Friday, March 15, 2019

Margaret Atwood: A Women's Issue (a poem, 1987)

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography. Margaret Atwood reads her poem "A Women's Issue".

The woman in the spiked device
that locks around the waist and between
the legs, with holes in it like a tea strainer
is Exhibit A.

The woman in black with a net window
to see through and a four-inch
wooden peg jammed up
between her legs so she can’t be raped
is Exhibit B.

Exhibit C is the young girl
dragged into the bush by the midwives
and made to sing while they scrape the flesh
from between her legs, then tie her thighs
till she scabs over and is called healed.
Now she can be married.
For each childbirth they’ll cut her
open, then sew her up.
Men like tight women.
The ones that die are carefully buried.

The next exhibit lies flat on her back
while eighty men a night
move through her, ten an hour.
She looks at the ceiling, listens
to the door open and close.
A bell keeps ringing.
Nobody knows how she got here.

You’ll notice that what they have in common
is between the legs. Is this
why wars are fought?
Enemy territory, no man’s
land, to be entered furtively,
fenced, owned but never surely,
scene of these desperate forays
at midnight, captures
and sticky murders, doctors’ rubber gloves
greasy with blood, flesh made inert, the surge
of your own uneasy power.

This is no museum.
Who invented the word love?

Margaret Atwood's reading of her poem is included in Bonnie Sherr Klein's film Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981).

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