An Open Letter to the Conservative Icon who Raised Me

A woman with long hair twirls in a meadow filled with sunlight

One week ago, I called in to the Dr. Laura show.

I’ll admit, I made all the mistakes that people make when they turn to talk shows for comfort. I was lonely. I was needy. I wanted Dr. Laura to validate my existence. I wanted to live out this childhood fantasy I had of being truly heard by at least one woman of my mother’s generation.

In other words, I called up a notoriously cruel and difficult woman in a tender emotional state. I wish I had known precisely how bad an idea it was.

I am struggling to be…


This response makes no sense, but I think I see some sexism.


The version of me that is Ben and not Kylo Ren sits on the other side of the picket fence that raised her. She is Batman and I am the Joker. I spit rhymes and I sing songs and none of it is any good, nothing I ever do will ever be as good as the thing she did by being born to rich parents who love her.

Rich parents generally love their children. Rich parents invest so much in their children. Parents who have a lot to invest, invest quite a lot. Still sometimes there is one child who…


I look at him, and he’s not a prince. He’s minor a handsome savior. He’s just a man.

He’s just a man, and he’s not going to save me.

I must admit, I am disappointed. I spent most of my life wanting to be saved. Assuming I would be. If I performed femininity correctly ie if I was the right kind of girl.

I’m disappointed in myself, too. I’m never going to be able to save him either.

I would if I could. Haven’t I been trying? To render the threat I represent obsolete? …


When I was 20 years old, I killed my best friend.

She wasn’t my best friend. I didn’t know her that well. I think she had a crush on me. I told her my co-op was safe when it was not safe. She moved there to be nearer to me but I didn’t realize that until it was too late. She wanted to be my friend. She wanted me to save her.

I couldn’t save her.

She told me she was raped and I told her all the right things. I tried to tell her all the books to read…


I am saving him in a 19th century consumptive kind of way that has me looking up youtube videos of him shouting things years ago to crowds of people I wasn’t in and I wonder if he looked for me, in those crowds of endless people but I figure he had at least one blonde girl in his bed keeping him warm, and I wonder if he ever even missed me. I made a deal with the devil a very long time ago, the Jewish-looking Jewish women of my lifetime made a deal with the devil to murder ourselves so…


I get lost in what I didn’t do, what I didn’t say.

Like, hi, how are you, can I be your forever friend?

Girls learn early not to over-romanticize. Especially girls who look like me.

Class and beauty norms and then there I was, making poetry

out of every goddam word and

he was right. Nothing Happened.

(But I wanted it to.)

Nothing happened, except in the parentheses, the margins.

Nothing happened, and I only told everyone else I loved him.

I think he must have been horrified.

I think someone must have told him and he must have been…


I know how this is supposed to go.

I call the ambulance. The hunky ambulance drivers hop out. They shout exciting and dramatic-sounding phrases like “go go go!” and “this woman needs a doctor, STAT!” The ambulance flashes lights as the paramedics drive me to the hospital. I am swiftly diagnosed by doctors who look like they’ve just strolled off the set of Grey’s Anatomy. I go in for surgery before the commercial break, and when I wake up, my parents greet me with tears in their eyes.

What happened to me was somewhat different.

I went to the ER…


There will always be a skinny white girl whose parents love her, telling me that people will treat me better if I learn to love myself more.

The self-esteem revolution is about individual change replacing collective action. It is about the concept that if I only value myself, then rape, and poverty, and disability will no longer affect me.

It is, in a word, nonsense.

But it is very compelling nonsense. It is the idea that no one needs to fight for me, or even notice that I am in danger or being hurt. It is the idea that every…


Toxic masculinity says, everything that’s wrong with you comes down to the way you don’t control your emotions.

Toxic femininity says, everything that’s wrong with me comes down to the way I don’t control my body.

I hope I will find someone someday who loves me for the ways I love my body. Who will love me even when I eat or do not pluck my eyebrows or do not shave my legs or do not wear eyeliner or do yoga rather than go to the gym.

I loved him when he cried or laughed or was himself. …

Rivka Wolf

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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