Pain Management

The goal of the workbook is printed on the cover: own your womanhood. I appreciate that it doesn’t dance around the issue, and I’m relieved there isn’t an exclamation mark in sight. Even in my desperation that would’ve been too much.

My mistake in the past was in my assumption that since I am a woman, and have been for twenty-six years, this is something I would already know how to do. As it turns out, the rhetorical simplicity of the goal masks quite an involved process. Womanhood (summarizing the prologue now) is a strategy to be mastered in eight chapters, each of which includes motivational instruction, real-world assignments, and space for reflection. The process requires grit, the book warns, but so does life.

Chapter one sounds like a slogan for a midlevel accident lawyer: put the odds in your favor. Apparently in order to do so, you have to talk to men. As many as possible. Short, scrawny, one-legged, no-legged (my words). Meeting the right man is not a matter of fate but a numbers game. Fate is the new f-word. Fate is for failing.

Which is why I’m standing outside a bar, alone, on a Friday night. I’m not allowed to leave (the workbook starts with a pledge) until I’ve asked a man for his phone number.

People on couch
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