‘A Woman Should Have’ and Maya Angelou




Sometimes you land on the best things when you least expect it. It was ‘clean out the email folders’ today and I found this “A Women Should” poem in my folder marked “Inspirational.” Seems I forgot that I had such a folder, since the last entry was in 2009. There had to be inspirational quotes and other stuff I’ve discovered since 2009. That’s not the point though. 


Before I posted this poem, allegedly by Maya Angelou, I did a search so I could ascertain what year it was written. Funny thing happened on the way to Maya Angelou. This poem wasn’t written by her, it was written as a magazine article by Pamela R. Satran, a writer of several novels, in 1997. The original name was “30 Things Every Woman Should Know or Have by the Time she’s Thirty.” Soon this became a hot email chain poem and somehow became attributed to Maya Angelou. I can kind of see (and hear) her wise and warm voice telling us all what a woman should have, so I can see how this was attributed to Ms. Angelou. 

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE …

enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .
something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
a youth she’s content to leave behind….
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .
a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to
retelling it in her old age….
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ….
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE
one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ..
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .
a feeling of control over her destiny.
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to fall in love without losing herself.
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without; ruining the friendship…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
when to try harder… and WHEN TO WALK AWAY…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that she can’t change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that her childhood may not have been perfect…but its over…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW..
whom she can trust,
whom she can’t,
and why she shouldn’t take it personally…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
where to go…
be it to her best friend’s kitchen table…
or a charming inn in the woods…
when her soul needs soothing…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she can and can’t accomplish in a day…
a month…and a year…

I totally understand why this email went viral (can email be viral or just video’s?) and I love that the title was changed. I don’t think it was done with malice, but because it is applicable to women over thirty. Listen if I found this when I was thirty I may have paid more attention and had less angst.  It wasn’t until I was deep in my forties that I could say I completed the items listed in this poem, even the cordless drill. 









Categories: A Woman Should poem, Chingona, Chingonas, Faith, Maya Angelou, Pamela Satran, poetry, Strong Women, Wisdom

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