New Voices

By Paula Rudnick                              
I wasn’t a feminist when I was young,
before I found out about the bhurka’d women
whose husbands came home to beat them
and the Botox’d women
whose husbands came home to screw the nanny.
I didn’t know about the 10-year-olds raped by mother’s boyfriends
or the 14 year-olds pimped on city streets
or the 20-year-olds stoned in villages 
for getting pregnant out of wedlock
while their lovers were released.
I didn’t know about the girls whose mothers cut their vulvas
so they’d be more desirable for marriage
or the girls whose mothers slapped them when they menstruated
so they’d think twice before they spread their legs. 
I didn’t know about the women who weren’t taught to read
so men could feel they were smarter
or the women not allowed to work
so idle men could feel in charge.
But once I knew, I wanted more than boyfriends
who would take me to the prom.
I wanted to be someone who said things that rattled cages
in a voice that rose above the buzz
of men who said I talked too loud.

This poem first appeared in Moon Magazine in February of 2019. 

Since retiring from the entertainment industry, Paula Rudnick dabbled in memoir/short fiction, with the requisite unfinished novel in the drawer (do people still use drawers?). She began writing poetry in 2015, a form that nicely marries OCD tendencies with a short attention span and a busy schedule… much of it recently devoted to grassroots political work. Currently, she resides in Southern Los Angeles with her husband and their poodle Lola.