American Woman

You want to know
What it’s like to be a
Woman in modern day
America? Home of the free?

Forgive me when I say,
I am pretty. And how that changes my experience. Aesthetics aren’t always choices made.

When I walk down the street
I dare not say I am
Fearful, but
Cautious
Hyper-vigilant
On guard.

Knowing that I am the object
In a sea of faces
Removes my mask

To be the female subject of the
Patriarchal society is just
A fancy way to say what we have always really been
Property.

I belong to no man
I’m not looking for a man
To whom I want to belong.

I want to belong in this world
Embrace it in all its narrative
Splendor. The spectacle that is life
And not defined by the type of my
Stereo sound board that echoes
From my shadow in the street.

I want to embrace fashion without consequence. I don’t want to learn to protect myself because I should have never been marked prey.

Still, I pray that I can just keep
My mouth shut when I hear him screaming, “damn baby you fine. you gotta man?” Because I don’t have a man. But I am doing fine.

No matter why or what he has said to me, I look at my feet in defeat. Unless my impulse kicks in. Fight. Or. Flight. Will always stir a “Fuck. You.”

But I don’t want to fuck you.

I want to stand in line at the gas station and not think about how short my shorts are or regret that I didn’t put on pants. Because it’s too hot for pants.

I want to wear a dress and still be strong and not reduced to a slight variation of who I am by some stranger who wants to tell me I’m cute or pry into my personal life asking about my relationship status.

Public and private has gotten confused. We need to remember respect. In public and in private.

And when I wear a skirt, I don’t need to be told I’m disrespecting myself when I know that disrespect is coming from that gaze.

And when I hold fast to my principles, I do not need to be marred a shrew or a prude.
And if I want to have a one night stand, I reserve that right as much as you.

We women may have made it out of the kitchen, but it won’t be long before we feel that’s where we belong. Because in our kitchens at least we can be who we are without being questioned or threatened.

My body is mine and mine alone. It is my most private and intimate relationship I have. But I cannot leave it behind. When I enter the public arena, I bring her with me always.
It would be nice, if you respected her, too.

If I could only be pretty in private I would do it. Because to be pretty in public means I am prey. So tonight, I’m praying for the strength in my bones. To keep me safe. With my
Caution
Hyper vigilance
And guard up.
I am free to be
Feminine property
On the land of the brave.

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