When I Gaze Into the Looking-Glass (Video)

7 Mar


In honor of International Women’s Day 2013, over the yearning tune of Mary Lou Williams, I present my freeverse Everywoman’s tale: an allegory and an homage, part radical feminist piece, part performance art. A universal women’s narrative, playing out through a global lens, pointing out who we are and who we have become, and the parallel internal and external battles that rage on.



When I gaze into the looking-glass,
I despise what I see.
A woman. Flawed. Insufficient.
Pillow lips of blushing roses
A youthful face of innocence
Breasts made for sustaining life
Hips made for giving it
Even the hairs above my lip
Seem meaningless
And yet, I must remove them.
Hair above my genitals-
Isn’t it disgusting?
A healthy vagina, and yet so grotesque.

Sent to me to process like a torrent
My already overwhelmed psyche
And for me, to somehow, change.

Behind my eyes lies a world
That is cruelly misunderstood,
In spite of best efforts against it.
My eyes are like an ice wall,
Impenetrable and protective.
For what’s behind them could only be wrong.
It could never, ever, be right.
Or enough.
Or genuine.
Or valid.

Behind my heart is another veil
A hesitant keeper of
Deepest knowledge and intuition
Somewhere inside of me
I just know it
Is a she-wolf
A woman, as it is called,
“Who runs with the wolves.”

A soul that owns its own self
A spirit born of the Earth
Made for this universe
But not of this world.

How can such a perfect creature
Lie dormant inside the prison
Of my limitlessly flawed body?
How can she wait there, patient
As I am tossed about by the restless tempest of woman’s existence?
And how can this mother goddess re-emerge
Unharmed by her besiegement?
I see her, each month, slowly dying.
Viewed as but a weakness;
This is what makes her divine.

When I gaze into the looking-glass,
I despise what I see.
Why shouldn’t I?
I am but a worthless object
To be utilized as a vehicle for pleasure
And to count in the ownership of men I’ve never met,
Claiming the rights to my body.

I am the second sex
The fair & fragile
The figment of Adam’s body
Made not in God’s image.

I am the property of he,
throughout the ages,
a slave to Man’s “free will.”
And yet, this is neither my wish or my design.

How to prevail against the influence
Of total domination,
And the legacy of Man?
How to stand against the oppressor,
How to hear the voice of the internal guide?

To oppose the command of the great dictator,
The patriarch,
The dogmatic regime of the normative being
The non-other
The entity of consequence?

And how, dare I ask,
Can I bear a daughter to this life?
How do I engage in what is expected
Even if it is normal or human,
If what is either has never been a woman’s choice?

How do I gaze into the looking-glass,
And smile at the woman smiling back at me?

© Evin Maria Ximena Phoenix



Yoko Ono with ‘Cut Piece’
Suzanne Lacy’s ‘2 Weeks in May’
1968 Womens’ Labor Protest
Women protesting for a fair election in Iran
Women rallying against violence against women, Delhi
Sultana, survivor of an acid attack
Hasina, survivor of an acid attack
Um Dinay, acid attack survivor
Teenage girls, victims of acid attacks
Adam and Eve stained glass
Afghan Shia women’s protest
Afghan Shiite women’s protest
Amina Filal protest
Aung San Suu Kyi
Benazir Bhutto
– her memorial after assassination
Bibi Aisha
– after receiving some surgery
Vigil at Ghatkopar, Mumbai for gang rape victim
Girl in China
Delhi protests, continued
Lara Logan in Tahrir Square
Guerilla Girls
Hannah Wilke – Vulva exhibition
More Indian protests and vigils in response to the death of the woman who was gang raped
Judy Chicago – ‘Before the Dawn’
Lady Pink – graffiti artist’s street art
Liberian Refugee women’s protest
Maria Santos Gorrostieta’s wounds after the second assassination attempt
Mukhtar Mai
RIP Neda Agha-Soltan
Maria Santos, bullet wounds
NYC Wall of Respect mural
NY Radical Feminists protesting Miss America, 1968
Benazir Bhutto memorial
Peru women’s protest
Vigil against Delhi rape, violence cont.
Exhibit at Womanhouse
Women Hold Up Half the Sky mural
Malala Yousafzai

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