International Women’s Day Poem: To Women Who Don’t Support Women’s Rights (Audio)

On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017, activists from Abolish Article 153 hosted a poetry night. They invited me and my friends from Kuwait Poets Society to read verses relating to women’s issues: political and social rights, violence against women, or women empowerment in general. Since I read “So Much Happens in Our Bodies” at the last Abolish event, I decided to write a new poem (pasted below the image).

I finished it just in time to shower and drive to Al-Shaheed Park’s Circle of Peace where the event was taking place.


To Women Who Don’t Support Women’s Rights

(Spoken-word poem)

Right this way.
Find a seat.
Get comfortable.
This may burn a little.

Allow me to elucidate, as a friend.
You disco-dance with fire daily,
but you call it “colored light”.

I’ve been watching you,
swaying to the left,
swaying to the right.
enjoying the safety of the night.
Neither disaster nor monsters threatening
appear to be lurking near or far.

So secure,
you’ve turned this disco into a tango with other women,
loving your one two tug and sucker-punch.

You swing to the music in the the background
feeling fine. Oh so fine.

Your baked goods rest on cloth covered tables
wafting an oder of invite for fun gatherings,
with smart phones puckering, little embryos, in holsters
ravenously waiting for compliments and chit-chat.

Let’s get real now.
Who gave you all of that?

There are women to whom
your “disagreements” are nothing but babble.
They’re not in it for the show and spectacle like you.
They’re too busy operating a more elaborate apparatus
called “higher purpose,” a lofty desire to render
— even on pain of death —
all humans: “human” in the eyes of society and its courts.

These women did not fight for “their kind:”
the female bodied and the identified.
No. They rewrote misogynistic obstacles
as narratives of unconditional love and sacrifice.

Women’s rights are human rights.

And we stand today erect
as a result of the bravery of those that preceded us.

Make sure you don’t,
through ignorance or arrogance,
dismantle their progress.

For instance, remember what was
bequeathed to us by Sarah Akbar,

who upon entering the male-dominated industry of gas and oil
had asked to “get her hands dirty” like her masculine counterparts
and was told that “fieldwork is a man’s job.”

Imagine if she had sat around waiting for permission,
which was never granted, or worse,
if she internalized that statement as a “fact.”

Instead she hustled, moved by her internal human power,
and doused fire after fire herself, learning on the job
and defying the higher-ups.

So when the planets stood in alignment,
and her country called for a heroine,
she was ready to rise up to the challenge,
to put out burning wells shoulder-to-shoulder with men.

Women have performed fearless acts
that paved the way for social and political change
to take root in fertile grounds.
Do not ruin what they have sown
by fighting one another on linguistic technicalities,

and if we are not yet ready to reap certain rewards
that matter to you in the moment, then either
be patient, or make it your mission to get it done.

Allow those who fight other battles
to nurture their own plants,

I promise
there are enough seeds and flowerbeds,
for us all to enjoy growth.

And when in doubt, recall
Asrar Al-Qabandi:
The woman whose courage surmounts that of men.
We don’t just owe our liberation to her valor,
she also helped us redefine the term “woman.”

Remember how she left us,
after a month of brutish torture,
and regular rape in front of other detainees,
never once divulging names or secrets of the resistance,
loving your safety and my rights unconditionally,
even under the influence of drugs.

Remember how she came back to us,
brutally murdered,
packed in a black garbage bag,
tossed outside of her father’s house,
with an ax sticking out of her head.

And don’t you dare utter a word about
the biology of the female, her emotional instability,
or feebleness.

Gender equality is the marrow in our Kuwaiti bones.
It is why we stand tall.

So when you decide to tell someone
you don’t support women’s rights for whatever reason,
take care you don’t lose a chunk of your soul in vapid theories.

Because women’s rights are human rights.
And we are the living proof.


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