I Prithee, Miladies, Please Don’t Use This Slogan On Your Protest Signs

Ok so it’s Wednesday and we’re all looking forward to The Weekend!, looking forward to going out and supporting Planned Parenthood in Washington Square Park or wherever your local rally for Planned Parenthood is, and as we take to the streets in what I’m hoping will be the Women’s March II: Nevertheless She Persisted, I have a humble, humble, *squeaky voice* humble request to make.

Please don’t use this slogan on your sign:

 

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
– William Shakespeare

 

I wouldn’t ask for such a favor if it hadn’t been weighing on me for a very long time, since 2008 in fact, and I have provided the photo to prove it! In February 2008, I played the role of Helena in a community theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I learned two things:

Number One: peach is a surprisingly good color on me (the proof is in yonder pudding, friends)
Number Two: that quote isn’t actually feminist or empowering at all.

 

In fact, in that speech, Helena is trash-talking Hermia, who is Fifty Shades of Pissed Off because she thinks I (Helena) stole her boyfriend. One might construe the context of the scene to be (and I hate this term) a “catfight.” Two ladies fighting over Lysander. It passes the Bechdel Test, but mainly because the ladies turn from talking about the guys to talking shit about each other. I mean, I enjoy being called “thou painted maypole!” as an insult, but let’s be real: this is a ‘short people’ dis, perpetuated by people who didn’t Google the phrase first. Sorry/not sorry for bursting your bubble, please don’t come after me, but if you do, know this:

“I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray.
My legs are longer though, to run away.”
   – Helena, Act III scene 2
(That means I’m gonna run away from you. It’s from the same scene.)

 

So when I see that quote being misappropriated to empower women, I am instantly transported to the Land of Cringe.

Not just because — and to quote another classic, The Princess Bride — “I do not think it means what you think it means,” but because I’m going to have to bit my pompous tongue lest I start to rant about how you can’t take quotes out of context and

 

“Frankly, I’d prefer not.”
– George Washington

  (when asked if he wanted mustard on his turkey sandwich)

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