A Lady

Amazonian beauties, boldly charging on horseback, singing out a fierce, golden war chant and wielding spears…

Mean-mugged, scantily dressed females hopping around in the octagon, dealing out heavy blows with a tiny fist…

Suit-clad sophisticates with painted nails and sharp eyes closing all the big deals from their eyries in the big city skylines…

Shabby dressed and bespectacled super-thinkers, masterminding lobbyist groups, organizing protests or even-if they’re truly sincere-rescuing stray cats…

Big hair and an airbrushed face, armored in designer clothes ,speaking softly behind a pulpit…

And lastly, the Hollywood-type Agent _ who never wears anything that doesn’t flatter and somehow manages to chase criminals and terrorists down in heels and never miss a target with a handgun.

You understand who I’m talking about. The Modern Woman. She makes all of us regular gals with a husband and kids feel as if we are the weaker vessels. Every magazine has one of these displayed, peacock-like, on the cover; every record label their own female anthem to blast into the air. The ‘Modern Woman’-who may or may not be real -is just a puppet, purring propaganda.

I can think of at least one type of woman doesn’t run with that bunch. For all of history, she has walked the same path, and in the last couple of centuries, emerged only as a fluke, and nameless. She does nothing for applause; gives no nod to the worlds’ vote on whether or not she is authentic or significant. And even though the world has tried to redefine her, the labels don’t stick. By the same token, she takes on her role without considering it to be a yoke of servitude. It’s likely she is flanked by a husband, a father, brothers and sons who truly and deeply respect her.

Generations of women have spent quiet lives on the land and raised a family. That doesn’t look like much in print. Consider though, that each of them chose that life on purpose, and “sacrificed” whatever they “might have been” to be beside their man and behind their children. And they didn’t raise their fist and crow when they had to spend all day plowing behind a mule, or shoot an antelope for camp meat, or break colts, or feed and bust ice-doing men’s work. There’s just work. Work that women do better than men, and work that men do better than women but it’s not ‘your place’, it’s your specialty.

Since watching over 400 breakaway ropers compete leading up to RFDTV’s The American, the world is buzzing with the news: women can rope! I reckon women have been roping since as far back as horses, cows and ropes have existed. Taking a glance around where I have grown up, it’s almost comical to compare the ranch gals I know with the Modern Woman in a cowgirl costume. In fact, the gal’s I know are in such a class by themselves, they deserve a different category altogether. They are ladies. These women have modesty and self-respect. Their character, humility, compassion, bravery, faithfulness, beauty and brilliance dwarfs the feminist-propagandized Modern Woman, and these ladies simply can’t be hijacked into promoting that agenda.

This blog used to have a tagline. “Tales, Tips and Wisdom from a cowgirl’s happily ever after.” I removed it, and here is why: the word “cowgirl” just doesn’t have the same meaning it did for me growing up. I’m not against it, and I don’t mind being called a cowgirl. But in the context of the world outside ranching, the term is meant to assert feminist pride and/or a pin-up image. You know, the old “anything you can do, I can do better” all while dressed to tease. Not my line.

A milestone in my life was when I was almost sixteen, and the phone rang. My mother answered. I could tell by her voice she was a little surprised by something, and then she handed me the phone. After a minute or two of “Yessir’s” from me, the conversation was over. I had just been asked to come daywork for four days on one of the bigger ranches around. Just me. By myself. I had only just gotten my drivers license. (They had to be really short handed to have asked me!) I was nervous and excited, and it was four days of 4 a.m. mornings by the end of which, exhausted me. I was the only girl on the crew. There was no sympathetic ranch wife to cook meals, we just packed lunches. They played a prank or two on me, and taught me a lot of Spanish while I taught my young horse what it meant to work when you’re tired. I got yelled at a bunch. That wasn’t the last phone call I got for daywork. I was honored, and had to try hard and make up for a lot of things I didn’t know and wasn’t good at.

“Well look at that damn girl,” I heard one hand say to the man next to him. They laughed, but they weren’t making fun of me. I had held up a trotty bunch of Brangus cows by myself, a feat which while nothing spectacular, would have been a challenge for anyone. They were just glad they didn’t have to do my job for me. I was holding up my end on the gather…making a hand.

There’s a word I would prefer over being called a ‘cowgirl’. I’d rather be called a lady. And when it comes to the work we do on a ranch, I wouldn’t mind just being called a hand.

11 Comments on “A Lady

  1. Cheyenne, you are both a lady and a hand. High praise indeed for a woman in a “man’s” world.

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  2. Love this, and I must say you are spectacular lady, bringing life with your words! Thanks for sharing!!

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  3. Giving voice to a pretty much seemingly “voiceless” group of women. Thank you for your honesty and wider-angle “camera lens” view, Cheyenne! These women, like you, are among my heroes!

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  4. Really enjoyed this,Cheyenne. You hit the nail on the head for sure! I don’t know many “modern women” but have loved many “hands” including you and your writings. God bless.

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