For Jyoti Singh Pandey

This is a poem I wrote several years ago. It resonates with me each time a tragic headline or untold personal story of a woman comes to the surface. Today, I dedicate it to Jyoti Singh Pandey, may your brave and strong soul find moksha.

We Are

My first lesson in gender inequality

Came at me like a bolt of gravity-defying
lightning striking my naïveté
Not from any masculine entity
but from the gender of my own identity—
a woman

I asked her why I had to wash his dishes
She answered
“Because he’s a boy
you’re a girl
it’s your duty

I couldn’t even begin to comprehend that absurdity

The land of freedom and equality
is only for those who’ve lost their
forgotten ancestry
Who fought for their rights to speak
and lead and work

But equality was not a value yet worth fighting for
in the lands and spaces occupied by the familiar faces
that we call mom and dad

We think America is progressive
moving forward at impressive paces
But the melting pot/assimilation strategy
was not realized, for
with every culture that enlivens
and colors in what was missing
comes tradition.




Since creation, tradition has been the ammunition
that has kept all women in subservient submission
Not to her Creator
but to man, who told her




We were their puppets pulled by the strings
they somehow took hold of
No solace for weary legs that walked miles
barefoot and blistering in the scorching sun
Those legs of ours
walking for hours
aching for a break from painstaking days

Those legs, crying for comfort and compassion
while calmly conceding to calloused hands
pushing them apart while invasion pushes in

Those wombs winning favor for sons yet
wounded when a daughter was born
Only to be eliminated, paying for the
hatred and strife that she is born to bear

Paying with her life

We keep paying for the sins of man
who had a few tricks up his sleeve when he
blamed it on Eve

We are raped until raw during war by their
infinite sins
with anything they can stick in:
HIV-infected dicks, broken beer bottles,
It makes me sick

Yet when her body has been broken and battered
the blame, too, is bestowed upon her
She’s the tramp, the seductress
who can’t control her licentiousness
And the supposedly stronger man who’s
supposed to be superior to her
All of a sudden succumbs to some inner demon while his
semen infiltrates her bleeding screams and
Courses through her shivering body
feeding on fractured dreams

She is expected to protect and maintain the moral ground
but how can she even stand upright when
being pushed down?

What does she feel when looking at her young daughter?

Knowing the innocence will soon dissipate as she, too,
succumbs to the very same fate
She dies to keep her children alive
no longer waiting for hope or help to arrive
Doing whatever it takes to survive
in the brutal battlefield called life

And who says only the poor are oppressed by
messed up notions of power
Plastic barbies bouncing around with fake boobs because
for whatever reason men don’t mind that hunk of fat
Fair and Lovely cream to
erase beautiful warm tones because they told you
Brown isn’t beautiful
Insecurity because a woman’s value appears to be
measured by the length of her hair
And yours is just too short
Skimpy clothing so men will flock to you
and so shocked are you when they fuck you over
when you weren’t sober

And worst of all,
we hand them the power

The right to abuse trust and
misuse us

We give in to the guiles of societal
bull shit when we sit and don’t take a stand to
fight for our rights with our own hands

They are no longer our protectors
only imposters interfering with our prosperity
With preposterously pathetic philosophies
about who we are and where we’re going

According to them.

What we need is
liberation from this
gender liability

We have surpassed everything they have passed out to us
We have been faced with their fists their fury their fire their venom
and we have prevailed
Because while hate stirs in their hearts
starting wars and burning down foundations
Love is what burns in our souls
Whether unwanted, unknown, unrequited or unappreciated

It is there

It is strong

Stronger than millennia of oppressive inequality
Withstanding all wounds with dignified integrity
It has been our key to
being, to fighting,
and to remaining…

We are


Jyoti's father, who wanted the world to remember his daughter's name
Jyoti’s father, who wanted the world to remember his daughter’s name

7 Comments Add yours

  1. shiggs91 says:

    Amazing and powerful poem. Thank you for sharing it.


    1. vnp1210 says:

      I appreciate your comment. Thank you!


  2. Marlene says:

    Thank you for so eloquently expressing what is in my heart. I was sexually abused as a child, and through that sadness and painful time I was able to gather my wounds and grow into a woman with great strength and dignity. Your words are powerful and meaningful, and your soul is good.


    1. vnp1210 says:

      Thank you for your honesty and openness. I am sorry for your suffering…


Comments welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s