this is not about all men

a poem by Carmel

When I say I’m afraid of men who mean me harm, you tell me not to make a fuss.

There’s no need for alarm, that not all men are like that.

Not to stress my pretty head or talk about those other men, just look at you instead.

But what if women suffering a slap, a punch, a shove? A life of menacing oppresion from a man they love?

Not all men are sexist.

Not all men disrespect.

Not all men are the man who harms what he should protect.

Not all men are vicious.

Not all men are brutes.

Not all men are the man who punches, rapes, and shoots.

Not all men use violence, most are courteous and kind.

But when I talk of toxic men, others feel maligned.

So I ask you to consider, when you jump in to defend,

How did speaking up for women become slandering of men? Why is it when I voice my fears, you first defend your brothers instead of listening to your sisters, mothers or your lovers?

I need you to hear my voice and listen to my fears,

But you just keep on shouting louder and my voice just disappears.

Not all men will listen.

Not all men understand.

You tell me you are not all men, a verbal sleight of hand.

I can look at you and love you and yet still be afraid.

While so much deadly violence still seems to be man made.

Do not usurp my story.

Do not tell me what to do.

This is not about all men, don’t make it about you.

The only reason why I re-write it here is because I still get a flashback from my past abuses. This poem helps me relate to other survivors who are afraid to speak up, just like me.

It’s not easy to openly talk about it ‘cause it means I have to recall the details of the events, which is always triggering.

And even when I finally have the courage to talk about it, some people think it happened because I let it.

I should’ve this, I should’ve that.

It hurts so bad hearing that comment from the people that I love.

They talk as if I didn’t blame myself enough, as if I asked to have emotional scars for the rest of my life.