Liberating Words: “Unsee Me”

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.

Unsee Me

By Sophia Shade

Walking home from the T,
Wearing basketball shorts and a puffy coat.
A man honks his horn.
He honks his horn at me,
Honks his horn at my legs.
My 8th grade legs,
Legs that should not be noticed.

Summer before 9th grade, I had a curfew.
10 o’clock every night
No exceptions.
Every night I got home and my parents stood at the door waiting for me,
Waiting for me anxiously.

My brother is 14 now.
He shoots hoops at the park,
Wearing basketball shorts and a puffy coat,
His 8th grade legs go unnoticed.
He walks home late
And my parents leave the door unlocked.

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Sophia Shade is a student at the Winsor school in Boston and wrote this poem for her feminism class. The course has opened her eyes to many subtle but pervasive gender dynamics that exist today, and she chose to illuminate the daily objectification of young women in her poem.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user InertiaCreeps licensed under Creative Commons 2.0