Saturday, October 08, 2005

Prior Restraint

While doing research a few years ago for a women's studies term paper on Violence Against Women, I came across this poem in Pauline Bart's book Violence Against Women: the bloody footprints. I had all but forgotten about it, until recently when revisiting some of the same literature for a grant proposal, I stumbled upon it again. I wanted to post it here, very powerful words.


Prior Restraint

Every day I censor myself
Pinning my blouse so “nothing” shows
Checking my clothes so I don’t look vulnerable
Thinking of putting up my hair
So I don’t resemble a mark
Putting out trash in the morning
So I won’t be in the alley at night
Parking in well lit places
Leaving my office while there are still people
Remembering what happened last weekend
Taking my cleaning in early
So I won’t have to run the male gauntlet
Like last week.
I am censored constantly
My “free speech” cut from 25 to 5 minutes
My titles changed
Destroying the meter
And the politics
My articles expurgated of wit
So they will pass “peer review”
(the editors tell me)
Being canceled from conferences
And cut off the air
Because I might tell the truth
About the Chicago election.
Being threatened by my brother-in-law
Because I might tell the truth
About the men in my family.
I may not be asked to speak to sex educators on pornography
I may not say that pornography leads to desensitization
Leading to violence
Against women and children
Pornographers have protected speech
Leading to women having unprotected lives
My speech is not protected
Because my speech
May lead to
Censorship.