Sylvie Robinson

What It Means to be called Woman

Sylvie Robinson

What it means to be called Woman

They will never understand what it means to be called woman 

To condition your brain to speak in a higher voice

To subconsciously fulfill the “meek and small” role 

Even when we know we are nor meek nor small

Conditioned to believe that they should be stronger

So, most of us speak like this 

But when talking with our girlfriends

Or at home with our families 

We speak like this 

We make our voices weaker to avoid our strength causing problems and ruffling feathers 

They have never been told they talk too much in a room full of those that dismiss their powerful sound 

The thoughtless attitude that makes you feel as though your voice will never be listened to, try as you might 

That makes you feel like no matter what you do you will never be as heard and valued as your counterpart 

They have never watched, “How to be Respected in the Workplace as a Woman” on YouTube at 2 a.m. 

They will never know how enraged it makes us when we gather the strength to use the same tone, the same powerful volume, the same violence as they do, and suddenly we’re insane 

They have never tried to unlearn saying, “I might be wrong, but…” or “This might be stupid, but…” before presenting an idea, despite their personal confidence in it

What, to them, may seem like a harmless dishes or laundry or sandwich joke, to a woman is a reflection of our designated “place”

Our fixed unimportance 

They have never been asked if they need help carrying their textbooks 

They will never truly understand, though they might try, their subconscious bias 

They have never heard “Come here, kitten” when walking a desolate sidewalk 

They will never know the terror that blazes inside of us when someone follows behind us at dusk 

They have never clenched their keys between their fingers for their lives 

They don’t check under their cars for men with knives before stepping in for a drive after dark  

They have never asked the person that handed them a drink to take a sip before handing it to them 

They will never understand the powerless feeling of being held down and forced into 

They will never be told, “You know you want it” even when they’re screaming that they don’t 

They don’t understand the impact of their language 

How it’s how many women were raped last year and now how many men raped women

How it’s how many girls were harassed at school last year and not how many boys harassed girls 

They don’t know how their use of the passive voice here creates a political effect 

How their words shift the focus off of men and boys and onto women and girls

Even the term “violence against women” they dont understand 

It’s a passive construction; there’s no agent in the sentence

They say its a bad thing that happens to us, but when you look at this term “violence against women” nobody is doing it  

It’s something that ‘just happens’ to us 

They aren’t even a part of it

They don’t know how we as a society can’t even hold them accountable in the language we use when describing the violence they perpetrate 

How do we ever expect to hold them accountable in something as significant as a court of law? 

They don’t understand the impact of their laws against us 

Or maybe they do and they’re completely comfortable with the system they designed

Maybe they don’t mind destroying lives and collapsing futures 

Maybe they don’t mind not tending to those less privileged than them 

Those that fall victim to a polluted power structure 

As long as they “Do Jesus’s work”

What an oxymoron. 

They will never be suppressed by laws that allow someone who has never lived your life, and has never tried to wholly understand it, to decide what happens to it 

Decide how your story ends 

Decide when you bring a child into a world so broken, so tattered 

The same people that voted that Friday aren’t going to vote for healthcare services or childcare or services for mothers 

Leave that up to the non-profits and the churches 

They simply want power 

Control over a group of people that have worked to hard to be free from their rains 

To maintain their freedoms

They have never been in our skin 

And most of the time they don’t try to imagine it 

They instead live in a state of blissful ignorance 

Ignoring how their kind have hurt, controlled, undermined, and horrified us for as long as we have lived 

They just allow us to rot in the cage of injustice 

Desiccate behind its cold bars 

We scream at the guards 

Try as we may, we still are told — when we use our voices to cry for mothers, for sisters, for ourselves — that we are crazy

That we are wrong 

They will never know of our grief

A grief of our voices

Our grief of our choices

I found this poem online a few weeks ago. It reads:

“Today I feel like a woman

Angry and strong and exactly as God made me 

I will no longer carry Adam’s rib 

And we will not carry his child”

They will never understand what it means to be called woman” 

Sylvie Robinson

Sylvie Robinson is a senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School, in Colorado Springs. She is an active performing artist, participating in her school’s large choir department, local dance studios, and local theater companies. Her largest emotional resource has been her writing; just this past year it has turned into a passion as she has started drafting a short poetry book.

Photo (left) by Masai Woman Tanzania by Allyson Foerster

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What it means to be called Woman

Sylvie Robinson