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How to Avoid Sexual Assault

The men around me come from these misguided places of protection This feral need to shroud me like a cave With only my best interests at heart

They believe that arming me In baggy clothes and thick cotton Will protect this body, my body; So they tell me to cover my legs, And when they have no sense Of fathering, they say my thighs are too big anyway

They banish me from rooms When my untamed breasts become too much of a distraction And should my shoulders, which stretch from east to west, Bare more than a quarter-inch of themselves They ask me to jacket myself For my own safety.

They fuss, and they fuss But what they won’t tell me That I will tell my daughters Is that a Beretta Pico .380 ACP Will fit snugly in the folds of your purse. Beneath the remnants of your life, The lotion, the pads, the lipgloss, and scrap sheets of paper, That small piece of steel will blend in seamlessly With all the rest of your necessities

In response to “With No Immediate Cause” by Ntozake Shange, and written for an independent study I designed about Black feminist poetry.

© Ama Akoto (2018)

#protection #rhetoric #sexualassault

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