Man Up

Man Up

I have worked with women

who love their men

even

as his hands grip her throat

and he gloats,

whilst watching her choke,

over how she takes him back

by the time he counts to ten.

I have seen the courage of women

who leave their men

alone

with pregnant belly and two children

in a land of words foreign,

she prays I answer my phone

and find her a safe home

where he’ll never touch them again.

I have felt the pain of women

caused by a system

that didn’t lock up their men;

he only raped her yesterday

and she tells me she’s okay

but the tears spilling down her cheeks

give her fear away

as a lack of evidence gave him his freedom.

Here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men.

All convinced that they knew them,

so now don’t all go thinking

that it could never happen

or you’d never let yourself

be in that situation

because we’re all in motion

on a spectrum

of tolerance and bystander inaction,

and to think

that those who get bruised

are any different

than you is fiction.

Being a victim

is not an addiction,

but a symptom

of the macho masculinity affliction

that sees violence

as an ever acceptable reaction,

or that too much testosterone

is the real problem

whilst breeding the notion

that this is the natural order of things

instead of asking the questions,

why do some men hurt women?

and why is violence such a deeply gendered phenomenon?

and why are these instead not defined

as gender crimes?

Worded as ‘women’s issues’ and ‘violence against women’

whilst men’s part in the process

is the invisible omission,

like there could be another explanation

to gender relations

and we just aren’t keeping up with the times.

So here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men,

and if you think

that you’re a good one of them,

then what are you doing

to be part of the solution?

Herland

Herland

Once upon a time

in a faraway land

there lived a group of females

who, together, would stand

in collective strength and solidarity

no sister an enemy

no need for competition or jealousy

for there existed no man.

They all dressed for comfort

hats without silly feathers

for their appearance was their own

not to please any others.

Owned by none, kept their names

treated all creatures the same

leaving all animals unchained

one with all Nature, as Mothers.

Through the guidance

of the elders

all cared

for their younger

no role in the home

as a female full grown

had a life of her own

and she was slave to no master.

Known for their brains

and not for their bodies

neither waited upon

nor offers to carry

the gifts bought to impress

to maintain ultra-femaleness

in return for sex under duress

or an expectation to marry.

Life was more simple

when the only duty they had

was to love themselves most

and each other as much as they can

and at close of day

to God they would pray

in trust and good faith

as their God was a Woman.

Trigger TV

Trigger TV

When even broken bones

burns

bite marks

internal injury

Her story

Her reality

is not considered worthy

neither for a charge

nor being found guilty,

when even without

Her words should be

Enough.

Maybe

if being an amputee

wasn’t internal

then you could see

as clearly

She wasn’t privy

to the memo

from the CPS and jury

about what constitutes believable,

since giving a reliable account

takes a PHD,

and to what degree

She just takes up your precious time

being angry.

Tell me,

is it as much

as he took Her body?

Goggle Jogging

Goggle Jogging

As your eyes

run down my body

and stop

at the top

of my thighs

it would be nice

if I could go ten minutes

without being objectified

as I’m trying to exercise;

I’m not interested

in catching fucking flies

so go take

your dick brain

someplace else for your fun,

my body

is no one’s matter for pleasure

unless it’s me

that’s the one

turned on.

Leading Lady

Leading Lady

This is your gentle,

daily reminder

that yours is never

the lesser life.

Do you hear me?

You are not a supporting actress

to an existence

you no more deserve to hold;

your role is the Heroine’s journey

and the path ahead

is adorned with gold.

Fuck Slimming World

Fuck Slimming World

This poem speaks for itself

and my distaste for diet programmes

that program women

to project

society’s preferences

for our shape and size and self-esteem

onto the surface area of our skin

like it doesn’t matter

what lies within us.

For what happens

when we go back to basics?

Meet barbie,

I had sixteen of those

barbarically shaped

smile faked

false representations

for a woman full grown,

the only thing she was perfect for

was her plastic home.

I used to play-pretend

they were ballet dancers like me

pirouetting across the stage

like how

I was so vulnerable at my age

that I worried there were calories

in toothpaste,

or the time I watched

a teacher at my ballet school

put a single lettuce leaf on her plate

because she was ‘watching her weight’

as every other ten year old girl copied

when all we really wanted was the chocolate cake.

Then meet my mother

who measured my food intake

and commented on what I ate

till my relationship with food

was filled with hate

whilst my stomach stayed empty,

and it took till I was in college

to appreciate

that food could have a taste

that wasn’t guilt.

For my sister

this lesson came too late,

she’s spent half my life

in and out of hospital

as her body wastes away

into a state of decay

and I don’t know if she’ll ever get better one day

or if I’ll get the chance to say

to her face

that she does not need to be reduced.

But mental health doesn’t work that way

neither does mine

it just fills me with shame

that my mother’s voice

still goes around in my brain

like she still measures

the size of my waist,

and I am still fighting

to lay claim

to a body that has always

been mine.

Then I go to work

where most of the women

attend weekly weigh-ins

and they speak of sustenance

as a ‘sin’

and the bin

is full of weight watchers wrappers

but just as full as the biscuit tin

which most of them still go in

because society’s pressure to be thin

is too much to hold in

your stomach.

So not many pounds are lost

but their love of self is

and they comment

‘how can you eat what you like and stay slim?’

because they have no idea what goes on within

my own mind,

and I just wish us women

would stop comparing ourselves to one another

or instagram pictures with filters

when the only scale we seem to consistently stand on

measures how critical we are of our sisters

or wishing we had another’s features

when we were designed by the universe

to be unique and individual creatures

but instead

our insides are starving

whilst women’s magazines beat us

for looking like our genes.

Is mine the only soul screaming

to be free

of this fucking hypocrisy

that tells us to love our bodies

when we’re still compared

to the tits on page three

or the pliable and barely legal

that dominate the porn industry,

because if it was up to me

I’d like to see

a few more hairs

and stretch marks

and natural beauty

on babestation tv,

and then we wonder why

women get plastic surgery

and go under the knife

like we’re a fucking carvery,

because we’re so hungry

for some basic regard

we’re robbed of any capacity

for creativity,

and that’s how they get us

in the end.

Because there is no ‘supposed to be’

in the human body

and your power doesn’t come

from how much botox you’ve had done

or if you’ve survived the day

on chewing gum.

It depends on

your insides

and how much you feel,

if there’s joy in your heart

and wild lust for what’s real,

because we’re not man-made models

we come from Mother Earth,

our bodies are fucking miracles

so why do we shun if a woman has skin rolls

after giving birth?

Like it’s only your post-baby body

that determines your worth

as a mother?

And everyone’s got a beach body

so if you’re at the beach

and it’s hot

you’ve got nothing to cover,

and if you sit on the fence

it’ll never blow over,

and then where does that leave

the next generation of girls?

Because I want them

to be born knowing

they can run

the fucking world.

Life/Death/Life

Life/Death/Life

You happened upon my skeletons

and helped name them,

you see ours

and clothe them

for the funeral of all endings.

If I am Lady Death,

you are the instinct

which sings magic

over all that is tangled,

and sheds tears

to join our souls

into a force

that loves a lifetime,

till all I can hear

is the drumming of our hearts,

teaching us

that love and life

are to be lived

by the bones.