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WE DO THESE THINGS

By Vicki L W Graff

PROMPT — I will not rest until ...

how many times do we curl our hair

when we'd rather leave it straight?


how many times do we shave our hair

when we'd rather let it grow?


how many times do we wear high heels

that throw us off balance,

strain our backs,

cramp our toes, and

deform our feet,

when we'd rather wear barefoot sandals?


how many times do we wear tight pants

that cut off circulation,

causing varicose veins

and vaginal infections,

when we'd rather just be comfortable?


to please men, we do these things

to compete with other women

to please men

we do these things to our bodies


how many times do we say yes

when we want to say no?


how many times do we stick around

when we want to just go?


how many times do we say no,

and no, and once again no,

only to find ourselves, once again

flat on our backs,

opening our legs

to some stranger

or customer

or husband

or lover

or boss,

when we'd rather choose our own time,

our own place?


to please men, we do these things

to survive, to eat, to stay

alive

we do these things to our bodies


how many times do we take pills

that disrupt our hormones

and give us headaches,

nausea, sore breasts,

liver tumors, or blood clots

or insert devices in our bodies

that may cause infections

or perforate the womb

or cut off the sensations

and destroy the spontaneity

of our love?

or insert foams, jellies, and creams

(which are unreliable)

or count the days and take our

temperatures and

keep our charts

(which are unreliable)

or count on a man to cover himself

with condoms

(which are unreliable)

or submit to the physical and

psychological trauma

of abortion

all to prevent the conception

and birth of a child

we may or may not want

but certainly cannot afford

at such times in our lives?


to please men, we do these things

to give them 'free love,'

unencumbered by the burdens

of paternity

unencumbered by the

responsibility

for contraception

unencumbered by the risks

to health and safety and life

that we suffer,

whether pregnant or not

to please men,

we do these things to our bodies


and how many times, in spite of

or because of

all of the above,

do we suffer and conceive,

suffer and give birth,

suffer and nurture and

raise children

that we really do not want?


how many times do we stay home

when we'd rather be working?


how many times do we work,

underpaid, in jobs that are

undervalued precisely

because we do them

when we deserve to be rewarded

equally?


how many times do we listen

when we'd rather speak, or speak

when we want to shout?


how many times do we watch

when we'd rather act, or act

when we want to strike?


how many times do we smile

when we want to scream?


to please men, we do these things

to survive, to eat, to stay

alive

we do these things to ourselves


we have counted the times

and they are too many

to please ourselves, we change

to discover ourselves, we change

to reclaim ourselves, we change

to become ourselves, we change


to live, rather than just survive,

we change ourselves

and change our world

to change our world,

we do these things


we choose to curl, to straighten, or not

we choose to shave or keep what we've got

we choose what we wear, how we look

by wish or by whim

but to please ourselves, and not

to please men


we choose to say no, to get up and go,

and not to give in

we choose our own lovers,

we choose our own friends,

we choose to love women,

we choose for ourselves, and not

to please men


we choose doctors and therapists

who share our concern

for dangerous drugs and devices

who share our commitment

to safer methods, healthy

alternatives, and lower prices


we choose to have children

that are wanted,

when we want them,

not when they happen to come

we choose not to have children

knowing that the choice

does not diminish us as women


we choose to work at jobs

that are valued, that make

demands on our skills, and

to expand our skills


we choose to invade the male

preserve

demanding the pay

demanding the privileges

and the positions

demanding the rights

and the recognitions

we deserve


we choose when to listen

and when to speak,

when to act bold,

when to be meek


we accept our happiness,

we smile, laugh, and dream

we accept our anger,

we know when to scream

we rejoin our mothers, our sisters,

our daughters,

joining hands to fight the

despair

of women in bondage everywhere


we do these things for ourselves,

and not to please men.

 

Vicki L W Graff is an experienced communications manager, editor, writer, and creative director with expertise in internal and external communications, publishing, marketing, advertising, public relations, events, corporate identity, financial and program management, strategic planning, teaching, and training. She has special expertise in health science, nutrition and education. Vicki is highly experienced in print, audio-visual and digital media and an expert in a wide range of computer programs, word processing systems, desktop, and web publishing formats. She writes from Columbus, OH.

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