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Life by a hundred cuts

A poem

ben dalton CC BY-SA 2.0


Life by a hundred cuts,
that’s what it’s like.
It adds up, all the indignities
and anger I’ve been forced
to swallow.

Because I ran like a, 
threw like a, cried like 
the girl I was.
I had it etched into me,
being a girl wasn’t super,
wasn’t powerful,
wasn’t good enough for boys 
to emulate.
My nature was to
be ridiculed and rejected
as stupid and weak.

Now as a woman,
I am supposed to be always
grateful for the attention of a man
even if I want to be on my own,
alone, listening to what 
I want on headphones.

I am expected to oblige,
accommodate, humor, submit.
If I’m doing woman right,
and not being a “bitch”
or anything less than 
the stereotypes of hetero,
I give and give and give.

I smile when I’d rather not
because I’m prettier.
Because that’s my job.
Whatever else,
I must be ornamental.

I am an object to men, to myself,
I have been programmed 
to work at it, hair, face, body.
If I don’t, I lose my value.
That’s been ingrained in me.

I have to keep funding the beauty
industry that shames me and blames
me if I get fat, wrinkled, 
and gray as I age.
The cuts that sting with venom 
are those from my estranged, 
kool-aid drinking sisters
who judge me for being disruptive
and not very feminine.

Being a woman is to live
with hundreds of cuts,
and if you’re being yourself,
you risk being labeled as “difficult”,
or as having a “strong personality.”
I want to know, how many men
are described with those words?
Exactly zero, absolutely 
not a single one.

Men get to be strong,
determined, assertive,
while women are always sliced
into pieces and cut down to size.

It’s a life full of band-aids
and simmering rage.

This man’s world needs to be
reconstructed. It feels like 
it will never happen in my lifetime.


© 2018, A. Breslin. All Rights Reserved