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The "F" Word
By Linda Eve Diamond 

Some cringe at this word—as if it’s the downfall of society

snarling it, pronouncing it with a sneer—the f bomb 


that chips away at glass ceilings, the fem-fatal ism

feared as a threat to a precious, delicate imbalance


as it questions perceptions and expectations 

and illuminates dispiriting statistics and lists 

even oddly ubiquitous linguistic tricks

the f word, itself, telling—as an ism…  



Deep voices on high say to be quiet and for f—’s sake 

stop saying the f word. There’s no need for feminism.


Feminists, they say, sound angry and ought to know

that women are already equal and don’t earn less and 


also there are reasons women do earn less, but relax;

no one said we’re worthless; we’re just worth less.


It’s all in how you calculate, they say, and 

feminists are clearly way too calculating… 



Meanwhile, women—without whose labor

no one would be anywhere


go on being underpaid, under-respected

underrepresented and under-protected 


fighting to gain and hold every bit of ground 
and told what’s been fought for was “given”


hearing that hormones make us unbalanced,

unable to compete, untrustworthy to lead


from certain men who take pride in rage,

excusing the inexcusable, out-of-control  


destruction allowed because “boys will be boys” 

and it’s just hormones; women don’t understand. 


Men can be driven by testosterone, but at least 

it’s not one of those terrifying lady hormones… 



Generations come and go in the flickering

gaslight as speakers blare with old refrains:


Be patient. It’s not your time. 

We’ll tell you when it is.


You’d need a unified message but

all women don’t agree on everything


Look how far you’ve come. 

You should be smiling.


It’s just the way it is. 

It’s just the way it’s been. 


Feminist voices answer in echoes 

through an unjust status quo:


It’s not just the way it is. 

Not just the way it’s been.



Imagine a world without feminism

because the word is no longer needed


   (outside of history books 

       and cautionary tales).



This poem first appeared in the International Women's Writing Guild publication, Network (Fall 2022).

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