Poetry: If – A Rethink

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If – a feminist rethink of Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem

If you can love when all the men about you
Are making jokes about them raping you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
And know that you have doubts about them too

If you don’t lie, though you be called a liar
If you smile sweetly when you’re called a witch
If you can last til their tirades all tire
And still convince yourself you’re not a bitch

If you have dreams which don’t involve a master
If when you think, a man is not your aim
If you can meet with diets and disaster
And know they they will never be the same

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by boys to make a trap for girls
If you can love your body when it’s broken
And not fixate on straight hair or on curls

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And say that you will always be your boss
Then fail, and start again at your beginnings
And still declare that you don’t give a toss

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To walk this world with pride til fear is gone
And still be strong when there is nothing in you
Except the will that says to them hold on

If you can walk in crowds and keep your virtue
And walk alone without unwanted touch
If you don’t want your male friends to hurt you
And don’t feel like that’s asking for too much

If you can smile and still remain an optimist
And keep control of each part of your life
Then stand up and declare that you’re a feminist!
No matter if you’re single, or a wife!

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