Each year, International Women's Day recognizes the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over the world, but International Women’s Day 2017 calls for even stronger action than usual. This year, the day of recognition has been transformed into A Day Without A Woman — a protest/workers’ strike/divestment action/holiday designed to highlight the invaluable contributions women make to the American workforce and socio-economic system, while still receiving lower wages and fighting inequity, discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. Celebrated this week, on March 8, “A Day Without A Woman” treads closely on the heels (pun intended) of the Women’s Marches that took the United States and the world by storm back in January — and if you’re planning on participating, there are few ways to do so. (Not least of which includes checking out these poems to read on “A Day Without A Woman”, all of which invite you to reflect, re-energize, and reconsider the experience of womanhood from a fellow woman’s perspective.)
Considering joining “A Day Without a Woman” yourself? Here’s what you need to know: on March 8th women take the day off, from work — paid, unpaid, whatever that means to you — while being mindful of the fact that there are women all over the world who cannot afford to do the same. Another option is to avoid your regular shopping go-tos in favor of investing in small, women- and minority-owned businesses instead. The simplest option of all? Wear red, in solidarity with “A Day Without A Woman.” Oh yeah, and be sure to check out these 15 feminist poems to read on “A Day Without A Woman.”
1. 'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
2. 'for women who are difficult to love' by Warsan Shire
you can't make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.
3. 'Call Me By My Name' by Jamaica Baldwin
...and words are just words I heard
from all the well-meaning
white folk who voted him
Between Standing Rock
and Flint, Michigan
—I am here.
—I am here.
Between birth control
and rape control
—I am here.
4. 'The Period Poem' by Dominique Christina
Herein begins an anatomy lesson infused with feminist politics, because I hate you.
There is a thing called the uterus. It sheds itself every 28 days or so, or in my case every 23 days, I’ve always been a rule breaker.
That’s the anatomy part of it, I digress.
The feminist politic part is that women know how to let things go, how to let a dying thing leave the body, how to become new, how to regenerate, how to wax and wane, not unlike the moon and tides...
5. Untitled by Rupi Kaur
other women's bodies
are not our battlegrounds
6. 'Woman Is Lost in History' by Zahra Ab
She has no identity, no value.
If a woman has value, it is because of her body.
A half-figure with a fake smile.
Symbolic. Silent. Hidden. Not real.
Woman is lost in history.
I am a woman surrounded in night.
But I will fight the darkness.
I will break it down.
7. 'A Litany For Survival' by Audre Lorde
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
8. 'Thinking' by Danusha Laméris
Don’t you wish they would stop,
all the thoughts swirling around in your head like
bees in a hive, dancers tapping their way across the stage?
I should rake the leaves in the carport, buy Christmas lights.
Is there really life on Mars? What will I cook for dinner?
9. Untitled by Kat Savage
you can stab a girl
without making her bleed.
and you can break her heart
without hearing anything shatter.
but that soul of hers,
she wrapped it in steel.
10. 'Signed Out' by Elizabeth Rees
She didn’t care
if you called
her. Alice was
11. 'Be Nobody's Darling' by Alice Walker
Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl...
12. 'Shrinking Women' by Lily Myers
I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
"How can anyone have a relationship to food?" he asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
13. 'On Distance' by Liz Waldner
There are clues.
At the dinner table, he refers to Julian of Norwich as “he”;
I say, politely, “Isn’t it ‘she’?”
The next day I am in Washington, D.C., at the library,
looking for “The Man in the Wooden Hat.”
He’s not on the shelf.
Having dismissed the “G”s I turn around; there are the “D”s: O.K.
I go home with Kathryn Davis. When I finish the novel
a day later, I wish it were real. true. life.
14. Untitled by Jessica Katoff
if there are words
clawing at your insides,
begging to be heard,
put them down on paper,
and give them to the world.
15. 'I Think She Was a She' by Leyla Josephine
...I would have supported her right to choose.
To choose a life for herself, a path for herself.
I would have died for that right, just like she died for mine.
I’m sorry but you came at the wrong time.
I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed.
I am so sick of keeping these words contained.
I am not ashamed.