Animus (for Nancy)

she says she thinks
she is part man
in her thinking
& turns to her friends
to validate a femininity

that is visible
to any eyes but her own
measuring her face
in the mirror

but that mirror lies & hides
what is really there;
it is made to magnify flaws
and distort perception

that mirror
will never unmask
her ideas of what men
& women are
or where she feels deficient

I am not the best woman
to answer her, but I do

I tell her there is a spark
of animus/masculine energy
that flickers in the spirit of every woman

& hers is simply more awake

& she is no less a woman
or more of a man
for fanning it

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Animus (for Nancy)

  1. Rhonda says:

    You know what? For what’s it’s worth, which may not be much…but if I had a friend make a comment such as that, if with a negative connotation, I would NOT question the woman who thinks of herself so….but the MAN that made her think it.

    We ALL have times when we must be more one than the other…I hope your friend realizes it is a GOOD thing. Being able to see ourselves in such a way is NOT a flaw! How can we raise sons without our willingness to acknowledge or use our ability to ‘wear the pants’ once in a while…without risking raising chauvanistic, non-empathetic, think women are second-class, neanderthals?

    If we, as women, cannot identify with and be at peace with, the “masculine side” of our nature…how can we appreciate the “femininity” we sometimes require….no, NEED, from the men in our lives? And how could we possibly look our sons in the eye and ask “Why do you treat your wife that way? Or Why are you raising your daughter that way? OR Why are there no female executives at your place of business?” etc., etc.

    Not knowing the conversation to which you allude, this may be completely off topic…but it struck something. Guess that’s why I wrote my piece entitled “Woman…Raise Thyself”. (shameless I know)

    (please forgive the use of your comment box as a soap box)

  2. nelle says:

    Such insight… As one who spent the bulk of 57 years working through the consequences of a birth defect out of sorts with my gender, Now if what she seeks is resolution to deeper issues in the realm of me, the dynamics shift.

  3. A voice challenging conventional images of femininity and masculinity; a voice charged with compassion, barely subduing its anger, as it struggles to help a friend deal with and overcome the stultifying power and corrosive force of certain gender stereotypes! I like the voice. It has given us a good poem, but I think that apart from special mirrors that are created to distort for effect, most mirrors are neutral and the image we see in them is the outcome of the dialogue between us, our visual apparatus, the lighting conditions and our our emotional state. Unless “the mirror” is someone else and in that case, the question then becomes “why surrender to another person the right to frame, see and define you”? Do that and you risk being framed! This is getting too long and I am lapsing into incoherence.
    At the heart of this song is the question – what does it mean to be a man or a woman? what is our model of maleness and femaleness beyond biology? and the mirror’s model? Is the mirror’s model and template a female only exclusive femininity one? and what is this? and is this absolute? and universal? Amazing how many questions a good song can get one asking? Let me stop asking and simply enjoy the song, then! Well done Susan.

    • You are far very perceptive, my friend…I was clumsily trying to turn Nancy’s husband into a mirror–a quite flawed one–(love the “framed” comment–brilliant!). Like the questions–have no ideas what the answers are.

      • Susan, some of the answers are blowing in the wind! As a I read, your poem and your follow on comment, I remember a line from Tracy Chapman – “All you got is your soul” ….I would add self concept, self respect…and these we must never “lend” to other people to define, draw and determine for us! Know what? Try substituting prism for mirror! Then imagine a prism of unsmooth surfaces, and you will be amazed at how some prisms imprison the viewer, distort perception, and tempt and allow the viewer especially in situations of power asymmetry to try to define and frame the viewee. “Too much sermon mars a benediction mass”, the catholics in my village say; so time to shut up and sign off for the day. And the day just began over in your corner whilst we are hurrying the sun off over here to go feed its children!

        • Prism–yes! Fits what I was trying to say here much better. Agree with never allowing the self to be defined or distorted by others–that it sometimes happens is tragic and infuriating…indicates a disturbing lack of self-worth. Thanks for sharing your impressions and thoughts here–off to take care of some work documentation & then outside to attend to the garden for a while.

  4. Some how I saw this song on its way, gaily flapping its wings as it flew to Twitter! I will delete the tweet if you mind, but I have tried in one of my write ups on Twitter to challenge sexism in one article on the use and abuse of social media…and your poem and the discussion trail should help to widen views on this vexing issue!

  5. Dewey Dirks says:

    Well said. I know someone who this poem describes pretty good

  6. Mr. Walker says:

    Susan, beautifully said. I just had a very similar conversation with my wife. She sees herself much this way. I, myself, am not the most masculine of men. I teach elementary school children and write poetry; enough said. Thank you for affirming this point of view. We need more of this.


    • Thanks so much, Richard. I’m glad it resonated with you. I think most healthy relationships have a balance, a nice exchange of this energy–only when it gets twisted up into something it is not meant to be does it become problematic.

Comments are closed.