at least three fingers

at least to your fingertips

at least you won’t get raped, right?

 

Young Women today, we have our body confidence put down

They tell us

our shoulders are a distraction

Our thighs will drive a man’s hormones raging

and insane

by telling us

by saying that the fact that you can see my shoulder

that I’m asking to be assaulted?

 

In kindergarten, they tell us to express ourselves

In middle school, we are told to

dress appropriately, question authority

In life, we are told to

cover yourself up or

you were asking for it

when we should really be telling guys to keep their thoughts to themselves, and it in their pants

still, instead we are asking

what were you wearing?

tell me that part about expressing ourselves again?

oh right

except

no shoulders

no cleavage

no knees
these are our bodies

this is how we’re made

this is our voice being ripped away and shushed

this is making a body part taboo

this is telling a girl with a dream and a voice that she is a slut and a hazard because her shorts

were 4 inches above her knees, not 3

this is telling a little girl that it’s her fault for getting drugged and raped because she has confidence in her body

Acting as if we don’t have breasts

sexistly sexualising our knee socks and tank tops

when it’s 90 degrees outside

we are asked to cover anything a man could possibly be turned on by

 

at least three fingers

at least to your fingertips

at least you won’t get raped, right?

Photo by david_shankbone

 

CC BY-SA 4.0 At least three fingers by Bella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

16 Comments
  1. Ashton 7 months ago

    This poem is breathtaking. It’s not beautiful in a traditional sense, but in a raw, real way that sheds light on the crookedness of mankind. You did a wonderful job showing the struggle of women all over the world. It’s sad that in this day and age, the proposed solution to inequality and cruelty is for women to learn to defend themselves instead of fixing the problem at the root. If we teach our young boys to be respectful and to control their urges just as women have been forced to control theirs for decades, then this might not be as much of issue. There is definitely a middle ground here, because self defense is a great thing for women and men alike, but the root of the problem is not our lack of women trained in martial arts.
    Thank you for sharing your writing.

  2. Maddie 7 months ago

    Your poem is absolutely amazing. It made me think back to how strict my middle school dress code had been. There were days when a teacher would walk around the room to each girl and measure how short her shorts were in-front of the entire class. If one aspect of your clothing didn’t meet the criteria, you were sent home or you had to wear your gym clothes for the rest of the day. Not only was it always mortifying but it took me and other girls away from our learning. I had never thought of a shoulder or as a sexual part. And god-forbid if someone saw my bra strap, because no one should ever know that a teenage girl wears a bra.
    Instead of saying “Boys will be boys” and teaching girls that they are nothing other than sexual objects, we need to start teaching boys/men to stop staring at a 13 year-old girls elbow and getting turned on by it and teach girls that they are more than a collection of body parts there for a mans amusement.

  3. Ebony 7 months ago

    I loved your poem so much. They always make it seem like it is your fault when you are raped and they try to silence your voice even thought you have done nothing wrong. You are speaking to a whole bunch of girls who feel unsafe and uncomfortable with there body’s because someone made that one creepy comment about what they were wearing and tried to do something to them. My body is my body and i should be able to wear whatever i want to wear without being judged about my clothes choice. Thanks for this.

  4. Asha 9 months ago

    very powerful and moving I love your style of writing in this poem and how everything fit together truly made speechless! I agree with the message in this and how women of our generation are being shamed for something they dont cause. I think its brave and inspiring you wrote about this.

  5. Emily 10 months ago

    Hi Bella,

    I am impressed. Your piece is powerful, honest, and moving. When I was in middle school, the girls were banned from wearing leggings. When we asked why, the gym teachers informed us that the boys were too distracted by them and getting boners in the hallway. THEIR ACTUAL WORDS. That is ridiculous. Schools should be teaching boys to respect women and to control themselves. I commend you for your work and I hope people continue to challenge these warped ideas.

    -Emily

  6. Abby 11 months ago

    What an amazingly powerful poem. It’s sad that it is something that almost every woman in this world has had to deal with. Rape culture is so successful because they start it at a young age. Most young girls don’t think twice about it, it’s just something that they tell is is truth. It pains me so much that girls are taught to avoid rape, but boys are never taught to not rape. How can our society be so backwards and behind?

    I was so shook when I talked with students in Bumpe, Sierra Leone. They are struggling to study at night because their homes don’t have electricity. Many girls try to sit at gas stations at night or anywhere with light and risk being raped. They can’t even study without a risk! I can’t even imagine.

    You should look under here to read more: http://www.youthvoices.live/2016/10/18/can-solar-lanterns-change-girls-lives-in-sierra-leone/
    You should also look at the other related things under the call for action tab. We are doing a video project that talks about a girl in her daily life, all across the globe.

  7. Ciara 11 months ago

    Bella-
    Your words are very powerful. The issue of rape culture is one very prevalent in today’s society. As someone who has grown up with strict dress codes and school uniforms, this poem hits too close to home. I remember being told “Your mother needs to buy you a new uniform, it’s far too short. The boys will look” I was horrified! I couldn’t possibly imagine why boys would look. From a very young age girls are told to alter themselves to fit societies perception of how we should be. I love your line”these are our bodies / this is how we’re made” Many people don’t realize that everyone should have an equal chance to be themselves.

  8. Sean 11 months ago

    This is a good poem because it challenges what has been taught in society, it addresses an important issue today in American and this will be an important issue tomorrow. I like how you echo the first part of your poem at the end I think it wraps a nice bow on this poem.

  9. Victoria 11 months ago

    Beautiful poem! It is very moving. Thank you for bringing greater awareness to the presence of rape culture. In the USA, although not blatantly praising rape culture, does promote it in a very subtle way, as girls are told to control how they dress, to not make eye contact, to not do anything suggestive in any way.

    Recently in Spanish class we were assigned to research social media movements in Spanish-speaking countries, and the one I found and focused on was #NiUnaMenos (not one less), which addressed femicide in Argentina. It is interesting to study movements like this because it offers examples of how we women can fight against inequality, especially through social media.

    Again, very good job. Can’t wait to see more of your writing.

  10. Skayla 11 months ago

    Wonderful poem Bella! I love how you added the three fingers statement, it was very clever of you. Your message got to the reader quick and I like how you revealed the woman/girls point of view.

  11. Jack 11 months ago

    Dear Bella,
    First off, beautiful poem, beautiful message, very moving. I do believe you have a great point. Your poem shows how American society is today. Now I don’t want to characterize American society as a “rape culture” because I think that term is misleading, but I do think there is a problem within American society and the way we all think. I do not think rape is glorified in American society and that is mostly why I do not like the term “rape culture” but i do think sexism is alive in America, both derogatory for men and women. Now, I don’t know how to solve sexism or, for that matter, prejudice in general, frankly because I do not think it can be completely solved. Humans have been around for millennia and we still can’t all get along, so I don’t really think an absolute cure is out there. However, when it comes to the case of rape and sexual assault, I might have an idea to how we can help deter it. Women should be able to protect themselves by some means. Whether it be pepper spray, self defense techniques (martial arts), a hand gun, or something else, I really believe women should look into greater ways to protect themselves. A lot of people tell me that women shouldn’t have to protect themselves and shouldn’t have to worry about being assaulted. I want to believe that too but it really just isn’t reality. There’s bad people out there. I like to compare it to home security system: I’d like to believe that my house won’t get broken into, that people are decent enough not to do that, but I know that is a dream. That is why I have home security, to protect myself and my belongings. Taking a left turn here, I think there should be a punishment for women who falsely accuse someone of rape/sexual assault. Of course, there needs to be plenty and plenty of evidence to show that she is lying so that it doesn’t deter women from coming forward when they actually are raped. However, men can be victims of the so-called “rape culture” as well, even if they’ve never been assaulted or assaulted anyone else. There are many instances where women have falsely accused men of rape/sexual assault and put good, decent men in jail for something they never did, all because they held a grudge on that person for some reason. For example, just google the Duke Lacrosse Sexual Assault Scandal. This is taking advantage of the legal system and culture in America today. This is actually sexist toward men, and hurts women who have actually been raped/sexually assaulted in a legal battle. I just wanted to put my thoughts out there. Hopefully this could actually help somebody who reads this. Thanks.

  12. Hannah 11 months ago

    This is very impactful, your writing was drawn together beautifully, and your passion for this subject burst through the lines. I go to a Catholic School where we know how to wear knee length shorts because our skirt lengths were not appropriate. Being told that expressing yourself is wrong is so degrading of our confidence, and instead of drilling what girls can and cannot wear into little girls heads, we should be demolishing this rape culture, locker room talk, and the vision that women are just sexual objects.

  13. Skylar 11 months ago

    This is an incredibly strong poem, almost hard to read. You conveyed something that is so true and disgusting in such an elegant way. This is an uprising issue that is often times over looked because it seems “irrelevant” to most people. However this a horrible phenomenon that seems to getting worse, and I really liked how you touched on the fact that it really starts when we are young girls. This is something that every girl, young women, and adult lady deal with in some way and its so very true that we should be able to express ourselves and love our bodies enough to show it and enjoy it. Our body’s should be hidden just because of temptation, because that is something that easily controllable and not a true reason. This is an incredible poem, and will hopefully be recognized for the power that exists in your words.

  14. Emma 11 months ago

    This is a very inspirational and strong poem. It addresses a very important issue of today’s age. I agree with everything you said. I have grown up in catholic school all my life. In middle school, we needed our skirts to be past our knees in fear of looking innapropriate. Now, in my high school, we had our skorts taken away for the reason of them being too distracting to boys. This is a powerful poem. Very well done.

  15. Shelby 11 months ago

    I’m overwelmed by the strength that this poem possesses. I am very appreciative that you are able to express your voice in this way so that our world can potentially be more sensitive and open about rape culture. In this poem I see the passion you have for our women in society today. I can see that you are in no way exaggerating the reality of
    today’s world. You say it like it is. In this poem you are taking a stand against the common thoughts of people today. You are challenging ways of thinking by not only men, but women. This educates women about the truths of society and what should no longer be tolerated. You are an inspiration to all who have suffered this kind of abuse, as well as the rest of the girls out there who fear their safety based on who they are or how they dress.

  16. Chloe 11 months ago

    Well done, this is a very powerful poem.
    This issue of rape culture starts developing at a young age, particularly with school dress codes. I attend a private high school, and a couple years ago the skorts were taken away for some reasons, one being the distraction of our male students. I agree with you in that we need to teach the boys, they need to control themselves, rather than forcing females to adjust (diminishing all self confidence) for the sake of the boys. Not only does this behavior begin the roots of rape culture, but also gender inequality. It soon begins to look like the females have to adhere to the male students.
    Good job, and I would love to read more of your writing!

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