Capable women

1 min readFeb 22, 2023

When I was little some women

were hailed as ‘capable women’

“she’s so capable,” they’d say with pride,

voices swelling with unbestowed gold medals

heavy with implicit applause

“she’s so capable, she cooked for all of us,

last minute,”

“she never complains…too capable,”

“no complaints, she’s so capable,”

“she’s got osteoporosis but look at her

ironing everything at sixty five?”

“she can handle it,”

“she’ll get through it,”

“thanggod she’s so capable,”

“when her husband left,

she raised her boy alone,”

“she does all his research

and his laundry,”

“she’s so capable,” they’d gloat

“she’s so capable,” they’d warn

“she’s so capable,” they’d hope against hope

I looked up ‘capable’ on Thesaurus today

and it sang praises like everyone used to:

‘able’ ‘accomplished’ ‘adept’ ‘adequate’ ‘competent’ ‘efficient’ ‘gifted’ ‘good’ ‘intelligent’ ‘proficient’, ‘qualified’ ‘skilful’ ‘adapted’ ‘dynamite’ ‘fireball’, ‘has what it takes’ ‘like a one-man band’ ‘like a pistol’…

but the truth is when I was little

capable sounded like suffering

and each time a woman was called ‘capable’

I’d wonder why this was a good thing.