First of all, don’t keep asking us what we want. That too in the third person: what do women want? How do we know?
There are so many of us, which one of us are you asking? Also, don’t replace ‘women’ in this FAQ with babes, broads, dames or chicks. Try ‘you’ or a name instead.
Don’t crunch ‘what do women want?’ to just a plaintive ‘women!’ either. Unless we have multiplied before your eyes and stand before you in plural. As for throwing up your hands and walking off without a word, don’t take that tone with us.
Never be that woke dude all pseudo-allergic to patriarchy—it’s a common sales pitch, never works. Call us bro only if you like to be called sis. Any reference to PMS will be laughed at unless you are a doc. Don’t sext or stalk or slide into our DMs with ‘what are you wearing?’ We are always clothed head to toe when we don’t reply.
We do not want a boyfriend like Armie Hammer, who wants to crack our ribs and cut off our toe to keep. We definitely do not want to be barbecued or our blood gently sipped. As we make it clear in the movie Promising Young Woman, Thelma & Louise were no fluke. It may bring the conversation to an abrupt halt, but if we have to kill, we will.
Please don’t call us saint or sinner, naughty or nice, devi or dayan. If not ladies of the night, what are we, ladies of the day? We personally don’t have the time to divide ourselves into good and bad. It is all in the beholder’s eye. And nine times of ten, beholders are men. Maybe that’s what women want, to be invisible. To not be looked at. To dance when no one’s watching. Or not dance when no one’s watching. Basically, no one watching. Ordering blindfolds for everyone.
Author Madhavi S Mahadevan asks this question in a heartbreaking chat between two women in her new mythological novel Bride of the Forest, the story of King Yayati’s daughter:
‘What does a woman want?’
‘I don’t know… one day we will become brave enough to ask ourselves.’
So there it is, straight from the heroines of our own past legends. Only women can pose this question—what do we want?—and that too only to other women. It’s a sisterhood thing. Others who ask this are just indulging in gender appropriation and wasting their best eye rolls.
If we snap your head off when you ask us what we want, it is because we’ve had a long year, a long week, a long day. You always seem to catch us at a bad time.
Shinie Antony firstname.lastname@example.org