I’m proud to be a woman.
I’m proud to fuss over small details,
like my eyebrows, or the way you drive.
I’m proud of the women before me
who refused to lie down.
And of the men in my life
who have never looked at me
as more than a good friend.
What I’m not proud of?
The self-defense manual we’re assigned at birth,
convincing us that unless we’re armed,
we are to blame for the harm we are dealt.
That I feel more akin to a plastic mannequin,
than the men I work with.
Because I know that just like me,
she’s probably been the target of sexual insinuation.
She’s been tossed about,
placed below a man’s belt with laughter all around.
Because that’s all they can imagine
she’s good for.
Not realizing that their baiting
perpetuates centuries of our suffering.
And I’m sorry, but
I’m not sorry that being “appealing.”
doesn’t much interest me anymore.
I’ve heard enough.
Enough of being called “sweetie.”
By old men who see no harm in
the proverbial sugar cube
that signals I’ve gotten too rowdy for their tastes.
Enough of being expected to smile because
“I look prettier that way.”
Of the connotation behind “resting bitch face.”
I like to think of it as an adaptation, anyways.
Much like the batesian butterfly,
who mimics poison in its wings,
I, too, aim to ward off predators.
And why, like clockwork,
does fighting for equal ground signal a witch hunt?
So, for the last time.
I will say this slowly.
Before you have the chance
to make this a personal attack,
I am not talking about all men.
I’m talking about them:
The ones with the hungry eyes,
animal pools shining in them.
The ones who keep trying to convince us to stop fighting.
They are the face of aggression, of “masculinity,”
the ones who destroy young girls, palms outstretched, insisting
“she was asking for it!”
Not realizing that you can kill someone
The poltergeists in every dark corner of the streets,
prowling for what they think belongs to them.
They are the reason that we fear for our lives.
They hide behind masks of congressman.
Leaders. Lovers. “Nice Guys.”
They laugh in the face of our oppression.
The very same ones with polished shoes planted firmly
at our backs, and while they lick their lips and obsess over our
soft skin, they insist that our screams for equality are
“asking for too much.”
“Look at all the rights you have, now, little girl,
isn’t that good enough?”
Because my trans sisters aren’t taken seriously.
Making light of the scrutiny they face
because they don’t look like the women
in the porno mags that they deny aren’t realistic.
It’s not [fucking] funny
when they are being murdered for it.
It’s not, because my sisters of color
are still treated like exotic game.
They are not your splash of variety.
There are not enough hours in the day
To list the ways that their sexuality
Is demonized, robbed of its validity.
And there is no such thing as equality
when we still have to convince the law
that we should have control of our own bodies.
44 years later and we are still trying to row and wade
through these thick swamps that are
sticky with the blood sweat and tears
of the women who came first.
We are not equal
when our nipples are illegal.
Except, of course,
when they want to sell beer and magazines.
When “feminism” is used like an insult.
And when we stomp down their consolation prize
they scream the “F” word with eagerness,
enraged that we are no longer content
with being their shadows.
It’s our turn.