Don’t let people pronounce your name wrong -
don’t let them see you walking home.
Don’t let them see your mother in the playground,
smelling of spices.
Bite your lip when you see a white woman in the street
wearing a shalwar kameez.
‘I’m on the way to a wedding,’ she drawls.
‘A friend got me this s-…this thing. Isn’t it pretty?’
I don’t know, lady. Tell me,
how much do you care about the merchants
who jumped to their feet and dove
through reams of fabric
to find the right one? Are you
trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be angry that
you’re wearing a garment I can’t wear
without eye rolls and insults and, ‘fucking
back to India,
go back to where you came from.’
I was born here, and I’ve earned my place here.
More so than you. I’ve had to work for it.
I’ve had to know my shit countless times,
be able to list off members of the government
on both hands,
talk this way, eat this way -
my parents stopped sending me to school with rice so early
because the other kids couldn’t fathom
lunches that weren’t sandwiches.
Can you even pronounce ‘shalwar kameez’?
Let me hear it, I’m not convinced.
I don’t know, my teacher had to ask me
how to say my name
three times this morning -
and each time I said it she would repeat it
slowly, squinting, as though it were made
from a different alphabet.
So I guess you could say I’m a sceptic.
Wait. Is that a bindi on your forehead?
Where’s your temple?
More importantly, where were you yesterday
when my Religious Education teacher was telling me
how the whites helped educate the poor little Indians
and that 1947 was a bad year for ‘us’?
My country’s independence was the Empire’s downfall,
and the Empire gave us nothing but pain.
My grandparents were driven off the border of Pakistan
and forced into poverty, and here was a person
trying to tell me that the colonies that terrorised my family away,
away from their homes and their cities and their loves,
did a good thing.
Where were you then?
I see the henna on your hands,
and I am here to say that my culture is not
a trend for you to love this season
and throw away -
is not your excuse to be ‘exotic’.
You are not welcome to pick and choose
the attractive parts of being me.
Take my mother’s bindi spot, take the unwanted
advances of old white men that come along with it -
they think we should be honoured to be hit upon by
a white man.
Take the henna off my hands, and take the sweat and blood
of Indian workers trying to make an honest day’s work
charging fifty rupees in the street to ice patterns on flesh.
Take my sari, take my shalwar, take my lengha
and take the low self esteem that growing up
in a white society has given me.
take it all.
Sunlight dances through coffee steam, igniting it into flames. #lovemornings
- I wrote this poem after getting mad that whenever I would mention a relationship or sexual encounter with a woman, there was some guy asking if he could film or watch us. Even boyfriends have asked me that. I cannot count how many men have said that to me. So I wrote a dirty angry sarcastic poem about it. Guys, girl on girl sex is not even remotely about you, and not your place to make it about you!
ps I wasn’t quite sure how to finish it. Hence the abrupt ending.
You want to film us
Broadcast our cockless imitation of fucking
A laughable pretence of pleasure just for you
Just for all of you alone just you yes you
You want to film us
Fumbling fingers look up for approval
Is he hard?
His and hers new toy-girl, our bodies move
He nods a rhythm Yes yes yes
Oral performance her moans must sound just right
You want to film us
And men depend on the screams sighs of a stranger’s thighs
Willing actor here, why bother without his eyes to justify
Male gaze gives meaning
To our sighing and screaming
Voyeuristic viewer no shame to his name
No threat to his manhood but everything to gain.
You want film us?
You ask if you can watch?
Nina Hagen in NYC (1980)
An Incredible Story: ” My Artificial Leg Doubles as a Musical Instrument.”
Meet the amazing Masami Orimo, the phenomenal woman who lost a leg in a car crash, turned a “cyborg” prosthetic leg into an instrument , as lead in her punk band Shampoo. She simply added a violin string to her artificial leg.
This came from a 32 year old man.
Literally all she said was “no.”
I’ve come to understand why, during my internet dating years, so many women responded to my inquiries (I promise I wasn’t creepy) by not responding at all. At the time it drove me crazy, the silence, even more so than the rejections. We’re both on this webspace looking to meet people, can’t you give me a simple “no thanks” so I know when to walk away?
Now I get it. If you’re a woman on the internet, every single interaction is a roll of the dice and you can never tell when that roll will come up “u ugly bitch” so it’s safer and easier to just not say anything. In the online dating world, that becomes common sense.
But never forget: there are men who don’t even wait for that reply. Just being a woman online can be enough to trigger a dice roll. Imagine if every tweet or article you wrote meant a personal insult came your way. Sure, you can block, you can mute, you can ignore, but eventually you’d start to wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to not say anything.
That’s how silencing works and it makes me furious. And to those who insist that women must “grow thicker skin” and simply “accept” the reality of online abuse, here’s a revelation for you: anyone who already suffers through a daily flood of insults or threats just to exist online has thicker skin than you. They’re the ones with the courage, not you and your false keyboard bravado.
To say nothing of the women who face real-life harassment every day, be it catcalls from strangers, an oppressive workplace, or a real-life stalker. Compared to them, we’re all cowards.
Bless you, sir.
Bolded for emphasis for a certain follower who’s constantly telling women to just “get over the fear” of creepy men.
Not responding, politely responding no, or aggressively responding no gets you the same type of response. We can’t win.
Judith Slaying Holofernes (The WiFi Sucked), 2013
by Tayler Smith
still laughing at my own joke