrible things. We are natural persistence hunters, and the most recent mass extinction began when we started to travel the world, eliminating each gigantic species of animal in turn. We have split the atom, altered genetic code, and we like to set gunpowder on fire and inebriate ourselves with toxic substances for fun. We are the most intelligent, adaptable, violent and creative species on this planet, and we are almost genetically identical to each other (99.5%). They tried to tell you you weren’t, because they feared you, but remember this:
  6. You were born fearsome. Everyone who has come before you, every creature that became something that would become you, has survived for good reason, and so will you. When you die you will sit in the moment of space-time you lived through like an undiscovered island, bewildering and inspiring future generations, not gone at all but distant, removed, until we crack time like we did the atom. You matter, and the matter of your body takes up gravity, sitting in the universe like a petite bowling ball in space and time. If you weigh yourself regularly, think about that: my matter stretches the universe the same way a planet does. Isn’t that incredible? 
  7. Aren’t you?