Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tell Me

A poem I wrote in summer 2012. Trigger warning: sexual assault, victim blaming.

Tell me

You tell me what I should’ve done, could’ve done,
What you would’ve done, had you been there,
Been in my shoes, been me. Had. You. Been.
But you weren’t, aren’t, and will never be me,
Never be a woman, never will be.
And so you’ll never see.
You see, I was caught off-guard.
Because I wasn’t on guard;
No one warns you, “En garde!”
In a public place, in a safe space, in my personal space.
When we’ve met face to face
And it’s exhausting to always be on guard,
To always be told to always be on guard,
To always be told, always, “You should’ve.”
Always, “You could’ve.”
Always, “Well, I would’ve.”
But you didn't and you couldn't
Have been me, been in my shoes.
Never will be, and so you can't see.
You see, I was knocked off guard
And thrust into an unfamiliar place,
Suddenly not a safe space,
I was knocked off guard and put in my place.
And there was no more ‘my personal space.’
He thrust his face into my space, stole my space,
Wrapped his arms, iron bars, around my waist
And didn't even notice how I struggled to escape
Because he knew a woman's place.
And then you tell me,
“Well, it’s not like he raped you. So what?”
Or, “So you were in the past and you panicked.”
“So what?”
People have actually said these things to me.
So what?
So what it is is I’ve come to understand I
Do not deserve respect as a person
Because I’m not huMAN; I’m a woman.
I understand that.
I understand that I
Do not deserve respect for my body
Because my body does not belong to me.
But to politicians and their missions
To legislate ‘Christianity’
“All women under Man as God decreed.”
Because if you’ve got the equipment, then you’ve got the right
To me and me and mine and my body,
To take as you please.
To grab, to kiss, to touch, to hurt, to hate,
To own. As you please.
"You're such a tease."
I’ve heard that, too. Accusingly. Vitriol bitterly accusing me.
And I’ve heard, too, That a woman can only be
A Slut, a Bitch, or a Prude.
A bitch is a slut who won’t sleep with you.
Because she’s a bitch.
Not because there's anything wrong with you,
Because no, that can’t be true.
And even if I were a Slut (and maybe I am, so what?),
I’m not for you, Any Random Man,
Man I’ve Met, Or not.

So what if I am prude?
Well, I should know that’s really very rude,
Not to sleep with you.
And so, probably, I deserve to be cussed out,
To be harassed. To hear you to yell and shout.
To be grabbed. To be trapped.
(And now tell me what I should've done, what you would've done.)
Because that’ll learn me for being a tease.
So go on and tell me, please,
What to do. Tell me what I can do,
What I should do, what you would do.
For me? Nuh-uh.
For you.

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