Liberating Words: “Out of Line”

The poems contained in this series, “Liberating Words,” came out of an interdisciplinary course for high school juniors at The Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston. The course, “The Personal Is Political:  An Interdisciplinary Look at Feminism,” is co-taught by Libby Parsley, a history teacher, and Susanna Ryan, an English teacher. The second unit of the course focuses on the history and literature of second-wave feminism: the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Students read a compilation of poems by women writers from that period and then wrote their own poems; the assignment asked them to represent an issue or problem they see as central to 21st-century women’s experience through the very personal genre of poetry.

Out of Line

By Julia Mastandrea

Calm down.
Don’t tell me to
Not judge a woman’s appearance, so
Unattractive. You should
Not criticize a man for being
Quick to point out the truth. A woman would
Be better served to be
Quiet and gentle and still
Remain calm
I am able to
Shout my opinions
I do not need to
Appease your foolish sense of entitlement
There won’t be anything to
Make me feel weak
If I decide to speak you won’t
Step out of line and
I will speak my mind.

(now read from the bottom up)

Julia Mastandrea is a 17-year-old ballet dancer and attends the Winsor School in Boston.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ley licensed under Creative Commons 2.0