Poetry should make you feel uncomfortable. Push you to your limits, hold mirror to your soul. Question your beliefs. It should make you think. And Helly Shah’s poem, “What Society Says to Men,” does exactly that for me.
“I always felt like men were born with sense of entitlement to this world,” Helly Shah states early in her poem. It’s both correct and grossly misinformed. Yes, men have it easier than women. But both men and women have to live up to some insane standards in society. The only exception is, the majority of men’s standards are self-inflicted.
Men are more than likely to get a raise or a promotion in the workplace than a woman who has proven to be better skilled. But men are also more likely to commit suicide.
And it’s easy to blame feminism, but feminism doesn’t calculate into a man’s suicide. Nor does it calculate into the idea that men don’t cry. That is a myth created by men, propagated by men, instilled by men.
And the thing that gets me the most is that men don’t see it. Instead, they flood into the comment section of Helly Shah’s poem and bark out comments like, “[F]eminists should take note; THIS IS what a strong woman looks like,” while ignoring that the statements quoted by Helly Shah has been quoted by every feminist in the movement.
“So don’t get me wrong. This is not a debate about feminism or a million other isms,” Shah states, concluding her poem. And yet men’s right activists have crowned her queen of their movement, not realizing that it’s groups like them that place the burden on men.
3. Be a man.
Said the father who was never there.
Said the alcoholic uncle who couldn’t stop staring at the blouse of his neighbor’s daughter.
Be. A. Man.
What an ideal to set for the 13-year-old boy
who is shaving his nonexistent moustache
who is experimenting with the protruding parts of his body
who is so awkward to be around numbers of the opposite sex
who is struggling to be a teenager in the first place!