To the Men of pen, song, and spoken word: Her Body is not yours

This is for the men who are “woke” and write, sing, and perform spoken word that focuses on women. This reflection is for you, and for myself, as I am equally guilty, for not too long ago I thought your words revolutionary and beautiful.

You rise on that stage, take that mic, look at us, be us in front of you or via a computer screen, and speak.

 

Her body, their body, 
is not for you to discover.

She is not some virgin paradise to find treasures in. Before you saw her, she saw herself. Your eyes did not suddenly bring her to life, did not validate her existence. Your melodies and sonic waves reminisce the wood Columbus rode as he “discovered” America. Your discovery is again like that of men across the centuries, “discovering” lands, galaxies, and phallic ideologies. Even you who are Brown like me, who think they have been robbed of this ability to discover, her body, their body, is not for you to find.

Her body, their body,
is not for you to explore.

Your spoken word with rocking rhythms and cracked voices and deep deep do not interweave her words of consent. Did she tell you that her body was a map written by men to be explored? Did she welcome you to speak of her, did she accept your uncredited poem, did she say yes to having your voice speak about her body over hers? Did she consent to your exploration, or are you just another Lewis and Clarke dressed in hipper clothes and using your melanin to tell us “its okay, I’m oppressed too” as a fake feminist card to make us re-share your pseudo-solidarity YouTube video?

Her Body, their body, 
is not a topic for your art. 
She, they, aren’t things to fill up your artistic CV for when you apply for that internship. They are not just one of your more popular pieces that other men snap their fingers at whilst they praise your performance wishing they could serenade their partner the same way. Their bodies aren’t topics of discussion on the sidewalk post show. They aren’t for you to sit in your phallic chair basking in your male privilege, no matter the color of it, to think about and pen and brush and type. It isn’t a bullet point on your to do list on the top right of your mahogany desk. Her body, their body, isn’t a sudden wave of inspiration when your eyes run up and down that woman on the train, where your imagination went to the same dark place, but safe because no one but Professor X can see.

 

Her Body, their body,
is not for you to describe.

You sound like the white man in his metal tower on Wall St., thinking your descriptions some clever decolonial wordsmithing but instead again use objects, rivers, stars, mountains, nature, things, to tell us how beautiful she is. You focus on her curves, her melanin, her eyes, her touch, even sometimes her tongue, but always fail to mention her intellect, her emotion, her own words, her owns thoughts, her own soul. You love her brown, in all its shades, but thats where your poem and song ends. You apologize, its because you’re 2 minutes and thirty seconds were up, but no worries, part 2 is coming.

Her Body, their body, 
is not for you to bow to.
“I bow to you, my Queen” you roar. But never mention the Queen you bow to isn’t actually Bey or Erikah or hooks or Anzaldua or Queer, but that you bow to the White Feminism that fetishizes you, that uses you, that tells you your basic black/brown/ethnic masculinity is sexy and risqué and exotic. You forget to tell us you’re bowing to that White Feminism that speaks for all women even though no one asked it to.

 

Her body, their body,
Isn’t a body deserving of violence because of your misogynist broken heart.
Your heart is broken, just like mine. But that is no god given divine head nod for you to then sit down and set bars so low you keep fracturing your already petty heart when you trip. Even ya’ll deep wokes who disguise shade and knives and bite into bundled lyrics and grammar of respect, “I will always love you”, and dry well wishes can’t seem to stay away from insulting her body for too long, be it in that quick one liner or behind the bar or when you step off stage and get your wingman to subtweet that “hoe you don’t fuck with.” Your broken heart isn’t you just learning to use your sword to cut her body up, its you thinking this is new and not realizing why she broke your heart was because you were well mastered in your misogynistic patriarchal hegemonic masculinity.

 

Her body, their body,
Is not to be forgotten when you speak of freedom. 

When you speak of those who have been murdered by police, you seem to forget her name. You seem to forget their voice, how their bodies experience violence, some of it by you. When you speak of chains, you forget those chains are not only around your ankles. When you speak of liberation, you forget to speak of her bloodied hands as they try to rip you from the abyss. When you speak of the complexity of the human spirit, you forget not only her body, you forget her entirely.

Her body, their body,

it is not yours. It is not mine. It is not ours.

It does not belong in your song, your essay, your short story, your spoken word.

Her body, their body,

it is not, it is never, yours.  

And never forget it. 

 

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