Father and Son 2: A Poetic Sequel for the #MeToo Era

After writing the first Father and Son poem, I got some great feedback from friends and soon realized I still had more to say.

Thus, Father and Son 2 was born.

In the first poem, the father takes his time to reply and try to show his son a beautiful way to live his life. It’s kind of stated in bigger terms that a lot of parents speak in, where it’s like “be good” and “help others” and all of that. But here’s the thing: when it comes to parenting, kids can sometimes be jerks. And express/profess opinions that you think are absolutely wrong. And you still have to love them.

With that, I give you:

Father and Son II
Munib Rezaie

Ok dad, I get it. No need for a lecture.
Especially not when it’s full of conjecture.
I wrote you in hopes of parental advice,
not line after line of feminist sound bites.
Your letter was full of generalizations
about women and men and their different stations.

If I read you right, you want me to believe
that men are to blame when women can’t achieve.
That women are suffering while men are succeeding
and that is just something I cannot believe in.

The fact is that numbers are not on your side
when it comes to who commits more suicides
or the death tolls of war divided by gender,
or who takes more jobs with the greatest danger.

There are more examples, but I think you’ll agree
that men suffer too, including me.
I may lose my job, the economy’s rough
and you’re telling me that I just don’t do enough.
So fight, if you must, for the good of woman,
but please don’t forget your own struggling son.

– – –

My son, my son, my poor struggling son,
why is your tone such a defensive one?
You asked about women, you asked about manhood,
I answered with love, your answer was a tad rude.

The first thing I hope that you understand
is that praising women makes you no less a man.
To be honest, I find your arguments lame.
We’ll start with the assumption that it’s about blame.

Nowhere in my letter did I say you’re at fault
for the past crimes of men who brought women this rot.
And while you had no hand in the crimes they committed,
it created a system from which you’ve benefited.
Again, it does not mean the blame is on you
But rather, that there’s a whole lot you can do.

With such privilege and power you could, for example,
raise the voices of those who too often get trampled.
For no other reason than their intersection
of race, sex, and gender they get no attention
from systems that outwardly call for progress
but were really designed to silence and oppress.

But you asked for some numbers, and I think I will start
with how one in six women experience assault.
If that number does not leave you clenching your hands
you should know it’s much worse if she’s black, brown, or trans.

Even worse still is the horrific plight
of our sisters who come from First Nation tribes.
Imagine if nearly every daughter and mother
experienced assault of one kind or another.
That is the sad fact for too many women
who we expect to move on and say “all is forgiven.”

But we could take turns spewing numbers and facts
and it won’t mean a thing if on them we don’t act.
Besides, why do numbers mean so much to you?
Is it too hard to believe that women’s words are true?
When you ask for numbers to back up their claims
You’re saying “prove your own trauma, and risk being shamed”

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather risk
believing a lie than injustice being missed.
You may lose your job, the economy’s rough
but there’s something I just cannot repeat enough:

It’s not about you, it’s not about me.
(It’s about women’s right to life and liberty.)
It’s not about me, it’s not about you.
(It’s about how much happiness women can pursue.)
It’s not about you, it’s not about me.
(It’s about every girl denied the right to read.)
It’s not about me, it’s not about you.
(It’s about every girl with self-imposed curfews.)
It’s not about you, it’s not about me.
(It’s about lifting up half of humanity.)
It’s not about me, it’s not about you.
(It’s about women’s freedom to be what they choose.)
It’s not about you, it’s not about me.
(It’s about half the world being denied dignity.)
It’s not about me, it’s not about you.
(It’s about gender equality, inherently true.)
It’s not about you, it’s not about me.
(It’s about making sure all our sisters are free.)

So the next time someone says women deserve rights,
try not to shout out, “but what about my fights?”
Instead, I would hope that you throw up your fists,
and stand by your sisters who fight for justice.
Because your fight is theirs, and their fight is yours.
There’s no us and them, so let’s stop keeping score.

So…where does this leave us in our correspondence?
I have said a lot and await your responses.
If it proves too much, and you don’t write again,
I’ll leave you with this: we must be better men.

“The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.”

from the writings of the Bahá’í Faith

Click here for Part III of the Father and Son Trilogy.

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