When a highly respected British director tells me I am
not feminine enough, I do not immediately understand.
I wonder if this is an acting note or a personal insult,
whether he was making a
point as a director
or as a man
The play is
Women Beware Women,
I am Bianca, a sixteen-year-old girl
who has just been raped. I wonder what that means
to Him, to Mr. Director, who seems to have all the answers,
who wants me to be softer, sexier, more seductive, more Woman.
I want to tell him that when a young girl has just been assaulted
she may not want to be all things to all men, but instead I
assume that he must mean me; I—not my character—
am not feminine enough, my face too plain,
my body too short, my curves
in all the wrong places.
Tell me, Mr. Director, was I feminine enough at ten years old, when the man down the street coaxed me towards his car? Was I wrong when I said no and ran in the opposite direction?
Was that too strong of a choice? Was I not kind enough to him?
Should I have made the rejection gentler, more polite?
Was I feminine enough when my love, he,
he thought no meant convince me?
Was I feminine enough
stumbling home alone
at one in the morning,
when a man stopped me in
my tracks to say what he wanted
to do to my body. I still wake up from
dreams where I never made it home that night.
My neighbor filed a noise complaint because he could
hear me screaming in my sleep. Is that feminine enough?
Mr. Director, did you ever consider that maybe I know what
a sixteen-year-old girl would do in this circumstance because
I was once a sixteen-year-old girl without a voice and I will
not let you tell me to be more when I know what it’s like to
feel less? Mr. Director, if I am feminine enough to garner
the unwanted attention of the male strangers I pass in the
ten minutes it takes to get from the subway station to
my apartment, I am more feminine than I want
to be. This may come as a surprise to you,
Mr. Director, but women are not just the
sum of their parts. Mr. Director,
even if I am not your ideal
woman, I am still
Nicole Heneveld is a poet and playwright based in New York. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts and has won several writing awards, including the Donald Axinn Award in Poetry and the Robert Muroff Scholarship in Creative Writing.