Tables come in all shapes and sizes, but every table has finite places. What are you supposed to do when that table is occupied, and no one wants to give up their seat? Do you sit on the floor and hope to hear from a distance what is being said? Do you try to interject as loud as your voice will carry despite gazing at a row of backs? Maybe someone in a seat will hear what you have to say.
Do you try to wedge yourself between two seats, hoping there is enough space for your body before the ones seated become too uncomfortable with your proximity as you stand over them? You know it is a matter of time before you find yourself squeezed out again.
Others, like myself walk into this grand dining room from the outside, thirsty and aching from the long journey. It can be exhausting watching the dance of musical chairs around the table. You edge closer waiting for your chance, feeling dizzy as you try to keep up. Now imagine the clothes you wear are different. You are told you are not dressed for such an occasion. Red robes with gold trim, a hood is optional. The robes are packed so tightly together they could be mistaken for a gate that has no lock or key. Do you give up and settle for the floor, or do you question why your clothing matters? It could be vibrant silks from your home or hand dyed indigo of cotton you raised yourself. Perhaps it is not the same style, but are we not from different places? Who decided the dress code? The ones seated at the table that only admire each other’s red robes in their sameness.
Women and women of color want a seat at that table. And not just a seat, we want to drink from the Devils’ Cup that is being passed around because for far too long we have been denied a taste. The fruits of our experiences squeezed and refined, but not for us to drink.
Don’t forget, it is the Devils table after all, no one is perfect. We all deserve the fires for one reason or another. Why don’t we all, together make the most of it. Those that have sat for long periods might need to stand and stretch, offer their place. Someone could shout to their neighbour to move aside because a few inches can be spared if you really try. Understand that although you might have a red cloak, it doesn’t make your position better than mine. Cloaks hold no authority that we do not give them. I don’t want a red cloak; I want my own clothing.
If you were the one on the outside trying to find a way in, would you not make your presence known?
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yes, it is wonderful there are more female characters in books, however, it is not enough for more men to write women or white authors to write people of color without giving us a fair share of telling those stories ourselves. When people of color or other marginalized folks point out an ignorance it is not cancelling, it is making that institution or person accountable. Words have power. We are tired of giving out free passes. There is a certain Troll in our times that claimed to grab women by the pussies. This is an extreme example; however, he too was given a free pass for these outlandish words. Do I need to rattle off more names given passes that resulted in years of abuse?
This is what I have to say about cancel culture. If you continually prod a caged creature that is muzzled or has its tongue sawed off, expect a snarling venom soaked bite. You deny a voice, expect teeth.
Women want a chance to write their own experiences because unless you have lived in this body, transitioned from a body, bled from this body, pushed another human from this body or been violated in this body, no amount of research can give you the raw emotion or first-hand knowledge of what is like. Some stories we want to tell and to systematically deny us the opportunity in favor of someone else is hurtful and does nothing for equality.
I am not saying you shouldn’t write us because we exist in your world. You have women in your life, and we are part of your narrative, but for the love of God give us space. Hand us the cup and let us fill ourselves too.
V. Castro is a London based Mexican American author. Originally, from San Antonio, Texas culture is her first inspiration. She has many stories she could tell you, but she’ll save those for the books 😉 Her Instagram is littered with old photos of her early years growing up in Texas. She’s also been fortunate enough to travel the world, which heavily influences her writing. Motherhood has also shaped what she writes and how she writes it.
Besides writing, she loves to cook, travel, try different cuisines, browse grocery stores in foreign countries, binge watch Netflix, watch horror with her sisters and drink wine whenever possible. Life is too damn short.