Listening to Rudy Francisco recite his poem had multiple effects. I knew others would get it and decided to share with several asks. I did not want to dive into the subject and get it wrong. An astute feminist and activist caught wind of it and had much to say.
His take on sexism and misogyny in poetry piercing
I attached the following lede my Facebook post.
The message is profound but requires you to think through two levels of indirection, IMHO. Guys, do you get. it? Women, can you demand they force it into their psyche?
I love what is occurring now as women stand-up against sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment, and rape. But will too many acquiesce to the past? The status quo? Trump, Moore, Weinstein, Simmons, how to evaluate the complicities in the decades of their behavior? After all, don't they have support from a lot of women? Why did they succeed as comparable good men didn't? The psyche of the oppressed? Do I dear say the complicity of the oppressed at times? Why?
OK, I'm done. Some things I want to say will get me in trouble so I must wait till I've thought it out and eliminate all degrees of freedom in the argument.
A feminist friend Elaine Kimzey sealed the deal with this comment.
OK. I can say it since I'm a card-carrying feminist, a veteran of the 70's-8o's women's movement. This man has the courage to make himself vulnerable and speak of his journey toward equality. There are many other men, of varying shades of skin color, who have similar stories. His words are brutal for a woman to hear, but they describe a reality.
Women have had a journey, too. There was a time when I accepted the supposed fact that men were only really interested in one thing so that I would need to be very careful not to attract too much of that kind of attention. But on the other hand, a woman wasn't really a woman if she wasn't attractive to men, and was pretty much worthless. (Catch 22).
So I played along - for a while, as best I could, walking that tightrope. But I wanted to be in places other than the bedroom. So I went along with the jokes, made excuses for some men's behavior, still "saving myself" for the husband I would one day have. I hoped I would find him because everyone knew that being "an old maid" was a fate worse than death.
When the "girls" got together, we talked about men, and not in a good way. How awful they were, how they were really stupid about some things, how to "manage" them, etc. Yes, I was an enabler in that massive societal dysfunction. It was a complicated time for both men and women. However, down deep inside, many of us, men and women, felt something was amiss. So we dug out those feelings and aired them. LOTS of anger! (Consciousness raising we called it).
Turns out we had a lot of male allies, and they began to examine their attitudes and feelings and values as well. So we worked together to change some laws and some customs. Lots of changes in attitudes, but the job was not finished at that time. Attitudes continued to be a problem. Truth: some men are still really sexist (the word we used back in that day). And some women are still really sexist. (Generally derogatory about men.).
We're all still learning. And the time has come for another round of improvements. We'll all be better for it eventually - IF we're all willing to be vulnerable to the truth in ourselves and each other. It takes courage, but it's worth it in the long run. It also takes respect. And the ability to forgive and move forward.
It is unnecessary to say more. What are your thoughts?
Also published on Medium.