We women are not seen (poem)

We women
are not seen
as sovereign
but subject.

We women
are not seen
as full members
of society.

We are seen
as animals
as pets
as property.

While legally
we have the right
to vote
we have very little else.

Our bodies are seen
as things
to be owned
to be used
by others,
but not as our own.

We are seen as playmates
and not people.

It is as if we are members
of some foreign country
exiled from our homeland
surrounded by people
who have not granted us
full citizenship.

In short,
we women
are not seen.

Why do women have to cover?

Why don’t Muslims cover up men’s eyes rather than cover up women’s bodies? Why don’t they make some sort of headband/facemask combination that forces their eyes downward and makes it possible for them to only see a few feet in front of them while they walk? It would make life difficult for them but it would certainly stop them from accidentally becoming aroused by women and being unable to control themselves and feeling like they have to attack them.

They must think that women are very powerful and that men have no power at all. Merely by existing, merely by showing an elbow or a calf, a woman can cause a man to lose his self-control. If he has so little self-control then doesn’t this mean he has no self-control? Why do women have to cover themselves up for modesty when it is the fault of someone else if they cross a line?

If I am an omnivore, should I stop eating meat in front of vegetarians for fear that it will make them start eating animals? This is the same issue. It is saying that my actions control another person’s actions.

The Muslim faith is not alone in this. There are sections of the Orthodox Jewish faith that have women not only cover their heads because their hair is seen as sensuous, but the women have to shave their heads as well. The idea is that by shaving their heads (at least monthly) there is no chance that a hair will accidentally show – and thus accidentally weaken a man’s resolve.

I have a strong belief that the original intent of Islam and of Orthodoxy was not to control women, and to reduce men into knee-jerk autopilot sex machines. I believe that both faiths originally respected both genders. I have a suspicion that over the many years since the faiths’ inceptions some radical detours have been made by well-meaning, but control-happy people (namely, men).

How about we stop coddling men by making policies that say that women are responsible for men’s behaviors? How about we stop saying “boys will be boys”? How about we expect men to have self-control, and not feel the need to disturb (and I’m putting it lightly) women?

Poem – why is it that?

Why is it that

a woman who shaves her head is a feminist,
but a woman who covers her head is oppressed?

Why is it that

a woman who wears pants modern and hip
but if she wears a skirt she’s old-fashioned and uncool?

Why is it that

if she starts her own business she’s a trendsetter
but if she’s a stay-at-home Mom she’s a fuddy-duddy?

It goes on.

She’s too fat, too skinny
has too many clothes on, or not enough…

Women are seen as
to be looked at
to be judged, classified, compared
instead of as
to be allowed to live and grow and feel
as we are called.

It is done to us
and then we do it
to ourselves,
like adult children
of abusers.

It is about freedom of choice.
It isn’t a choice
if there’s only one option.

Day off?

I was listing to a Jewish podcast where the speaker referred to Shabbat as a day off. He said that God says “Hey I love you so much, why don’t you take the day off?”And then take the same day off next week off too.”

The person who was speaking was male. I’m starting to understand why in Orthodox Judaism one of the morning prayers is giving thanks to God that you were not born female.

Shabbat is not a day off if you are female.

Shabbat is making up for all the extra work you had to do the week before. On Shabbat you’re not allowed to cook. This means you have to cook twice as much the day before. You can prepare for this throughout the week but ultimately it means you have to do twice as much work in order to “take the day off”. The house has to be clean and everything prepared by sunset on Friday night. No work is allowed until sunset on Saturday night. It is like preparing for a major holiday every week.

It is similar to when the Jews were wandering in the desert. They were expected to gather twice as much manna on Friday because there would not be any provided on Saturday. Gathering twice as much or working twice as hard is the same thing. So it’s not really a “day off” so much as a day of recovery from all the extra work you had to do to prepare for your “day off”.

Poem – Women are not things.

Women are people first.
We are not things.
We are not toys or tools.
We aren’t something to use.
We do not exist for your pleasure or fantasies.

Our bodies are just the vehicles our souls ride in.

We do not care if our bodies are
too tall,
too short,
too fat,
too bony
for you.

We do not care if our hair is
too dark,
too straight,
too kinky
for you.

We aren’t for you, you see.
We are for ourselves,
first and foremost.

We are our own guardians,
our own nurturers,
our own teachers.

We do not define
in relationship
to you.

We do not need your permission
to vote,
to drive,
to work,
to feel.

We do not need your permission
to be,

We are not
objects to be objectified,
possessions to be possessed,
or fantasies to be fulfilled.

We are people, pure and simple,
and if you don’t
start treating
like that
then you are missing out
on half
the human race.

Stop trying to
get our numbers
get into our pants.

Start trying to
know us
as fellow travelers
on this Earth,
at this time,
with you.

Choice – not coercion. On defining women by relationship to others.

Women are defined by who they are connected to. Meeting new people, you’ll hear these questions – “Are you married?” or “Do you have children?” Both questions seek to define the woman by who and how she is related to others. Women are rarely seen as valid citizens, much less as people, if they are not connected. A woman who tries to define herself on her own merit and ability is in for a hard time.

Romance novels teach women an overwhelmingly unrealistic life goal of finding and keeping a spouse. Men don’t get this script. Ever. Men don’t fill themselves with a diet of definition by relationship to others. Men read about adventure, and superheros, and strength. The characters, their role models, are strong and independent. Women read about being swept off their feet. Men are active, and women are passive. Women’s lives are things that happen to them, acted on by others.

There are countless books for women and young girls about how to find and keep a mate – whether it is a boyfriend or a husband. There are specialized ones if the woman is over 35, where it is seen as more difficult to land a choice selection. The books are framed in the language of strategy and the hunt. Women have to seek out men, because otherwise they will be left out, and left wanting.

There are no books for men like this, and there are no books telling women how to live a happy life without a spouse, thank you very much. If you are single you are seen lesser-than. “Spinster” is not equal to “bachelor”. It should be. Being single, of either gender, needs to be viewed as a valid life choice, and not a failure. It is better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

Single women who wish to remain that way often go into nursing, teaching, or library services. All of these jobs pay enough money that a woman doesn’t have to have a spouse to support her. Yet all of these jobs are nurturing jobs. They involve taking care of and helping other people. So a woman is still defined by her relationship to others, whether she is single or not.

It wasn’t that long ago that women who got married lost their names. They were described as Mrs. John Smith – never as Mrs. Jane Smith. It was as if John suddenly developed a female alternate persona. It was never that the woman gained status, it was as if she just disappeared. By removing her first name and differentiating her by just her title of Mrs., she lost her identity as a unique person.

How often are women who have children referred to by the children’s names? She is “Sally’s Mom” – Sally is never seen as Jane’s daughter.

I bring these points up because sometimes you have to see injustice and imbalance before you can fix it. There is nothing wrong with being married, or having children. There is everything wrong with making those choices no longer choices, but mandatory. There is everything wrong with overt and covert social pressure to make women define themselves by getting married and having children. These are not life events that should be entered into lightly. These choices will affect a woman’s entire life. Women should marry or have children out of choice, not coercion, and know that they will be accepted if they choose not to do either of these things.