When you have sat so long with a dinner knife and fork poised around your neck, how can you not expect to be eaten?
If your stomach growls and you are told all your life to remain silent, how do you know when to start speaking for yourself?
When your ribs practically carve themselves, pushing into the soft canvas of your skin, screaming to get out, and you have been told you do not deserve to eat - how do you know when you should?
How did you ever know you had the option to begin with?
And when you figure it out, how can they not expect anything less than anger? How can they not expect fear, distrust?
They can't seem to decide what you are.
You've been treated as a kenneled hound dog all your life, been told that baring your teeth was wrong, been told that you bark too loudly, sit too widely.
You've been treated as a show dog, led around on the arm of someone, never to look, never to breathe, never to think. To start dogfights. They laugh in their booths with money raised in clenched fists - it's entertainment and their bet is on whoever's teeth is the sharpest but both of you have had your teeth filed down for generations. Still, you fight, because it is all you've known.
You've been trained to not even be perceived as human, to not even perceive yourself as human, had orders barked at you your whole life but when you try to protest, you're told that you are arrogant and selfish.
Even then, some of them will continue the slow march of bringing the silverware ever closer, metal scraping against the table because they see the fight as a challenge. They like to play with their food, it's tag and you're it. You can pretend all you want that you're the main course, the whole meal, but that doesn't change that you will still, in the end, get ripped apart. Ripped to shreds, to pieces, violated even further when you thought it could never happen. That it could never get worse.
People tell you that they are just as much victims. They need the money from betting to survive, even if it's from betting on losing dogs with dull teeth and dull eyes. They tell you that you need to love them more and they will be kinder. That they will stop treating you the way they have. That they will stop being entitled.
But all you've ever done is loved, loved with your entire being, and nothing has ever changed.
I wanted to write a poem that captured the feeling of being a woman. I recently had a debate with someone in which they told me that generalization is harmful and unproductive, especially when men are also victims of the patriarchy. And I wanted to write a poem that said acknowledged that they were but that it still doesn't excuse for **** or violence. For stalking, for being entitled.