The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

by Marquise Jackson

*Shhhhhhh…*

Listen to how her voice carries the softness of her words
She speaks with such confidence because the people around her don’t give her any

or have much of it themselves.
Talk about an unstable environment

The people around you love to see your success grow

as long as it doesn’t rise above theirs.

Talk about unstable relationships

Where close friends act as if they’re closest to you
just until you guys run into a little conflict and create some distance because

in my mind, the only way someone can talk behind my back is if I’m already in front of them.

But, this ain’t about me…
This is about how young girls, by the age of 15

begin looking to young boys to define their beauty.
This is about how young boys, by the age of 15

begin looking to young girls to stroke their masculinity.
Do you see where I’m going with this?

Young girls have a hard time growing into young women

when they are taught by music, media, and television

that the only way to be woman
is to look pretty and be quiet
because being beautiful is painful and

women know they can’t let anyone see them hurting
see them confused

Being woman is being told to watch your weight.
Being woman is being told that you must have a man.

A man with a nice car that you eventually get inside of, but learn very quickly

that he can’t even hold a conversation, let alone your hand.

But this the man you supposed to be wit right–?
Right.

Young boys have a hard time growing into young men

when they are taught by much older men
who don’t even know what to teach themselves

that the only way to be man

is to have a body count you got trouble counting.
The higher his body count, the higher his self-esteem.

Men desire some crazy body count

so they can have something
to talk about wit bro ass cuz, you know,

masculinity is being able to brag and boast about

how many women you’ve fucked, but no longer fuck wit
and I don’t get it…

We always talk about how men and women ain’t shit

but we never wanna drop the shit that we carry around.

This poem is not one-sided because it is coming from a man.
This poem is coming from a man who knows how to identify more than one side.
This poem is coming from a man who knows how to defend women

because sometimes you would rather break each other down than build each other up.

I know her past and how she wishes it was not passed on to her.
She grew up bitter because her parents had fruits of the spirit

that did not taste good.
She came from a family, a household that just happened.

Each member of the family placed inside of the house at random.
She now walks on water because her past kept her beneath the surface.

Our fathers,
Our boyfriends,
Our husbands,
They all say she too powerful.
She too smart,
She too focused,
She too driven,
She too sexy,
She too… Woman.
And if a man ever says that you’re too “woman” for him,
He just isn’t “man” enough for you.

I do not need anyone coming up to me after this piece is finished.
Telling me how I broke the “bro code”.
Telling me how “we ain’t cool” no more.
We must not have been “cool” in the first place if this is too much for you.
You should be thanking me.
Maybe, now you can keep a woman longer than tomorrow.
And that just doesn’t happen too often, now does it?
Oh— you’re welcome.

Marquise Jackson is an English and Creative Writing major at the University of Iowa.