Being a woman means carrying a phobia—
Being scared of everything:
of darkness, of silent streets,
of being alone on life’s journey,
of a car bell ringing, of knocking
at doors, of glances from men,
from men who look at her only
in wrong ways. Being a woman
means being afraid of sounds,
of someone walking nearby,
of men who harass and touch
her while walking. When they speak,
men call her sister, but they ask her
something else…
Yes, being a woman means carrying
a phobia, a fear of others’ eyes watching
her from toe to head, blaming her
for being a woman, asking her to cover
herself, but staring
at her breasts, thinking
of her back, imagining
her naked
but she, she is always, always blamed—
because she is a woman.

By Sitara

Photo by Michael Foley