Ways Not To Treat Women by Tracey Scott-Townsend

A strong and wide-reaching feminist poem for our fifth selection by guest editor Jessie Joe Jacobs!

Ways not to treat Women

For enjoying a book too much

Refuse to educate them

In case men can’t satisfy them

Genitally mutilate them

If they get pregnant unmarried

Take their babies away

For suffering postpartum depression

Electric shock them

For answering back

Give them a slap

For fear of attachment

Denigrate motherhood

If they have an abortion

Send them to prison

If they have too many children

Financially penalise them

If they seem too intellectual

Keep them barefoot and pregnant

If they don’t want to have children

Call them unnatural

If they give the right answer

Knock them down to size

If they speak when not spoken to

Make them walk behind

When they don’t fancy you

Call them frigid

When they don’t like your wolf-whistle

Ask if they are a lesbian

If they are a lesbian

Call them unnatural

If their opinion is different

Shout them down

When they become emotional

Say turn off the waterworks

When they give you a smile

Call it womanly wiles

If they remain silent

Tell them not to be insolent

When they don’t see the joke

Tell them not to sulk

When you think they are cleverer than you

Talk right over them

When they can do all the things that you can do

Tell them your way is better

If they say we need to talk about this

Call them melodramatic.

Call them hysteric

Call them psychosomatic

Call them a witch

Call them a bitch

Call them anything…

Or, start valuing

How a woman

Can bring forth life

Nurture it from her own body,

And do everything else besides.

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