“A Woman’s Body is Not an Invitation,” or, “Vlog #1”



A woman’s body is not an invitation,

no matter what she is wearing

no matter what patch of flesh is exposed.


Contrary to what you think you are hearing,

her neck is not calling your name,

nor is her earlobe,

nor is her knee,

nor is her hair.


You think you are hearing that voice.

What you are thinking is wishful thinking.


She is not thinking of you at all.

She is thinking of the dogs she is walking,

of the blue sky,

of the letter she needs to write,

of the bill she needs to mail,

of the check she needs to cash.

She is not thinking that you will feel the need

to tell her how she should feel.


While she is writing this poem,

a black Volvo newer than her car will drive by

containing five high-school students.

One of them will catcall her,

then bravely drive away before she can respond,

before the whistler can face the consequences of their actions,

in a car purchased, no doubt,

by one of the children’s mommies or daddies.


This not in Paris or Los Angeles or Chicago,

but in Enumclaw, Washington,

where churches outnumber fast-food joints,

where some of the children have never made it

so far as Seattle.


While you will forget in a matter of five minutes

that you whistled at a woman today,

she will spend the next half hour,

and then, less intensely, the rest of her life,

deciphering her appearance, her outfit,

like a detective,

despite trying to convince herself that

she does not care,

that at 28 she is the most confident in her skin

that she has ever been.


Was it the skirt? Its slit?

The V-neck? The bra strap?

The earrings? The necklace?

The make-up? The shoes?

Should her hair have been down? Up?

In a bun? But then her neck would have been exposed …


Sarah Kay says,

            If you are the kind of woman men want to look at,

            you can let them look at you.


This is true, and self-empowering.

Looking, after all, is not touching.


However, apparently these children never learned

from their mothers, or Thumper the rabbit’s mother, that

            If you don’t have anything nice to say,

            don’t say anything at all.


Mothers, tell your sons,

that a woman is not an elbow

a wrist

a neckline

a pair of breasts

an ankle

a head of hair

a hoop earring.


Tell them, instead,

that a woman is


and endurance

and secrets

and anxiety

and a stiff spine

paired with resting bitch face

to ward off those who feel it is appropriate

to whistle at a woman.


About Andrea Nicole

NZ enthusiast in the PNW. Internationally published writer, educator, grammar nerd, genealogist, and all-around storyteller. Recovering homebody. @Whitworth and @WGU alumna. #edchat
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