Way back in the 1980s when I was working for a criminal defense attorney, we had a client that would call from prison once a month on Fridays at 3:00.
My boss couldn’t or wouldn’t always want to talk to “Bobby” so the responsibility fell to me.
As a result, I learned bits of “prison wisdom,” such as “We’re all doing time, I’m just doing it here and you’re doing it out there,” and “Since I’m doin’ life, I’m never gonna’ get out. To me, ‘out’ is ‘in.'”
Among them all, however, was what Bobby told me about his take on women that I have never forgotten, not that, given his circumstances, he was any kind of expert on women.
“There are three types of women,” Bobby proclaimed.
“Earth Mothers, Biker Chicks and Dolls.”
“Think about it,” he said. “Look around you when you go shopping or to the movies. Think about it when you look in the mirror. Look at the way you dress? Your makeup. The way you talk.”
“Which one are you?” He asked.
I did think about it. I found his categorization, while over-generalized and two dimensional, to be intriguing. After all, I could use these identifiers or aspects or categories to learn more about myself if I wanted to.
Which one was I?
Was I an Earth Mother only when I dressed like one? Or was I an Earth Mother in my core and was that why I dressed like one? On the other hand, was I an Earth Mother only or was I an Earth Mother and a Biker Chick and a Doll all at one time. Or, did it depend on the circumstances and the times of my life?
I decided I did want to learn more.
Way back in my 1970’s Transactional Analysis Days, I was introduced to a simple journal technique that helped further explore these aspects and found the exercise to be enormously revealing.
If you’d like to try this journalling exercise to find out which of these different aspects, masks, goddesses and/or energies of womanhood are parts of you, start with taking out three sheets of paper and writing at the top of each one, “Earth Mother,” “Biker Chick,” “Doll” and follow these three simple instructions:
1) On each sheet of paper, make two lists, one list titled “Positive Adjectives” and one list titled “Negative Adjectives” and write all the positive or negative adjectives you can think of on each list. (For example: Positive adjectives for Earth Mother could be “nurturing,” “kind,” “helpful. Negative adjectives could be “overbearing,” “controlling,” “unhappy, ” and so forth. Make the lists as complete and exhaustive as you can. When you are finished, your Earth Mother sheet, your Biker Chick sheet and your Doll sheet should each have two lists on it, one list of positive adjectives and one list of negative adjectives.
2) Now, go back to each of the three sheets and circle the adjectives on each sheet that also describe you.
3) On a fourth blank sheet of paper write your name at the top. Write all of the circled adjectives from the three previous sheets onto the sheet with your name on it.
What you’ll end up with on your fourth, named sheet is a list of adjectives comprising a complex description of yourself that you may have not known before. You may even end up with a sheet describing an incredible Earth Mother/Biker Chick/Doll woman who is greater than, more resilient and insightful than and more fun than the woman you ever knew you were.
My greatest awareness, when I saw my final sheet, was how all of the adjectives stood side by side, showing I was not only the Positive Adjectives or only the Negative Adjectives, but that I was both at the same time and that my positive aspects didn’t cancel out my negative ones or the other way around.
I found this to be a highly integrating experience. No more did I think of myself as “only” my negatives characteristics or as only my “positive” characteristics for that matter, but I thought of myself as both—which was a more comforting and even more authentic experience of who I am as a woman.
I ended up making several more sheets, adding other aspects of myself such as “Baby Girl,” “Wild Child,” “Wise Woman,” “Tomboy,” even “Whore,” and each time, I unpeeled layers of the onion of my psyche that I hadn’t known were there. A very interesting part of the exercise was how many adjectives I shared with aspects that I didn’t think I had anything in common with at all or that I even had an aversion to.
For example, “Doll.” I could not relate to “Doll” at all—that is, until I made the lists with the Positive and Negative adjectives, which resulted in my having quite a bit in common with “Doll,” after all!
Ultimately, learning from a guy in prison about Earth Mothers, Biker Chicks and Dolls, turned out to be an enlightening and simple adventure of self-discovery for which I am still grateful today.
I hope you like it too.
Thank you “Bobby,” from all of us!
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Tim Parker/Flickr