Ohio University

Art Install Poetry

Poems

This page is provided to improve accessibility to those viewing the International Women's Art Installation. The following are poems that have been shared on social media through images, and have been posted here as text.

The Women’s Center and Ohio University have provided the venue for the International Women’s Art Installation (IWAI). The art submitted for this year’s virtual event reflect the views, opinions, & values of the submitters only. This art was submitted by this year’s artists and participants of IWAI. Anyone who would like to see different ideas or themes is welcome and encouraged to submit for IWAI 2021. Please contact us at womenscenter@ohio.edu for more information!

A No Apology Poem

This poem is by Megan Knicely and was contributed as part of the International Women's Art Installation, December 2020.

For this poem, Knicely took inspiration based on interactions in the workplace: “In a four-hour shift, I caught myself apologizing to one man I work with around twenty times, but he only apologized once. This led me to question the reasoning behind my apologies. I began my research by talking to some friends to see if they had similar experiences. I found that my female friends shared in my experience, but my male friends did not. Obviously, this is a minuscule sample, but it led me to research more extensively and eventually determine that I would like to apply what I have learned to my poem. This poem is primarily based on a study that found that women have a lower threshold than men for what they deem offensive (Schumann). Tara Swart’s theory that constant apologizers have perhaps developed the habit due to a childhood of feeling incorrect or fearful will be utilized in the concluding portion of this poem (Castrillon). The notion from Dr. Hinshaw that girls are raised in contradicting conditions that negatively impact the growth of a woman will be at play throughout this piece (Jacobson). I hope I have weaved these three sources together through my own words to create a piece that will inform & inspire women.

A No Apology Poem

By Megan Knicely

At work, I step the wrong direction. I mumble,

"Sorry".

The person whose path I

blocked says nothing. He

merely continues.

I stride toward the grill to do

my job, passing a man

completing his. There is

momentary hesitation as

our paths cross. We both proceed.

We start to express ourselves

at the same time. "I'm so

sorry!

Go ahead!" I squeak before

I fall silent.

I begin to speak

only to hear another

voice. "Go ahead!" I

exclaim, waiting a moment

to share my thoughts.

I arrive minimally

late and immediately feel

"Sorry!"

escape my lips. Does this

ritual improve anything?

11:03 I enter the

conference. Small talk is

everywhere, and I 

take my place. The meeting

begins late as always.

"Are there any questions?'

I have one, but should I

"Sorry

I just had a quick question"

It is his job to answer

students' questions though.

The professor calls for questions. "Could you

clarify what you mean by"

A seamless explanation

ensues. I form a more 

comprehensive understanding.

A sea of people urges

around me. Each movement

results in collision.

"Sorry,"

I utter, barely audible. This

apology is lost in the clamor.

People rush to their

destinations, brushing one

another along the way. I am

no different. On a mission to

obtain food, I graze a few

arms and am nudged by others.

Powerful people are undermined by one word.

Reclaim authority, and stop the fruitless apologies!

Uneducated.

I [wanted] to write a poem about women’s suffrage, given that this year marks the centennial anniversary of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote. I would like to discuss historically from an educational as well as emotional perspective, seeing as women’s history remains a sorely neglected topic in public schools, which seems rather inaccurate given that women represent 50% of the world’s population. Yet, they are consistently underrepresented in the classroom. Giving young girls the impression that their stories really don’t matter enough to cover and that they simply didn’t or can’t make a difference. In that regard, I would like to write a poem with the intent to educate people on the topic of women’s suffrage. The hardships they faced, the women behind the movement, historical gatherings, the manifestos and literature they drafted as well as the racism that divided the movement. I would like to explore and educate through the lens of intersectionality, so that people are not just historically educated, but culturally educated as well. I hope to leave them with a feeling of pride in the progress that women have made, but also with room to learn from the mistakes of past leaders and movements in order to provide a more intersectional and open-minded environment within the classroom.

Uneducated.

A Poem by Anonymous

Women.

Represent half the population.

Yet are underrepresented,

Improperly educated,

Unheard of.

 

Women.

“Well-behaved women

seldom make history” (Ulrich).

Even the ones that are not,

They too, seldom make history.

One woman,

for every three men,

is mentioned

 in American classrooms.

Over half are White.

Only a quarter are Black.

Many historical women,

are covered within

protest movements,

over STEM accomplishments.

It remains clear,

The women of our history,

Are being muzzled,

Racialized, and

compartmentalized

by our school systems.

 

Women.

Being a woman myself,

I strive to set the

historical record straight.

To acknowledge the women,

your history teachers forgot.

To reclaim a history that has been

deemed subordinate.

A history to be celebrated,

but also remain a lesson in itself.

A history of women’s suffrage--

a woman’s right to vote.

 

A movement.

Ignited by three prominent women…

One, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

An educated White woman,

gave her speech in 1848,

 “The Declaration of Sentiments.”

The call to arms

for the discussion of suffrage

After declaring the rights of women,

All that was left to do was fight for them!

With the help of, Susan B. Anthony,

A White Quaker woman.

Raised on beliefs of equality,

regardless of sex.

Along with, Sojourner Truth,

A black woman speaker and

 credited abolitionist.

Her 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”

challenged systemic gender roles

that befell women.

These three women laid the groundwork for…

 

A movement.

After fifty stagnant years,

Was revived by

another Quaker woman,

 Alice Paul.

Bringing national attention,

Picketing the White House,

Eliciting the nickname of the “Silent Sentinels”,

Who stood outside the White House,

Day and night,

Rain or shine,

All in the name of

winning women the right to vote.

The 19th amendment,

granting suffrage to white women,

passed on August 26th, 1920.

 

Brought about change.

But not for all women…

One black woman, Ida B. Wells,

Not permitted to march in front

The Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913.

Instead confined to the back,

On account of her race.

 

Brought about change.

And although monumental,

The Suffrage Movement remains…

Tainted with racism.

Plagued with horizontal hostility.

Rather than view each other as allies,

Instead costing black women the vote.

That privilege, was not granted black women,

For another 45 years.

 

The most important lesson here…

to take the new knowledge,

expand our perspectives,

continue to LEARN from our past.

Striving toward an intersectional society.

 

A society where:

Women’s history is equally prominent.

Where women themselves are prominent.

A society where women are equally represented.

 

Women.

A movement.

Brought about change.

Through intersectional education.

A Note from the Women's Center: To learn more about the recent suffrage centennial celebration, please visit: https://www.ohio.edu/diversity/womens-center/suffrage-centennial