Almost Always

“Almost always it’s the men
in cars — “Hey baby! Nice
ass!” – the ones who can escape

quickly, laughing, tires a squeal
of conqueror’s delight as we
keep standing or walking, trying

not to listen or care or shout back
motherfucking bastards (those words
we’ve learned to make feel so good

in our throats even though they
are also about hating women),
the men who drink beer, hang

out in the afternoon and evening
clusters, slapping shoulders, passing jokes,
comparing wheels and engines, riding

along thin streets like lords
looking for us, passing judgment, running
away in a snort of oily dust

before they have to speak with us,
before we are people, before we become
the women who will easily say no.”

By Katharyn Howd Machan

Found in: A.C. Sumrall & D. Taylor, eds., Sexual Harassment: Women Speak Out (Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1992): 164.

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