On Being a Girl by Melissa Panayeta

My mother tells me that the worst decision I had ever made was to be born a girl.

To be born a woman in a world ruled by men

She tells me I am too eager, too loud, and too clever in a world that fights to silence little girls like me

But I say that she does not know I am not made of porcelain, she does not know I talk over boys she does not know I will not marry, she does not know I am not a child-breeding machine

She does not know I want to be a doctor

She does not know that I, my existence alone, is more than what this male run world could ever offer

My mother teaches me that women are here to serve, never to be served

Always make sure your brothers eat first. Always make sure you never threaten a man. Make sure you never talk back to a man. Make sure you know your stuff, oh but don’t be a smartass, boys don’t like girls who are too smart.

Be a lady. Close your legs. Sit up straight. Be quiet. Be seen, not heard. No one cares about what you have to say anyways. Shrink, don’t take up too much space.

Be smaller, smaller, smaller, it’s like they want me to disappear.

When I tell a boy that I am a feminist and he looks at me in disgust and tells me, “well that’s kind of a turn off…” as he slowly backs away from me and I can see the fear in his eyes.

Well, make sure to fill his car with tampons and unused shaving razors so that he has something to fear. Because god forbid I dare call myself equal to a man.

Because men like their women small. Men like their women weak. Obedient. Dumb. Submissive. Weak.

Girls around the world get denied basic human rights simply because they are girls. Are we not human? Girls get beaten and killed for simply wanting an education. Girls get blamed when something awful happens to them.

“Well, what were you wearing?”

“She was probably asking for it.”

Please stop.

“Boys will be boys” and “men will be men” you hear as a boy pushes a girl into the dirt or as a man screams obscenities at a woman walking home from work. A man’s actions are always excused because it’s always a woman’s fault. We are the cause to the effect.

But when will they say “girls will be girls” and “women will be women” when we defend ourselves, when we fire the warning shot? When will they justify our “mood swings” or when we accidentally stain the bed sheets?

Because my twelve year old sister said she didn’t understand why a man over three times her age constantly harassed her from the safety of his truck every day when she walked home from the bus stop.

It wasn’t until a cop showed up on his door step did he stop.

My sister tells me she still isn’t able to walk down the street without shaking.

I’ve known the same feeling since I was thirteen and two men followed me in their car all the while screaming and letting me know what they would love to do to my body.

I went home and cried to my mother and she told me, “get used to it baby, it never ends.”

Well we did not come from a man’s rib, men emerge from our wombs covered in a woman’s blood they learn to regard with disgust and learn to hate and learn to objectify the same body which breathed life into theirs

Men are taught to conquer. Conquer the land, conquer the people, conquer the girl, conquer the body, conquer her soul.

Conquer the whole damn world.

I wrap my chest and face in spiked wires to hold up my breasts and lips in an unfaltering smile

I am ordered to ignore the crimson sliding down my skin

Because being a girl means blood, being a girl means pain

Tear the fine grass on my body whose only purpose was to protect me

Learn to hate the hair

Learn to hate the body

Learn to hate yourself

Make me kiss the ground on which men spit on

Be smaller, submissive, nothing

nothing

nothing, nothing, nothing

nothing.

The word has tattooed itself in my bones, on my tongue and behind my eyelids and now it is the only thing I can say when people ask me what I feel,

When people ask me what I want

nothing

When people ask me what I think

nothing

What people ask me what I want to be

nothing

When people ask me what I am

I am nothing.

This world will bury women alive, it will take our innocence before we are even aware we have one

They will bury us alive but they did not know we are the earth, we are the soil beneath their feet, we are the air that they breathe, we are the water that they drink

Our bodies are moving hurricanes

When we exhale, tornadoes are born

The blink of our lashes causes the thunder they fear and hide from

Well they don’t call it Mother Nature for nothing.

Melissa Panayeta is a student at Lone Star College and a contributor to Campus Words. She is nineteen years old and a nursing major. She loves all kinds of artistic things like poetry, writing, painting and music. This poem was influenced by a lifetime of experience on being a girl. Hence the title.

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On Being a Girl by Melissa Panayeta

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