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  • Writer's pictureThe Feminist Times

He or she?

Walking down the forest one day

I come across a young man trembling in pain

His unnerving screams being hushed

by the night rain

I rush to him while stones make way through my skin

But save a few scratches he seems just fine

What’s the matter I ask, running out of breath

Nothing he whimpers, just waiting for death

But, you’re just a boy I cry

Nearing your prime, destined to fly

A boy born in this society he replies

Every prick I feel I’m supposed to hide

No more than a warrior protecting his lady’s pride

I am the muscle they say, and I play the part

Carrying heavy loads deep in my heart

A woman can yell at me all she likes

But if I raise my voice I’m ostracised

And all this I should bear with a smile

Because that’s what a gentleman is like

You have no idea through what all I’ve gone

Been called pansy for every shred of emotion that I’ve shown

And if I didn’t then I’m cold and brute, no heart just stone


You’re tired of labels, asked I?

I’m a slut if I wear revealing clothes, a whore if I talk to ‘too many’ guys

An attention seeker if I wear makeup

But if I don’t rip my body hair out, I’m not feminine enough

Wherever I go whatever I do, every step of the way I have to prove myself,

Just so they can see

That I’m so much more than a child-bearing factory

Whenever I hear that a sister of mine has been catcalled or wrongly touched,

my blood boils

But then, a shiver runs down my spine

Cause who knows, I may be next in line

When I take a stand I’m fake and complacent if I don’t

Living in a world where being a feminist is a crime

Because who speaks up against the atrocities you’ve endured all your life?

He asks,

So according to you the whole gender is at fault then? (Now I can’t stress this

enough but)


Neither is it about establishing supremacy

It is about having a voice

One that is your birthright

One for which I daily have to fight

What we don’t understand is that this society, it attacks us all

It’s not you against me, it’s us against a system that needs to fall

‘Cause when I look at the ground,

I can’t tell his red from mine

And as I look closer, I see

Not a he or she

It’s humanity that bleeds

-Mannat Arora, 17

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