by my gender I am not,
for the side has now become
the center (your side, my center).
For me--for Everywoman,
though mislaid and sidetracked for millenia past--
I am where it's at.
And your little thing
may someday be hung,
vestigial, obsolete, or stuffed,
in a marble museum/mausoleum
in a niche with the rack and the thumbscrew
and other relics of dead religions
and the dry bones of dinosaurs.
For we curvy opticians have been grinding the lens,
to refocus, redefine, and realign
the center and the side.
And now in the holy temple of the kitchen
at the smoking altar of the stove
bosomy Talmudic scholars barbecue masculine ribs (you liar)
and procreation flourishes, as before
In my womb,
in my heart,
in my fertile mind,
now at last seen
as the center of significance.
This poem is dedicated to Joanna Russ, in appreciation for her brilliant study entitled How to Suppress Women's Writing (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). On p. 84, Russ offers a quotation from an article by Judith Long Laws entitled "The Psychology of Tokenism: An Analysis" (in Sex Roles, I: 1, 1975, p. 51). A portion of Russ' quotation from Laws' article follows:
Tokenism is...found whenever a dominnat group is under pressure to share privilege, power, or other desirable commodities with a group which is excluded...tokenism advertises a promise of mobility which is severly restricted in quantity...the Token does not become assimilated into the dominant group, but is destined for permanent marginality...