This poem was inspired by the constant struggle of trying to regain control of my body as a woman, when it feels that every single part of it is scrutinized and controlled by someone else. I identify this “someone else” as a patriarchal sexist thought, one that infiltrates my own eyes whenever I look at myself and make decisions about how I look. The poem focuses on the frustrating feeling that no matter what we as women choose to do with our bodies, whether we want to undress them or cover them, we will be criticized and condemned. Even our own vision of ourselves is tainted by the sexist agenda we are constantly subjected to.
My Own Male Gaze
Unveiled and peeled
never through my eyes.
In a mirror I see my pulp
as what he would see
looking at me.
I dress the razor burns
on leaking fleshy rind,
thinking I can’t show
the skin, or else he’d think
I thought my body was me,
not meat designed
for his honing teeth.
The husk has to stay
the husk has to go,
no matter the choice
I have no choice at all.
Should I take off
all you want me to keep on?
If my liberation undressed
still pleases his tongue
and looks how he wants
is it liberation at all?
By Michela Sottura
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