• 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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