Not All Men

Content warning: sexual violence.

Shoot the messenger but only when the delivery
through chattered teeth cracks you open heart-
first take his shoes, strip his chest, cut him sideways
lodge the bullet somewhere along the spine
of the book he carries and reads to you from again
teeth chattering because there you are with a gun
after all the men who followed you home shouting
about that ass, cornered you at parties messaged you
dick pics and hey beautifuls and marry mes and
propositions in slurry speech and memories you wish
you could forget here comes the messenger hateful
member shrinking between his thighs when he sees
you cocked and loaded and ready to ejaculate
your nope no more all over whatever apology
he wishes he’d arrived to deliver.

Wait. Back up. First make sure the messenger
is not all men, ask him to drop trow, draw comparisons
between your inbox and him in the sleet on your step
look closely. It is important not to mistake one man
for all the others whose hands traveled into your body
without permission or even request, their way of hello
between classes without showing their faces
make sure to tell him you are being cautious because
you hate it when you are labeled man-hater as much
as you hate whore, slut and every other variant implying
your hatred of men taking control of your body is the same
as a general distaste of men; your awareness that men
will harm your body, your distrust based on years of yes,
that happened to me no, I didn’t want it nor was I consulted
being conflated with all men are swine, all men deserve
a heart ripped out and a bullet to the spine as if to say
you are violent for imagining violence against the aggressor
as if to say you have no right to defend.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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