Ain’t it funny,
that I was more frightened of the man who said “Hello”
in the parking lot at 9pm,
than of the haunted house I visited only an hour beforehand?
Filled with ghouls, zombies, and gore
I laughed and felt safer,
than when I speed-walked from my car into the grocery.
When I fumble for my keys,
on the way out from yoga–
I percieve a strange voice in my head saying it’d be fair
if I was found dead.
Because I wasn’t smart.
I didn’t think ahead.
I didn’t get my keys out first, fingers poised on the unlock button.
I went into the night with them heedlessly in my purse instead.
I lower my eyes to the ground, when I pass a group of men.
Not because I think they’re better than me or deserve submission,
but because I know eye contact might cause more contact and I’m wary of them.
My heart skipped a beat,
my pace quickens.
For you see,
I’ve been trained–
to be defensive, uncertain, and suspicious
and to laugh half-heartedly,
when they make jokes about me washing the dishes.
Because I’m a woman,
I’ve been trained to fear men.
From age eleven,
I’ve felt their self-affirming gaze.
I’ve been felt up, pinched, winked at and touched when I didn’t want it. When I didn’t ask for it. When I didn’t deserve it.
I was taught to watch my drink,
watch my skirt,
watch my make-up,
watch what I say.
I was taught to take up less space,
because my tits are in the way.
I was told to walk a fine line between skanky and virgin…
and I guess I still do, even to this day.
With a sense of grateful relief,
I recall moments that might have been dangerous–
for there is more to be worried about when enclosed in a room with one or more of them,
than when enclosed in a room of a hundred women.
“Go fuck yourself with your women’s lib shit.
Be a dyke then,
you bra-burning bitch!
It’s a whole lot better than it used to be, you should be thankful.
What were you wearing anyway?
Goddamn feminazis, it’s not all men.”
You’re right it’s not.
But it’s most of my friends,
quite a few in my family.
It’s mostly women who’ve suffered sexual assualt.
It’s mostly women who’ve been raped, domestically abused, slut-shamed, and left to rot.
1 in 5,
is a lot more than a dentist’s recommendation.
Honestly, I don’t blame men.
I have a sweet boyfriend who loves me,
a father who is gentle and supportive,
and an older brother who played video games with me, gave me a bow and an arrow, and showed me rock music.
I played with my twin boy cousins–Star Wars, Halo and bears, oh my!
Truthfully I feel bad for them.
“Suck it up,
be a man.
Don’t cry or feel”
is what we’ve told them.
With that bottled inside, it’s sure to boil over in ugly ways.
How ruthlessly we treat our babies,
whether girl or boy.
And those that are inbetween, we austracize, politicize, or terrorize
all because we can’t decide which gender construct trauma to inflict upon them.
Forcing myself into those sanctified social-heels,
constantly proving that I’m stronger and smarter and kinder
I stand upon pinpoints and feel like I’m about to tumble–
with my wobbly ankels I can’t help but wonder…
How can it be that my soul is lesser?
Because of what I was born with or born without?
How is it that the God who created me,
created me to follow a patricarchy?
Women shouldn’t speak in church.
Then why do people encourage me to preach?
Women shouldn’t lead, they’re too weak–
then how come people look to me to make sure we don’t sail into a beach?
Those who silence and dismiss must have forgotten,
neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,
for you are all one.
Yes, I am woman
and I’m glad I am.
I’m half the population,
and together we complete the Genesis.
But I don’t want to be wary of men.
I don’t want men to hide their fear, or grief, or joy, or weakness, or sensitivity.
I don’t want men denied parental leave or custody.
I don’t want men drafted.
I don’t want little boys to be bullied or teased for having a baby doll–because teaching a male child good parenting or brotherly skills must be detrimental.
A being shouldn’t be harmed for their masculinity or femininity.
I want us all to be judged by what’s in our souls–not in our pants.
I want us all to be empathetic and see the value in our mutual lives.
I want to be more scared of haunted houses, than of the man who said hello in the Safeway parking lot.