• Charmaine Lising

“You Women”



For every finger you point at us

there are three fingers pointing back


at you who make the claim that we are preposterous


for carrying the fear of attack

that happens on the streets behind our backs


and sneaks up on us in both broad daylight


and the blacks


of night.


For every comment said to ridicule our fears

and label us crazy and paranoid


what does it take do you enjoy our tears


that brim with anger as we shake

to have our voice heard to have you say the words


that we understand


that we are men who will never know what it's like to walk in a women's shoes


but even that is untrue


as we women have to tiptoe to silence our presence


so that we can not be found there is evidence


that we choose not to walk but to run in the shoes


that you say we should always carefully choose

when going out but how ridiculous


is that.


Do you think that we wish it upon ourselves to be the target

of your kind that preys on the weak


instilling chills that we shall never forget

of what it feels to be power-less


in the presence


of lived experience,

it is traumatizing no less.


--


Was I to blame for that night I was alone


hoping for peace on my own, but no

they said I could not choose my safety


for I will always be to blame for actions that somehow always make me

the one whose name you cannot say


because you dare not look me in the eye


and tell me that it must have been her but not the guy

do you see the reason why


this is unacceptable.


You would rather clean your image

and restore your reputation


than save a woman from another


hoping you'd be spared her explanation.


Do you ever wonder why our thoughts are flooded


with scenarios that could happen

with deep fear we are gutted


in our minds just waiting for when.

I have pride for myself


but feel so much shame for the moments


where fear overcame


and I threw away my identity

for a second I would blame


that there was an ounce of woman in me


because had I not been a woman


maybe they would just leave me be


and let me walk on the streets or enjoy a nice drink


to walk with no fear and be free means


to be he.


--


But I am a woman


and for some reason that gives you the right


to shut me down and doubt


what sights I have seen with my own eyes


have you ever seen a man stare at you with hunger

while you wish his patronizing gaze


would go away and not linger

upon your face as you look for a different way


to escape even the look in his eyes says every reason to be afraid.

It is privilege to be able to stare back in return


and not have it be an invitation


for them to approach it makes my stomach churn

to think that you gave yourself permission


to enter my space and violate


the only body that isn't yours to take.

How often do you take no for answer


or how often have you had to say no

to fight off an advancer


why don't you ask her


how many times she's had to tell her story

for someone who wasn't a woman


to say he didn't ignore me

but that he heard me cloud and clear


that enough is enough

but why did I have to say enough twice


didn't you hear me the first time?


---


We go about our day


hoping to stay out of your way

but you place yourselves in our path


and have the audacity to say


that we could have done something different

to avoid it.


You may not be him

but the fact that every woman is she


is not based on a whim, but that


we were all in a place where we wanted to be

anything but she,


a woman said to be crazy

who couldn't out run he


should've valued my safety

but instead questioned


the few things that could break me

and strip me of the woman who makes me.


How do you ask for help


from those who wish not to be blamed


and explain


that it is not about them, but about you


who to them has no name,


but a face and body to prey,


I pray not to go insane and live up to the name

that we are given


when asking you to hear us


yet you refrain from opening up the possibility to

believe that is us


but never you.


--


Even our name belongs to you

there is men inside women and man inside woman


this concept out loud reads out the words rape


yes it is a word do not silence what is true


that we are desperately trying to escape


even these bound chains attached to you.

We are always on the run from yes you the son,


have you ever looked at your daughter, your mother


your friend, your wife, your sister,

and wondered that if you had just listened


to her


then maybe


she wouldn't fear


those around her and feel sincere.


You say "you women"


and generalize us collectively,

but for once I'd agree


because "you women" refers to the idea of she

that girl and every woman has been and will continue to be.


Do what you do best when you strip women

and do it till all that's left


is men so that


"you women" become "you men"

and only until then


will every woman have to continue to be she.

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