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me too



i can't completely blame you for dismissing me –
after all i keep the smile on as a disguise.
but without it you call me a harridan, a bad
attitude, a bitch face.
without the smile, the accepting laughter at your jokes
i am invisible. so i smile so you would see me,
more importantly hear me.

but i realize even still i will be blamed
if you see me and hurt me, you will say it's my fault -
i wore lipstick and smiled at you - you would say i encouraged you;
if i wore something cute, you would say i baited you
if i laughed at your jokes, you would say i consented
the world would deem me complicit.

they won't take account
this is what is demanded full time from women in the workplace
an unspoken rule – and, in warm whisper in the ear, spoken -
smile more; don't wear that, wear
this, hide your wedding ring,
any attachments … the imposition that women must go with the flow;
be available, network to the old boy network.

be open to a hand placed on the shoulder, on an arm,
on a thigh; speak in double-entendres, laugh at sexual
jokes, tell some around the water cooler -
“this is how they accept you as one of the gang”.
be willing to work early, to work late, to working alone
just you two (without any witnesses or defense), compromise
to where you're only one making concessions ...
yes - the world would see me as complicit,
they would dismiss this smile;
they would say i was too complicit -
i didn't call you out,
i didn't report you,
i stayed silent – predator, not prey.

never mind that to say silent is to stay employed;
to stay silent keeps you from being called a liar, a manipulator, a gold digger
to stay silent keeps food on the table for your children.

that disguise is demanded in every job contract.

About this poem

Published in Terra Incognita: Oregon Poets Write for Ecological, Social, Political and Economic Justice. Bob Hill Publishing.2019

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Written on November 02, 2017

Submitted by Ariel on September 19, 2021

1:41 min read
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Ariel

Ariel is a full-time Pacific Northwest poet, often participating at Oregon Open Mics events. She has been published in Gold Man Review, AIM, The Widow’s Handbook, and most recently in Terra Incognita, On The Platform Waiting and Free From Monsters. Ariel often collaborates in many Willamette Valley poetry/art projects and is a member of Oregon Poetry Association, Mid-Valley Poets Association, Willamette Writers and Poet. Her website is poetariel.net. more…

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