VIRAGO definition according to Merriam-Webster:
1: loud, overbearing woman
2: a woman of great stature, strength and courage
Our WordBowl Word of the Day comes from the multi-talented multi-hyphenate Raquel Cion (click for details), herself no stranger to the prism of perception.
She continues to wear clothes befitting the larger woman she once was, a striking scarf draped about her neck to draw attention to her eyes, her best feature, according to family who always insisted she possessed a pretty face.
No one dared call her “pretty” now, despite a hard-won physical transformation. “Formidable” is the designation bandied in the professional journals attempting to inject rote corporate coverage with a few punchy adjectives.
As she climbed the ladder — male-dominant capitalism a linear trajectory, no allowances for ebbs and flows (of tides, of fortunes) — she straightened her cyclical self to fit the narrow confines of corporate culture. It did not require a keen eye to note no fat women held power positions. Fat, like emotions, shameful, domain of the weak.
Men, on the other hand, had plenty of corpulent corporate role models, their weight a less weighty issue.
She flicks through messages. Personal reflection at this juncture moot, a slippery slope towards self-pity, or outrage, neither productive. She has no time for journeys along well-worn paths bound for obvious destinations.
Although, hard to dismiss the unspoken rhetoric. Knowing looks passing between men, SHE’S MENSTRUAL. Casual gaze grazing the asses on a fresh crop of sales reps. Wary eyes, early career, as she arrived unescorted to corporate events, her male peers in jocular knots, their wives in conspiratorial cliques. Claimed by neither camp, she hovered between. Strategy or desperation: she spent her time chatting with the Chairman.
The company she is growing — not the one she assumed, the one she intends as her legacy — is mid-transformation, tension between what was and what will be is palpable. Good, decent folks jettisoned along the way, unfortunate cost of doing business, the business of the future, the future of now.
Innovation has a price. Her goal is to maintain a 50:50 ratio of haters to supporters. Same actions, vilified or deified. One man’s fantasy of a sexually confident woman, another man’s slut.
She sifts though design comps of the proposed corporate report, starts at a strange face, takes a beat before confirming it her own. Stylized shot, perhaps Photoshopped or not. She no longer recognizes herself.
A sigh slips from her lips, she catches it, inhales deep, exhales a powerful blast of air from her core. Power breathing. Gathers for the weekly meeting she dreads, “forecasting”, executive team clinging to their middle management assumptions, relying on sales projections and financial modeling as if future foretold.
She believes in acting on instinct — derided as “women’s intuition” by men suspect of talents they do not posses — instinct honed by market intelligence, experience. Risky, “ballsy” moves by her male contemporaries acknowledged as “gut calls”. Visceral, the male monikers. Attributes ascribed to her more mysterious, as though magic rather than sweat and smarts must play a part in her meteoric rise.
No magic, just equal-opportunity, gender-neutral luck.
“Luck”, with it’s connotations of moral overtones of deservedness, worth, virtue. “Virtue”, another loaded word, cocked, aimed, women in the cross-hairs.
“virago” hand written first at The Pierre Hotel (upper east side) post-viewing of Vermeer’s “Girl with Pearl Earring” at The Frick Collection, and re-written at Grace (murray hill), an Irish pub with a thoughtful cocktail list created by NYC’s top female bartender/mixologists. Caffeinated line editing took place once again at Housing Works Bookstore (soho).
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