Nevertheless, She Persisted

It turns out they want us silent. (We women were unsurprised).
It’s easier that way, stops them from hearing unpopular opinions
Like that we want to be paid the same for our work, for our efforts
Like that our bodies are our own and not meant for their personal use
Like we are humans, not dolls or toys or objects, not campaign tools,
Or statistics to prove a supposed gender inclusivity, or brainless things,
Or sex machines, or the thousand other things they want us to be.
Vagina, we discovered, is a dirty word, even when discussing medicine.

At every turn, they shush us, diminish our voices, teach us to be passive,
Wielding a patronizing tone as a way to convince us we are wrong
When we try to speak about our own bodies, our own stories, our own lives.
Maybe if they interrupt enough, we’ll finally learn to not start talking at all
Maybe if they mock our pitch, our inflection, our words, we’ll shut up
Maybe if they put enough of their words into mouths that look like ours,
On the screen, in our books, we’ll learn to parrot back what they want to hear.
And God forbid we should reclaim the words used to put us in our place,
To decide that bitch is now a badge of honor, nasty our favorite adjective.

To their shock (and our secret pleasure) it is not so easy to muzzle us.
What they forgot is that we are not the first who would not be quiet.
They cursed Cassandra with disbelief and still she proclaimed the truth,
They burned Joan at the stake and still she spoke on her smoky pyre,
They cut off Lavinia’s tongue and hands and she learned to write in the sand
With just a stick and her stumps – do you not think we will do the same?
You sew our mouths shut with string and we will scream through closed lips
You burn our books and we will brand the words on our bleeding skin.
Do you not understand that we are done being silent, static bodies?
We would rather be the thing that you fear most.  We would rather be loud,
Be messy, be imperfect, be real, be absolutely anything but speechless.

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