I wrote this for an event on April 5th, 2014 for The Crisis Center of Bristol’s Clothesline Project. The Crisis Center consistently works to educate the community and heal victims and survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. WARNING! Because of the nature of this material, it may be triggering to some.
I am here to clarify and specify the people I’m attacking.
To call to task the people who tolerate violence distracting
The patriarchal matricide of what it means to be a woman
The homicidal tendencies, rejection of mother’s bosom.
The apathy displayed
at the outspoken woman’s rage
as yet another woman gets shuttled to her grave.
I’m sorry. I apologize. I’m a woman. I was born this way.
I’m sorry that I state my proclamation too loud
while I passionately protect, my sisters in this crowd
from your persistently prejudiced voice that proclaims we’re not permitted
to make decisions about our lives, our histories un-acquitted.
That who we are as women is despicable and dirty
My vagina becomes a battle ground, my body judged unworthy.
I’m sorry that being, my poor addle minded self,
that I don’t understand why I must be put upon a shelf.
That having my future cornered off in a pretty gilded cage
should make my fate far easier, tamp my unfettered rage.
So I become like a caged animal
to be poked with many sticks
by people claiming they know me best
my wants and needs dismissed.
I’m sorry that my activist actions against you prevent you
from laying a h-a-a-a-and on another dis-empowered female
She who huddled in a corner away from flying fists and vomited words
of your hateful acts of terrorism that were thrown at her with such violence
became an invisible statistic.
I’m sorry that your actions made her into what you demanded.
I’m sorry that your angry words on her your hatred branded.
Maybe next time she’ll react fast enough when you tell her she’s a whore
until that day when she finds her voice,
and whispers the words
I’m sorry that the CLICK CLACK
of the hammer you held tight against her ear;
The gun you bought to protect her
from this world you fear;
was too LOUD for you to hear her screams of protest:
I’m sorry that I can’t lay down and allow you to strip away my being
in hopes that maybe, someday, I’ll be worthy of your seeing.
Instead, I’ll take your shaming and your poisoned disregard.
I’ll stand against your anger, my body battle-scarred.
Because unlike you, I hold the key
to your future immortality
in my womb of possibilities
I’m more than reproductive charity.
I’m telling you.
I apologize for the inconvenience to your misogynistic behavior
that tells me I’m at fault, that criminal is my savior
If I’d never spoken up, HIS life would not be ruined
You speak in “Boys will be boys” and other excuses fluent.
You accuse me of being a wouldn’t, a couldn’t, a shouldn’t, like I’m the one at fault
by being born a woman I gave permission for unwanted assault.
Hear these words:
I apologize for not remaining submissive
while you coerced me into a silencing prison
of remaining without a voice
while you, SIR, made the choice
to release my violator on the unsuspecting world.
And while you sat in judgment of MY actions and MY life
He repeated his offensive on a sister and a wife.
The entire time you gave permission
Forcing me to falter my perdition
By setting him free
and prosecuting me.
I apologize, no more.
I am a woman that won’t concede the fighter’s ring as a victim
of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault.
I won’t wear the stigma of harlot or weak or unchecked.
I won’t don the robes you give me that are stained with your judgment
against MY character and MY life.
I won’t lay prostate on the canvas and beg forgiveness for a sin I didn’t commit
but HE did.
No. I won’t do that.
I may lean against the ropes and modify my breathing
but don’t think the final bell has rung while I’m still out here swinging
My eyes may be blackened. My lip may be bleeding
My muscles may be ragged, but I’ll still stand here screaming:
I stand here with my fist raised without fear with the scent of victory
dripping off of me like the shadows put on me by those who tried to defeat me,
I stand here declaring myself, not only the winner, but a survivor
with a power you can’t take away
and a fearless woman’s voice raised up stating:
I am and I matter.
I am one woman and I count.
I am a woman who will no longer apologize for being who I am meant to be.
And I am not alone.
I am one of a billion names.
I am a woman. I was born this way.
We are women whose light cannot be dimmed.
We are women who hold out our hands with a resilience that can’t be squelched by hatred.
We are women who encourage outrage against this war on our mothers and daughters.
We are women who should no longer apologize for dancing with abandon
to the music of our spirits.
We are women who move our hips, our hands, our feet, our hearts to the rhythm of
“No More. No More.”
We are women relearning to love every part of ourselves;
Embracing and lifting each other up.
We are women who offer our voices as a refuge of strength
and a unified stand declaring,
“NO MORE! NO MORE!”
Raise up your voices with me,
“NO MORE! NO MORE!”
Move your bodies, join me in declaring,
“NO MORE! NO MORE! NO MORE!”