Liberating Words: I Am Not For Your Enjoyment

The poems in our ongoing “Liberating Words” series were written in an interdisciplinary course for high school juniors at The Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston, Mass. 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 1960’s and 70’s. 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.

MaxPixel / Creative Commons

i am not for your enjoyment.
by Lucy Narva

imagine sticky plastic
cobalt seats
where you can feel
every inch
between you and the man
reeking of alcohol
teeth rotted by bigotry
grin crooked with contempt.

no shame in mistakes
or misunderstandings.
even when
he thinks he’s the king
who gets his own two queens
even when
he thinks he can
“please you anyway”.
even when
he uses your honest-to-god self expression
to turn himself on.

imagine you give a slight smile
because even with your boy clothes
and your short hair
and your no-makeup face
it’s polite.

but suddenly he has ripped off the buttons on your favorite blue flannel shirt
and he forces his rough icy hands under your bra
and you panic when the nameless, faceless shapes around you don’t seem to care
and you can’t think straight but you’re pretty sure, very sure, that this is not okay at all
and you gasp because when it happens this way it doesn’t feel so good anymore.

imagine you shift away.
you shout no.
he shouts back.
bitch, you will never find a man
who will love you.
which is okay with you,
you say,
because your girlfriend
is waiting for you at home.

it seems you’ve shut him up.
now zip up your jacket
collect yourself
and get off the train.

imagine the shiny navy doors
shut behind you
but not before
he spits his final stab of self-defense:


Lucy Narva is a junior at the Winsor School. She is passionate about creative writing and queer rights activism—and is excited to showcase both of these aspects of her life in this piece!



Lia Kornmehl is a junior at the Winsor School who is passionate about jazz music, milk chocolate, and equal opportunities for women in the workplace.