a spoken word poem by Meghan Schrader, Senior English & Communications Major
I grew up watching Disney princesses,
Fall in love with the first man they bumped into in the forest.
I grew up hearing their feminine songs,
Watching woodland creatures cling to them,
Like they were the answer to a long-asked question.
I climbed a mountain,
Stood in the forest,
And found only myself;
I found that dresses were shit attire for hiking.
I found that most animals in the woods do not want to be pet or sung to.
I found that the men you meet alone in the woods rarely want to marry you,
And thank the gods for that.
I grew up watching Disney princesses,
And feeling sorry for the Villain-Mother-Queen,
Or whatever feminine beast
Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen head
Decided to project his male insecurities and internalized misogyny onto next.
I grew up watching Disney princesses decimate ambitious women,
And get married the next day.
I grew up watching ancient battles,
Where it was hard to tell,
Who was good and bad,
Until I realized such a thing does not exist.
I grew up,
And found I had more in common with Achilles,
Waging war for lovers,
And putting an arrow through any fucker who got in the way,
Even if it was ourselves.
I grew up in a world
That told me to be dainty, delicate, dim-witted woman,
With a father who told me to be conqueror.
Who told me to shout to the masses ‘Are you not entertained!’
When they realized I had stopped performing.
He told me that ‘even god-kings bleed’
And to ‘come back with my shield or on it’
And that if anyone tells me to lay my weapons down,
I should tell them to ‘come and fucking get them.’
My father told me that ‘there are no pacts between lions and men’
That ‘men are wretched creatures’
That I was the ‘envy of the gods.’
He warned me against men who would burn down a city for me,
When I was perfectly capable
Of burning it down my godsdamned self.
My father taught me that ‘death smiles on us all.’
And ‘all a man can do is smile back.’
So, smile at me, baby.
Don’t worry about the fangs when I smile back.
I grew up,
And had to find a way to reconcile beautiful girl,
With slaying my enemies.
I became a pretty piece of armor;
People have long begged me for my gentleness,
For soft hands,
And soft words,
And a softer voice,
And eyes that appear kind.
They have begged me for compassion and understanding,
For quiet murmurings and sweet kisses.
All I have ever been able to give them was sharp edges,
And cutting words,
And cold hands,
Offered at the end of a knife.
Gold-plated girl has never known softness,
And she doesn’t want to.
I am battlefield-bred girl.
I am warrior-raised woman.
I don’t pick flowers.
I carry a sword and a shield like I know how to use it.
I know how to use it.
Silver teeth and steel spine and clawed fingertips.
Don’t waste your time wondering if I am going to cut you.
I am going to cut you.
Gold-plated girl wearing obsidian crown.
Stop begging for me to be your sunshine.
I am no one’s fucking sunshine.
Not even my own.
I am raging inferno woman.
I choose violence before peace talks.
I jump to anger before considering calm waters.
I have never been water.
I am the wildfire,
Or the mountain,
Or the hurricane,
Or the volcano,
Or the guillotine,
Or the sword.
And I promise,
You have never seen a rage like mine.
Stop asking for kindness,
For a gentleness I do not have.
I’m not going to conjure up a fairytale for you.
I’m not going to lay down an arsenal of blades for you.
I am not going to feign softness for you.
I am not going to lower my voice for you.
If it hurts your ears, then get the fuck out.
Because this is my house,
Built brick by brick atop my shoulders.
I crafted a castle complete with battlements,
And it is gilded.
And this isn’t a sad poem.
It’s a ‘fuck you’ poem.
Fuck you for ever making me think I was too hard,
Too covered in armor,
Too shining like a star,
but not for you.
Fuck you for thinking I was anything other than a queen or a god,
For making a distressing damsel of me,
A housewife of me,
A beauty queen,
Fuck you for asking me to cut this armor from my skin,
As if you were hoping to find something beneath it.
There is nothing beneath it.
I am not the answer to your questions.
I am not the end to your suffering.
I am not your manic pixie dream girl,
I’m just fucking manic.
I’m not the depressed and anxious princess,
Waiting for her knight to save her from the gilded tower.
I am the dragon at the gates,
And if you can smell the smoke,
Then it is already too late.
If you find me entombed in the woods,
Under stone and flowers,
Remember that there is a reason
They put me to sleep.
There is an age-old curse on my bloodline
For a reason.
I’ve grown immune to cursed spinning wheels,
And poisoned apples,
And sickly-sweet words.
I have no need for fairy godmothers;
I spin my own spells,
Holding rituals in dark woods.
If you are looking for a fairy tale,
For a girl made of honey and glass and pixie dust and softness,
Of sugar and spice and domesticity,
Check the next battlefield–
I mean kingdom–
Because this one’s mine.