Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day Stained Red

This is a personal post that delves into politics. If that's not your thing and you just come here for horror, that's totally cool. Feel free to skip this, or scroll to the bottom of the post if you just want to read one of my new final girl horror poems.

Today is the International Women’s Day. Today, women across the country are striking in support of the Day Without a Woman Strike, to bring awareness to the myriad ways that women are still not equal in our society.

But not enough women.

When I planned on writing a post in honor of this day, I intended to write something full of inspiration. Something uplifting. Something to honor the women who have fought for us in the past, as well as the women still fighting for us now. I had so much hope that this day would manage to replicate the effects of the historic strikes in Iceland and Poland, where 90% of women showed up and caused real, tangible change. Finally. Because in 2017, we are still not considered equals in our patriarchal society.

We are not considered equals by our president, one of the most (rightfully) scrutinized men in the country, a man who is meant to lead our society by example. We are not considered equal within the military or the job market or the doctor’s office or the home. We are not protected, and we are not given the tools, or often even the right, to protect ourselves. We are not victims whining for handouts or special privileges, but we are victimized by this toxic culture. All we want is something that is, to my mind, fairly simple: the same rights and privileges afforded to men in every way.

And yet, so many women can’t seem to see these things like I do. They can’t see the things that so many disadvantaged, poor, minority, disabled, and trans women do. Or they’re choosing to ignore it.

Before I wrote this post, I tortured myself for far too long looking at comments on Twitter about today’s strike. Comments from women – generally white, middle- and upper-class women – proclaiming they don’t need feminism because their lives are just fine.

And you know what? They’re probably right.

If you are not a minority, if you are not poor or disabled or generally seen as “other” (i.e., the enemy) by society at large, your life probably is fine just as it is. But to ignore the lived experiences of other women who are now screaming for our recognition and aid – if you can’t even be bothered to acknowledge the struggles of those women, or worse, choose to outright deny and silence their experiences – well. That is a shocking and disturbing lack of empathy. That is cruelty. That is you becoming the oppressor.

So. I’m not writing this post with the hope and confidence I wish I had. I just don’t have it in me today, and I can’t put on false bravado in the face of so many people – my people, including white liberal women I thought I could count on – perpetuating a culture that actively harms us. I am hurt. I am hurting. And I know there are millions of women out there hurting so much worse than I am.

At the same time, I know that there are so many women doing the work of striking and marching and fighting for those of us who can’t seem to find it in ourselves right now. Not enough women, probably. But enough to give me the small glimmer of hope I need to hold on to. For some of us, it’s the tiniest wisp of a flame, and it’s always in danger of burning out. But if we help one another, if we do what we can when we can do it, I think we can keep that flame alive. We can stoke it on little by little, until we are able to pick up the torch ourselves and run with it.

Today, I’m doing what I can. I’m wearing red and abstaining from work and consumerism in honor of those who can’t afford to. I wish I were marching, but as someone with anxiety that is currently somewhat crippling, I can’t get myself out of the house. So I’m writing this. And I’m hoping that for now, it’s enough.

And one last thing: a poem from my upcoming feminist collection. It’s not the triumphant poem I wish I could post, but it’s the poem I’m feeling today, in solidarity with other women who are grasping at what little faith they can. Because if I can't be the strong woman today, at least I can write one into existence.

Under the Shadow (2016)

Separate yourself, like sliding wire through
clay. Divide your organs - heart, lungs, tongue,
and brain. You think you need them all?
You’d be shocked what a woman can live
without. We’re like roaches, we thrive,

pull our tired bodies through war, things
we never asked for, with children strapped
to our backs. Now don’t forget the smaller bits:
tonsils, gallbladder. Your ovaries, your veins.
A box for bile, another to keep you sane. Make

a plan. Mark each box with an x and let it sit.
Let it fester in the dark, grow mold, grow rabid
with disuse. Your personality is apartments,
doors that can be closed. When they come
they’ll take pieces, they can’t carry it all.

They can’t change you, too much. Can’t know
what you do at home. Just try not to howl,
or shudder, when you see: when it happens to us
it’s for the best, but when it happens to them
it’s tragedy.

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