This Beautiful Poem Redefines And Reclaims #NotAllMen

READING TIME    4 Minutes

While the rest of us celebrated the new year, women in Bangalore were subjected to a horrific case of mass molestation. Almost every woman has been molested at least once in her life, and I've honestly lost track of how many times I've been groped on the local train. The internet's response to this shameful incident was #NotAllMen. Not all men are like the perverts who stare at women, cat-call, grope, molest, and rape. While I do agree that #NotAllMen are the same, the hashtag irked me anyway. And I couldn't figure out why until I came across Harnidh Kaur's poem.

#NotAllMen know that I've marked
numbers into my skin and I put a
tally mark for every month for the
seven years I once read about- I
read that my skin, flesh, muscle, bone
will all be new, they won't still hold
shadows of claws ripping at them

#NotAllMen, I suppose, realise that
women walk checkpoint to checkpoint,
a game of chase played with safety,
each flood of streetlight silver the only
space between witness offered to her
being and a 'why was she alone at night'

#NotAllMen see how women weave in
and out of checkered lights in a parking
lot, keys thrust out between knuckles,
knees bent into a crouch, eyes flickering
from window to window hoping they can
somehow stop horror from being real if
only they could see it before it lunged

#NotAllMen have felt how skin feels
alien, like a lie slipped on every morning
when you can't look into a mirror and
call its entire expanse your own because
someone chose to grip your faith by its
roots and pull it out strand by strand, till
you were left stripped of every truth

#NotAllMen grasp the meaning of 'yes,
all women'- i wonder if any of them know
how it feels to be told your body is a live,
unstable pile of explosives, and the air
around you is filled with angry sparks just
trying to seek space between your bones
to burn your being down to the ground.
#NotAllMen, of course
but just enough.

By @PedestrianPoet

This beautiful, haunting piece of writing speaks for every single woman, and hopefully man out there. It turns the hashtag on its head, and gets us back to the never ending issue of women's safety. Harnidh told us,

"The hashtag started as a joke if you look at its history. It has, however, been used seriously by men- educated, aware men- to hijack important conversations about women. It's used as a diversion because the crime of generalization is not as grievous as that of women dying. Quite literally. Women have had words, places, spaces stolen from them. This was an attempt at reclamation of what is rightfully mine as a woman. A space to speak."

This poem is frankly, the most hard hitting take on #NotAllMen, and I'm so thankful to have come across this.

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