Isabel Cruz: November 2018 Poet of the Month
A MAN TELLS ME I SHOULD BE MORE LIKE [INSERT NAME OF ATTRACTIVE FEMALE HERE] & I GET PISSED OFF
He says it’s because I’m “young” and I should “snag a man during this time because you’re kind of like, riper at this age” – like I’m some kind of damn fruit. Created just to grow and be picked from my tree by a boy. I do not say anything; I just laugh awkwardly and excuse myself. I do not tell him what I think of his stupid opinion and where he can shove it up, and maybe it is my fault. Or maybe I’ve just gotten used to this – all of these sexist statements or actions that if I pointed out, would be considered an overreaction in our still-mostly-traditional society. For example:
Every time a man steps onto and crushes what I have to say. Every time a man slyly asks me if I even know what I’m doing. Every time a man looks at me and tells me – with no regard whatsoever – “Eh, you attractive enough to get a boyfriend meh?” (As if he looked any better. Someone should get him a damn mirror for his birthday.) Every time a man can’t handle a joke I throw at him despite the fact that he made a similar one about me. (Because yes – his masculinity is that fragile.)
Maybe I’m not your conventional 20-year-old girl. Maybe I’m not as pretty as men want. Maybe I’m not this or that but who cares, because you know what I actually am?
Tired: of being scrutinized. Of being picked apart and told how I’m not good enough. Of being compared to other women despite the fact that we are all our own. Of being told that “you shouldn’t swear so much because girls who swear aren’t attractive”. Of being told that my body isn’t good enough to wear certain clothes. Of being told that I should expose more skin. Of men getting a free pass whenever they screw up because “boys will be boys”. Of being shamed for whenever I screw up because “we expected more from you, young lady”. Of being told that I shouldn’t have sex before marriage because “no man wants a used thing”. Of being told that I should marry early because “no man wants a woman who’s too old”. Of being told that I can’t make more than my boyfriend or husband. Of being that I can’t be my own person without needing to fulfil the expectations of the other gender. I am tired. Tired. Tired. Tired.
So yes - maybe I’m not a woman most men would consider attractive but you know what I am? A woman who’s allowed to be herself. Who’s not expected to be anything for anyone else. And you know what we women actually are? Strong. Powerful. Amazing, despite and because of our differences. Because we have the right to be multi-faceted and because we have the right to decide who we are and because we were never put on this earth to fulfill the needs of men.
So no, sir, I do not want to be like any other woman out there. I want to be me. I am happy and contented to be me. As any woman has the right to be.
Isabel Cruz was born in The Philippines but raised in Singapore. She now has two places that she considers home. Isabel is a 20-year-old writer and poet who believes that stories are one of the strongest things on earth; she wants to be able to weave ones so beautiful she could inspire generations. Her work as been featured on Yes, Poetry and Harness Magazine. You can find more of her words on her Instagram and her blog.