This one’s for the female forest workers. To women who never complain and push through pain, who must swing back and forth between being one-of-the-guys and being a woman. We pull more than our weight to keep up, and often surprise ourselves.
To the women who hate shitting in the woods, but do it. Or, like me, would rather take a solemn shit in the woods than any place where humans have gone before; a latrine, a privy, or god forbid, a public restroom. To women who silently deal with menstrual cycles (Oh, the fickle love with Mother Nature.) The shiny pink plastic applicators and sterile white cotton scream unnatural when squatting over dirt and leaves, hairy and smelly, watching a spider crawl into your underwear.
To us women who let our body hair grow regardless of social norms. And not as a
hip feminist statement, either, but because it’s practical. In the woods, women’s hair doesn’t need to be tamed. It is forgotten. As men’s beards grow longer, they stroke and gloat. Food and bugs get trapped in their growing beehives, but if you tell a man that food is in his beard, he will not remove it and tell you to get used to it. They talk about shaving as a past-time, and revel in the rebelliousness of refusing to shave no matter how much their mother’s beg.
Women don’t speak about body hair in front of men. But we, too, experience new sensations. The wind and the water. Not shaving breeds self-questioning, nags at self-confidence.
Or perhaps, for her, it’s easy. She wonders why she ever shaved to begin with. At first, her armpit hair, like a shy hamster, is unwilling to come out of its cage, but occasionally peeks to see who might be out there, watching. With time, she is interlocking fingers behind her head, breathing deep into her bra-less chest, letting armpit hair frame her pretty face. So if men cringe at female body hair, I say f*ck these double standards and get used to it.
To us women who work tirelessly on the trail, and then walk into a bar to remember full well, we are women. Men flirt and fantasize. He makes grabs, growling under his breath. Eyes longing like water; titillating, raging, and yet serene. A place I wish to bathe, to unveil the mystery scents of my body, knowing well that I don’t smell like daisies and underneath my clothes is skin, scratched and bruised.
When men are tired and hungry, we act maternally. Feed them and rub out the knots in their backs. We make tiny sacrifices, over and over, often out of sight and sound, because we cannot help but love them regardless.
We, too, flirt and fantasize, our sexuality equally powerful. Men are but wild blueberries that we may taste, or devour, or squash in the palm of our hands and let stain.
We could lead the dance, and sometimes do, but a firm hand on our backside is what we want. We want to be picked up, seized, yet we fear getting caught in the claws of a settled heart. In search of independence, we run from tradition. The forest is freedom, but love is a root ready to snag our toe. We want to know who we are but not of what’s to come. We want to jump into the water and, at the same time, be thrown.