I know many women in this country woke up on Wednesday morning, as I did, filled with confusion and disappointment. As a former political journalist, I don’t like to get political. I’ve believed my role, as a reporter, is to be open, unbiased and in search—only—of the truth. Having worked with many a politico, I also know good people exist on both sides of a debate.
But Wednesday was different. As a woman and as an American. That’s why I’m proud to publish a poem by my multi-talented friend Sarahbeth Purcell. Sarahbeth is a novelist, poet, artist, and photographer.
She’s also my oldest living friend on the planet. Our friendship is all woman, in that it is true, unwavering and strong. As is Sarahbeth’s prose.
If you need to feel a little more pumped about being a woman in a new (and somewhat scary) world, read this, share it. With this poem, I propose this: “I’m with her” can continue to hold meaning for all of us. “Her” is the universal SHE. Her is any woman. I’m with her. I’m with all of you—all of US. I started this site and co-created this program because I wanted to empower women. And today, that mission has never been so clear, so needed, so important. Not just for us, but for our daughters and for our legacies. It’s still great to be a woman. In fact, it’s never been a better time. Because now we rally. Now we come into our power. Women are strong. And now we’ve got each other’s backs.
By Sarahbeth Purcell
There are things we don’t talk about, this tribe we don’t choose, because they are not allowed to be said.
We have been killed for merely thinking them.
When we care for ourselves, present our best versions to the world, we are not encouraged. We are not respected. We are not heard. We are never equal.
We are shamed.
We are destroyed.
We are a punchline.
We are immodest.
We just want attention.
We are superficial.
We are objects.
We should stop complaining.
We should be silent.
We should be happy with whatever we can get.
We are entitled.
We think we’re better than you.
We are too intense.
We are too boring.
We are potential, if we follow the rules.
We are not the kind of girl you take home to your mother.
We are your mother.
We are happy cheerleaders without dimensions.
We are not marriage material.
We are only marriage material.
We are not your friend, we are teasing you by being friendly.
We don’t really just want to be friends.
We only want to be friends, so we must be cruel.
We all just want to trap someone.
We are strange because we like being alone.
We will never find someone with an attitude like that.
We should not be feeling such profane thoughts.
We have been damaged, and that is why we are passionate.
We all desperately need the company of another.
We are too pretty.
We are ugly.
We are desperate.
We are bitches.
We are whores.
We are crazy.
We are catcalled.
“Where are you goin’, sexy?”
“Come here baby, have some of this.”
“Why you gotta be a bitch? Smile. You should be flattered.”
“You’re pretty. You’d be gorgeous if you smiled.”
“Hop in. You look like you need to get this.”
“All you need is to be fucked by the right guy.”
“You can’t be wearing shorts like that.”
“You know you want this.”
We don’t want this.
We don’t want any of this. We don’t want to be categorized. We don’t need to be defined by others. We are all different. We all have crosses we bear. We all have love within us.
We all get grabbed somewhere on our body by the time we are adults.
We have all been assaulted somehow. We carry the scars forever.
We are scarred.
We are afraid.
We have been stripped of rights before.
We will be stripped of rights again.
And so we fear.
Every day now we wake with fear.
We have it within us to heal these scars. We have it within us to unite.
But we must be heard.
We must stop being all those other words to you.
We are women.
And that is the only word we should be called.