Venessa Marco, performing during prelims at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam. If you loved this poem, check out Venessa Marco & Tonya Ingram’s “Khaleesi”
The man behind the bodega counter asked me if I can deep-throat. Said, “You look like the kind of girl who can swallow; who can make a man forget that his girl can’t do certain things.”
In an attempt to respond I thought, “Irrational of me to be both woman and hungry, to confuse myself with the kind of person who has rights.” To be woman and house a body is to break all the floors. Is to know most men think your mouth a door. Think your mouth always open. Think you’re steadfast-ready. Think you back in their car. Their car loud as sirens. Their sirens break all the windows. You, woman, house a body that stay breaking. Creaking men think the fragments aren’t opening, walk through you, like your walls are an invitation; run their panels through all your floors. You don’t recall thinking yourself “welcome mat,” except for the fact that you came out the womb both woman and body. And men, like most people, want to crawl back into that body, and you, woman, house a body that both absorbs and expels. So, naturally, you’re the first they’re coming for. Dare speak, “Bitch, feminist, men basher.” Even though you ain’t bashing all men, just the men who think and act this kind of way. So, you, “Man hater, you be mad lonely, ain’t no man going to love you,” echoed loudly as if that’s the only accomplishment us women strive for. Like that’s the only role us women play.
Patriarchy is so evident, it seeps through every flaw you’ve got until everyone is calling you out your name. You, no longer Stacy. You, whore from downtown. Head game so good, got a man walking in the right direction. See how quickly you become a mouth again? A cavity? A temple and brothel, both cathedral and Jezebel? Cuddle and disparage you? Not just dressed up, high heels stopping pavement. You’re asking for it as if your body were an eager child who can’t use its words.
You, woman, can’t form words, but movement. Movement to man’s attention. Attention suggests you get everything you deserve. You, woman, get everything you deserve regardless if you wanted it because what do you know of desire except for what is told to you? What do you know of your body except for what is told to you? What do you know of what you’re needed except for what you’re needed for? What are you needed for other than a mouth and the right kind of softness? So, I stood there? My jaw a waving flag, legs the right kind of run-ready, and said, “If your girl can’t swallow, how does she eat?”
[PATRIARCHY lyrics found via Upworthy.com]