Father and Son: A Poem for the #MeToo Era

First of all, I don’t like calling it a “MeToo Era,” because it feels like I’m saying that it’s a brand new thing that suddenly’s been happening. Like men haven’t been the perpetrators of horrific sexual crimes for thousands of years. But I couldn’t think of a better title for this post, so here we are.

In response to some recent events in our country, as well as inspiration from recent conversations I’ve had with friends, I wrote a poem, which I present to you now without further comment:

 

Father and Son
by: Munib Rezaie

Hey dad, I know it’s been a while
but the state of the world’s made it hard to smile.
I’ve been struggling lately, and things are a mess.
Our global disorder is causing me stress.
I have so many questions, I’ll try to be brief,
but there’s a girl in my life and she’s giving me grief.

What does it mean to be a man today?
Does it mean I can shout until I get my way?
Do I have to be tough, athletic, and rich?
If I tell on my friends, will they call me a snitch?
Am I allowed to cry if I’m happy or sad?
And can I be aggressive if I’m feeling real mad?
Is it manly to worry, emote, and feel scared?
And if a friend’s hurting, is it manly to care?

What if I’m hurt by the girl I adore?
Can I call her a bitch? Can I call her a whore?
Do I have to respect her the rest of my life?
Or impress her just enough to make her my wife?
And if she says “no,” do I have to stop?
Cause I asked her real nicely, and saved her the best spot.
Who is she to say what I can do next,
when she told me she liked me in yesterday’s text?
I guess she’s a liar, and I should have known better.
I love you, dad. Please answer my letter.
I know you will help me to come to my senses,
but does being a man mean life sans consequences?

— — —

I just got your letter and admit I’m concerned
that life’s greatest lessons, you have yet to learn.

What does it mean to be a man today?
It means fighting injustice every single day.
It means working to be the best that you can be
outside of the false gender dichotomy.
Emotions are shared with all humanity,
not as signs of weakness or femininity.
In fact, if there’s one wish I could set in motion,
it’s that you have the courage to express all emotions.

But let me be clear, that’s still not enough.
I expect you to fight for all who have it tough.
As a boy and a man, your first duty is key,
you must smash to bits the patriarchy.
It’s denied half the world their basic birthright
to reach their potential and shine their light bright.
For too long its talons have gripped womankind,
silenced her voice, and left her behind.
There is simply no way for us to comprehend
all the good that will come with patriarchy’s end.

So what does all this mean for the women you meet?
Just remember the following on mental repeat:

If I had to boil it all down to one thing,
it’s that you’re entitled to absolutely nothing.
There’s nothing she owes you, nothing you deserve
when it comes to the instincts that make you a perv.
To make it crystal clear, it’s never alright
to hear her say “no” and then put up a fight.
A “no” signals your conversation’s completion
so just get back to loving her without condition. 

But the things you owe her? Well, that list is quite long
So sit down, buckle up, and I’ll move this along.

You owe her your respect every single day
in all that you do, and all that you say.
You owe her your trust and your loyalty
to always believe her and help her succeed.
You owe her your patience and your understanding
as she goes through her journey with some bumpy landings.
You owe her your truest hearing ears and eyes
and an honest attempt to always empathize.
You owe her your support in all her endeavors,
even when she accomplishes what you could never.
You owe her your love and all it entails,
not just when she wins but also when she fails.

You owe her all this and so very much more
for the sake of all women who have come before.
Because in a vacuum, she does not exist
and her life is the sum of a world that’s sexist.
Over thousands of years men created a culture
in which women are carrion and men are the vultures.
Where victims are made to feel guilt, fear, and shame
while guilty men walk at no cost to their name.
And the only way things will ever be made right
is for young men like you to stand and join the fight.
To stand by your sisters and raise their voice high,
to make sure they’re heard and no longer denied.

Until men and women share the world equally,
we will never know peace, and no one will be free.
What you do with this knowledge will be up to you.
Will you sit idly by, or fight for what’s true?

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