It’s a Long Walk, and It’ll Never be Done

I dreamt I was in a time where women’s value was based on the honour they upheld,

Something that could be lost by as thoughtless an action as a slip of an ankle exposed.

The wind lifting our burkhas was the devil betraying the inherent immorality within us.

Even an invasion of our own bodies was our fault,

For we were too tempting, our seduction wearing down men’s will at every move we made.

A walk by ourselves, a smile at a stranger, even fixing our headscarves, signalled an irresistable invitation for them to have their way with us.

Any word we screamed to the contrary dismissed, as the false cry of a dishonourable woman who deserved it.

We were given sandals designed to slow us down and trip us up,

Then laughed at, derided, for succumbing to their effects.

A hill became an insurmountable barrier to the places we wanted to go,

So we stayed at home performing the womenly duties assigned to us,

Simply because there were no other options available.

I, who had come from a time of at least pretended equality between the sexes, tried with all my might, at every opportunity given me, to prove myself capable, to the men I was in the midst of.

It was a constant battle shrugging off the laughs,

Ignoring the expectations of failure.

They gave me challenges I’d never come across before, that they themselves were practised and learned in.

We were destined for subjugation.

Or forced into it.

Either way, there was no escape.

I was doomed to tumble and stagger under the weight of burdens supposedly only men could shoulder.

Logic, planning, rationality, intelligence were not needed in my homely domain, they told me.

Just leave it up to us, they said.

Wouldn’t it be easier, I began to wonder, to give in and pass on the workload to someone who wanted it.

But I knew I was stronger than they believed me to be,

I had to make them see.

The women around me were disheartened, yet never quite broken.

They knew deep inside the true complexity their characters contained,

If some were silly, shallow minded fairies it’s because they were brought up to be so.

The more open minded men came around to my view,

The intelligent ones, who could see what they missed out on by excluding half the population from contributing, encouraged us,

Leaving naked the desire for power that drove all the bigots.

So the burkhas were shod, and the shoes they were swapped.

For our own toed feet.

They’d been imprisoned in the sandals so long to preserve their delicacy, that they had become what the men proclaimed them to be,

Pale with lack of exposure to the world.

But the smaller span of our soles hurt less walking over the stones,

We were nimble and quick, while the men winced in wonder.

With determination, the women hardened their callouses,

Kept pace with their old masters,

Until finally, finally both sexes walked side by side.

Man and women, together strength doubled.

Combining forces now, they knew they’d never relapse,

There was too much to lose,

Honour held them all back.


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