Atlanta Word Works / all

Male Privilege Poem

by share

I saw a girl on the train the other day

Her dress was navy green

She dressed it up with white accents

And a beautiful green gem necklace that was subtle but really made her outfit pop

I have no clue why she would be dressed up this nicely at a train station but that is non of my business

The point is that I wanted to complement her

But being that most of my friends are women

I’ve heard enough creeper horror stories to know that if I didn’t approach her correctly

I could go down in her own history book as another creepy ass guy on the train trying to holler

So I didn’t

I still don’t

As a child I was very observant in my household

Saw how my mothers and aunts voices failed in the air of most men that stood before them

Saw how abusive my uncles would be when their ego got the best of them

Especially when drinking

So when I’m drunk I try to do so without any women around me

I’ve grown shy of them

Not because I feel threatened but because I don’t want to seem threatening

I’ve seen how dog my gender can be and I don’t want to seem that way

but it’s not like I don’t have the same tendencies

If I see someone attractive I’ll want to look them up and down

Not thinking anything of it other than appreciation of their presence

Not noticing it’s invasion of privacy and not having to worry about it because no one says anything

Because I’m a guy

This perverse action is expected

But it’s not respectful

Through the poetry community I’ve learned to appreciate a woman’s body for the temple it is

I feel as though I’m disrespecting it when I linger on a woman’s bust or curves

Because it’s superficial

How is anyone expected to appreciate a body without first appreciating the mind behind it

Though I’m guilty of refuting this in the back of my mind

When you first meet someone you don’t meet their mind

You’re met their body

And maybe the respect there is not focusing on it but in trying to get to know them as a person rather than the body they inhabit

But again

Being that I have mostly female friends

I know that not all women even want to have a conversation or be complemented

So even if I were to be as considerate as I am

Or think I am

I could still come off wrong because of that persons experience with men

I’d be pooled with all the men that have hurt her physically and emotionally

But I can’t prove I’m none of these people in the span of a 2 min train ride

Not only because a lifetime isn’t explained and reshaped in two minutes

But also because I’ve grown up as a man

In an environment where abusing a woman’s submission is seen as power

I know I walk in privilege

Even if I don’t know exactly how

My confidence at a 12 am 20 min walk home is a privilege I never acknowledged

So why try

I feel like I’d waste breath and pride taking on the task of making a discussion into a 2 minute side talk

Who am I to approach someone

Who am I to selfishly want to show that I don’t see a woman as just a piece of meat

Just because I want to have a conversation

Just because I want to show validation

When no one asked to be validated in the first place

Who am I to place weight on that validation anyways


Even making this piece is proof of my privilege

Why is my perspective being validated when really it’s hers that needs to be acknowledged

Ivan, 18, attends Maynard Jackson High School. Check out more powerful poetry by Ivan, a member of Atlanta Word Works, VOX’s slam poetry program, which will co-host the Teen Poetry Slam on Sept. 4 at the Decatur Book Festival. Join us there at 5 p.m.! 

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