Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poem for Catharine A. MacKinnon's Sex Equality

A Poem about a Woman, her Daughter, and her Granddaughter – Accidentally Empowered Women in a Male Dominated World 

The woman took her first breath under Japanese colonial rule.
Dispossessed, disempowered, and desecrated,
Her people were not safe in their own home.

She escaped the fate of being taken as a 'comfort woman'
Because they only wanted girls aged eleven and above,
And she was three years too young, three years too young, three years too young,
By an accident of birth.

As the eldest girl of many children in a family of modest means,
She would never have been allowed to go so far as to middle school,
Had the Korean War not killed off her sisters and brothers.

By an accident of war, the woman became an only child.
Her heartbroken parents supported the woman through university,
Which is how she became one of the first female teachers in war-torn Korea.

Unlike most other women of her time and background,
The woman could read, write, and earn her own money.
Depression almost put an end to her sanity, but it did not destroy her in the end.

The woman’s daughter grew up not knowing poverty,
Because the woman could provide for her children amply,
Even though they lived in a poor nation recovering from war.

The daughter never knew colonial rule, poverty, or war.
But she knew discrimination and inequality too well,
Because she was a woman, she was a woman, she was a woman,
By an accident of birth.

Like the woman, the woman’s daughter wanted to make something of herself.
Unlike the woman, who worked in the female-dominated field of teaching,
The woman’s daughter wanted to break into the male-dominated field of law.

Everyone told her women can’t, women can’t, women can’t do what men can.
She joined the seven women entering the best law school in Korea,
In a time when women represented some thousandths of the legal profession.

The woman’s daughter now a lawyer had many hopes at the start of her career,
But woman hating cut too deeply for her to do all that she could do.
Sex inequality at work and home almost put an end to her career and breast cancer almost put an end to her life, but they did not destroy her in the end.

The woman’s daughter had a daughter of her own,
So the woman had a granddaughter who looked just like the woman,
And the woman became her granddaughter’s most trusted friend and love.

Empowered by the woman’s wealth and her daughter’s status,
The woman’s granddaughter grew up knowing the potential of women.
She also knew that the women she came from were extraordinary women, extraordinary women, extraordinary women.

Like the woman and her daughter, the woman’s granddaughter has wild ambitions.
Unlike the woman and her daughter, who have led individually empowered lives, 
the woman’s granddaughter dares to make the world safer for the collective Women, 
ordinary and extraordinary, disempowered and empowered, across borders and differences.
Rape in childhood almost put an end to her hope, but it did not destroy her in the end.


By: Nayoung Kim, written for Catharine A. MacKinnon's Sex Equality course.