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

or both.

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.