In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m re-posting a prose poem I wrote a few years ago. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed below.
I am woman.
Hear me roar.
That’s how the saying goes, right?
And yet, you’ve never heard me roar,
never so much as a peep or complaint.
My mother taught me,
“Don’t expect too much from the world,
The world will only disappoint you.
Don’t expect too much from the world.
Then you’ll never be disappointed and no one can hurt you.”
Such wise words, I always thought.
Look at me now, I’m so happy.
No expectations, no disappointments.
The hurt would come and,
like a good little girl,
I would swallow it up.
Over time, it slowly built up,
like a heaving, suffocating burden,
so that now,
I’m all filled up.
And the hurt the disappointments the heartaches,
they’re boiling over and pouring forth
Still I tried not to show it.
I tried to push it, stuff it, lock it
all right back inside.
I hurt myself ‘cause I didn’t want to hurt you, world.
Didn’t want to hurt you, ‘cause I was scared you wouldn’t care.
And perhaps you don’t.
I’ve had it wrong all this time.
My mother was wrong,
as was her mother before her,
and her mother’s mother before her.
They taught us that,
we have little worth in this world,
so better not to expect, to rock the boat, to stay in line.
Be a good girl,
be a good wife,
be a good mother.
Ain’t nothin’ better than a self-sacrificing mother who puts her needs at the very end of everyone else’s.
I’m a saint.
I’m an angel.
I hurt, I cry, I get angry,
when you don’t laud my achievements as much as my brother’s,
when you think my desires aren’t as important as my partner’s,
when friends and colleagues don’t show me the courtesy of calling back,
because their time is so much more valuable than mine,
when I am branded either a prude or a prostitute,
while, conveniently, “boys will be boys”,
when you don’t think to offer your help in the kitchen,
and instead, ask me,
“What can you offer?”
like I’m the waitress at your favorite diner.
What can I offer?
What can I offer?
Dude, what can you offer me?
When my profession asks me to work just as hard as anyone else,
take stress just as much as anyone else,
see my kids just as little as anyone else,
then pays me a salary lower than everyone else,
they’re telling me
“You are not worth it.”
The world has said this to me in so many ways.
And I absorbed it, believed it,
inculcated it into my life,
wove it into my being,
and proudly spread the message to my sisters.
“You are not worth it.”
My worth lies in what I can offer,
in the pristine condition of my private parts,
in the voluptuousness of my body,
but only if it’s in all the right places, otherwise,
in the waif-like silhouette of my figure.
I am not worth it.
I don’t need some profit-hungry make-up company to tell me I am, just so I’ll buy their products.
I need my parents to say it,
But most of all,
I need to say it.
Now I wonder, why in the world did I grow up idolizing Cinderella,
who let everyone walk all over her, as she whined in her sing-song voice to her mice,
when instead, I should have respected her Stepmother?
At least she was honest about what she wanted,
and went after it with a passion,
rather than running away at the first signs that someone might see who she truly was,
and losing her ‘glass slipper’ in the process.
(I wear Aerosoles, bitch.)
Because that only happens in dreams, right?
with the help of fairy godmothers we didn’t know we had,
who randomly decide to bequeath us with magic?
You can’t give me magic.
You can’t wave a wand and expect its sparks to transform me into something more precious than I am now
although I may not always know it,
although you may not always see it,
I am the magic.
I’m the magic that makes this world go round.
You don’t even know how lucky you are to have me, world.
If you call me a bitch now,
I will take it as a compliment.
If you call me “too ambitious” for single-mindedly going after what I want,
I’ll think I’m doing something right.
And if you say,
“What else did you expect?
She’s a woman after all,”
Then I’ll make sure,
in fact, I guarantee,
you will hear me fucking roar.