Caseyrenée Lopez is a queer poet, editor, and educator. Follow them on Twitter @caseyreneelopez.

Caseyrenée Lopez

let me name the ways to objectify women

a response to Jeffrey Harrison's "The Shoulders of Women" last night i was subjected / to overt sexism / by a white man / gasp / a man my stepdad's age a man with a receding hairline that reached so far back it could see the p a s t a man / who objectified / every / single / woman in the room / with each / u t t e r e d syllable / he said / with fake sincerity / that he didn't / like to / read this poem out loud because it was sexist but decided / to continue because some of his female friends said it wasn't so bad & that made it okay he said that a gay guy / once told him "the poem even turned me on" / as if that changed anything / as if that increased its value he wrote about the shoulders / of women let me name the ways to objectify women: 1. their shoulders are for male consumption 2. their skin glows star blue under male gaze 3. women are objects of his cis desire and his alone 4. their nakedness satisfies his hungry eyes 5. their bodies present him with fantasy & nonconsensual pleasure 6. their strapless dresses are made for his eyes / to linger over / contemplating the warm flesh u n d e r n e a t h 7. their shoulders are slaves / to his ego / an erotic show / to sate his boredom 8. their bodies are a casual display of sexuality / of femme presentation 9. don't you know / women don't dress for their / pleasure / but to swell man's pride 10. don't you know / a woman's inept mind is incapable of comprehending the ways their bodies lure men to do unspeakable acts of violence Let me name the ways cis male desires poison art: 1. i don't have enough letters or words or time to complete this task 2. read or watch the news for your daily dose of gendered violence

I wrote "let me name the ways to objectify women" after attending a ceremony at my alma mater for the Carson McCullers Literary Awards. I was the judge for the high school poetry category and was very happy about the opportunity to be involved in the selection process and ceremony. It was only after arrival that I was notified that there would be a reading by Jeffrey Harrison, a poet that I wasn't familiar with, though in retrospect, I see that it was likely because of his general WASPyness. Mr. Harrison read "The Shoulders of Women" but prefaced the reading by saying he didn't like reading it because it could come off as sexist. During the reading I cringed in my seat, feeling my skin crawl, I audibly gasped, rolled my eyes, and scanning the room, watched the jaws of every woman/femme person in attendance fall into the floor. After sitting through the 45-minute-long reading, I quickly gathered my belongings and left. I had a friend with me, and as we walked to my car I ranted about the disgusting poem and how we needed to write responses. I half-jokingly said, "That poem should've been called, 'Let Me Name the Ways to Objectify Women,' it was fucking awful," and my friend replied, "That's your response poem."

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.