Relentless Compassion for Women. {Poem}

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black and white woman

Warning: adult language coming up.

Existing as female: day 12,960.

you
leaning on my car
running hungry tongue
over smacking lips
greedy eyes
sliding over every inch of me

me
in my second job’s
uniform
hair tied up
my standard no make up

you
rubbing hands together
like you’re getting ready to feast
like
i am your prey
you remind me of a jungle cat on the prowl
with your head swinging low
and your shoulders moving as you sway
toward me

you
took something from me
when you returned my
neighborly hello
with words that told me
you think you are entitled to my body
my attention
my smile

you
still held the power
when i got in my car
and you kept knocking
you kept leaning

i
couldn’t peel out
like i wanted to
because i know what happens to women
when the men
they are fleeing
protecting themselves from
get hurt

she
gets decades to life in prison
she is the perpetrator
the criminal
and even if she doesn’t get locked up
she is incarcerated by judgments
“you shouldn’t have worn tight clothes”
“shouldn’t have gone out alone”
“shouldn’t have engaged him or made eye contact”
anything that tells her she
could have
should have
done something differently
to bring about another outcome

fuck.
that.
shit.

you
should learn how to smile and say hello
and leave it at that
keep your lusty ass thoughts to yourself
or tell your bros as i drive off

i
don’t exist for your pleasure
i’m not here to validate your feelings
i’m not responsible for your wounded ego
because
i
am just walking out of my apartment
to go to my car
so i can get to work
after a full day at my first job
and
i
don’t have time to go through all this
intentional work again
to manage my outrage
to keep balanced my conscious
practice of gender equality

i
hate that i can’t purge my roiling anger
without the guilt that i should make
caveats
explaining that true,
not all men act this way

without first celebrating those beautiful
evolved men around me who
daily rise above the mediocrity
of the masses to
be better
be mindful
be humble
recognizing their privilege
working with intention to be part of the
healing solution among genders
this is all true
i have deep respect and gratitude for such men

but this
is not
about
them
or even you
who inspired this fucking poem

this
is about
everything this stupid shit stirs up:
a lifetime of events
in varying shades of darkness

this
is about
how i came home tonight
and withered into a heap
grieved to feel this excruciating paradox pulsing within me:
of relishing
that
most sensual and vulnerable intimacy
that
roll-up-our-sleeves-and-do-this-work partnering with a man
and yet
bearing the burden of this unshakeable
droning fear
of most men

so while some men will take any opportunity
to bemoan the plight of men
to lament their unjust woes
and cry out at my
“irrational sensitivities”
i hope more of you
will give humble pause
listen
to the women around you
ask
them how you can support them
bite
your tongue when you are want to defend yourself with the
“but i’m not like that” statements trying to leap out of you
then
listen still
practicing relentless compassion
listening again
being present with unfaltering solidarity
finally
listening,
once more

 

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Author: Jennifer Alumbaugh

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Micadew/Flickr

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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Jennifer Alumbaugh

Jennifer Alumbaugh is an artist, visionary, and community organizer who who has been poeming her way throughout Los Angeles and Central Texas for over 9 years. She is the founder of In the Words of Womyn (ITWOW), an international grass-roots project empowering womyn–through writing circles in California, Texas, and Lebanon–to give sound to our story and volume to our voice. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or on the web.

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