I feel unsafe on the land on which I walk,
though each grain of sand beneath my feet
is a testament to my existence.
This is the land that raised me,
shaped me into being,
the blood of my ancestors
still running cold underneath,
the land where I was born
the land to which I shall return,

The land that vowed to love me;
yet that very land
is unable to protect me today;
a woman.

I try to avert gazes
that look hungrily ahead,
mirth in their eyes
as looks are exchanged,
my DNA itself aware of what
meaning each look holds.
I am nothing but another item
to be gained, or to be used
for purposes of ridicule,
for their own enjoyment.
I am nothing but a mere object,
personified as a human.

A checklist in my mind
crosses each line off one by one:
is this covered, is that covered,
am I covered,
so I fall victim to the lesser of gazes
compared to the woman
who dares to show
a snippet of her skin.

“I shall not be objectified”
“I shall not be objectified”
I tell myself repeatedly,
to instill in me even a shred of self-dignity.
But even with all of my skin
compellingly hidden away
and my clothes
no way making evident, that I
may in fact be a woman,
my face betrays me
as I fall victim to crude glances
“You have already been objectified”
my voice tells me,
“the moment your chromosomes decided to be female.”

My beloved land,
the day a woman
had to cower down
before a man
for his own pleasure
was the day
you failed her,
you failed me,
you failed us all.

Published by Lamiah Nasir