With the Victimized, White, Upper Middle Class Male


He smiles, ‘Not you-
All the other girls who think your thoughts, differently,’
when his joke responds to me,
my thoughts, my way.

…Really? So you weren’t listening?

Or your wounds are so big that you’re
a little trigger-happy, prone to lash out-
to think your thoughts, differently?

Or you are lying to me.
Reciting the Good
Guy Creed,
that you never believed.


I smile, ‘Of course,’ with the slow release of lips.
The bitter

aftertaste of important words swallowed.


He breathily laughs,
puts his hand up to pacify.

My lips form a smile,
like a dog playing dead.


Maybe if you touch my hand,
my hand will have touched yours
as though saying it accepts the apology

you don’t make.


He joys a joke
that tinkles like a rebuke,

and I sit down,

nod a smile,


But my eyebrows flash knowingly,
for a tiger provoked

Maybe walks inside,
patronizes the cage.


Urgent words wash down
so easily
chased by the lies in which we were raised.


When I become a butterfly, I fly into outer space,

and fly out of it through one chip
in a snow globe of glass.

15 thoughts on “With the Victimized, White, Upper Middle Class Male

  1. I guess I’ve never encountered that situation , because I’m not quite sure what it is describing. ?

    Can you spell it out for someone is really dance, I guess?


    • Good questions, thanks so much for asking! Sorry for the delay-

      In this poem, a woman expresses her thoughts on an issue related to sexism against women. A white male responds with a joke- one that reveals how he feels victimized in today’s dialogue about misogyny, racism, and class, and one that attacks “those who are victimizing him”. He claims that this is only the “bad advocates”- People who are “irrational, overly emotional. Angry black women. Man haters. Girls who will send you to prison if you look at them the wrong way.”

      So in this poem, the oppressed minority expresses something legitimate, and the privileged majority responds by attacking something illegitimate that wasn’t even said/didn’t even occur. This is extremely common, and extremely problematic.

      This poem doesn’t argue that white males are treated perfectly or that their wounds are insignificant, but it does look at the problematic nature of the male’s reaction above and further paints the conversation. So the man dismisses, ignores, mocks…

      The woman feels ashamed and rebuked for her thoughts, her expression of them, and her anger over the described injustice. “Smiles- Takes it back, Makes up for it. Pleases. Proves that she is one of the good ones. Be’s in on the joke. Understands. Has compassion.”

      The man sees the weariness in the smile, so Assures her that he was joking, Places his hand on her for his own sake as though things are alright between them… Rather than apologizing and making things alright between them.

      Woman obeys and “be’s pacified”, Smiles, “never needed pacifying”, but can’t remove the growing, knowing annoyance from her expression.

      This poem is one picture of the uncomfortable tangle of distress, and shame and hoops people go through to keep priveledged offenders comfortable, to not “Take up space”, and to not be written off by them as “bad”… to not be seen as how they are, because how they are is supposedly bad- And WHY they do it.
      It’s often only after women get out of these situations and untangle themselves from the shame that they’re able to see that they didn’t do anything wrong and they feel free to just be angry at what happened. It’s like women smiling and trying to subtly disentangle themselves from getting publicly groped without causing a scene, or revealing that it’s happening, or hurting a man’s feelings.

      I’d ask you to read the poem again after reading this, because the poem may not have worked for you without this explanation, but I don’t think this explanation works without the poem. 😉

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the questions!

      Liked by 2 people

      • White fragility. And some male privilege. Thank you for the explanation.

        I think I didn’t get that from the poem because I didn’t get any sense of that race or ethnicity was a factor. I got a sense that this was about a man and a woman and the man was white and that white men are generally myopic and inconsiderate of things, unfortunately.

        I am somewhat familiar with racial equity and the issues involved in whiteness. And such.

        Yeah I keep going back and re-reading it and all I get from it is that it definitely is a white guy talking to a girl of some sort and so my interpretation of the poem is that he’s being a typical insensitive white guy. And that the girl is just going with it even though she can sense his nativity, insensitivity, inauthenticity general ignorance, all that stuff that goes with being a white guy in many cases. Lol

        Is there another part of the poem ? Is this poem like part of a series of poems? That I would’ve gotten more fuller context from?

        Are you black? I’m not really sure that my reading of the poem would’ve changed if I knew you were a black woman. I think I would’ve just thought that it was more an all too often exchange of some man saying something, a woman saying some thing that reports upon his ignorance, The white man trying to cover his tracks or back track and telling the girl that she’s not like these other women that he was referring to or something like that.

        I like the poem I think it’s cool, but I think I was not fully grasping the intention or the scene because of some missing cues. Which may be part of my self honestly😄


        Liked by 1 person

      • Your confusion makes sense… Race isn’t really a factor except in so far as the male’s sense of victimhood in general stems partially from his race. The conflict in their conversation is solely about sexism as a concept rather than general male-female clashes or about racism.

        The cues for you are vague- The fact that the poem is titled, “With the Victimized, White, Upper Middle Class Male” is meant to show that he has self identified as victimized, and that that is part of the problem. It’s not just a conversation with a male but with a “victimized” male.

        Next, in the first mini poem, you see that she has expressed some thought, and that he has responded with a joke that attacks women who think her same thought ‘differently’. …So basically she has said something of a feminist nature, and he responds by simply attacking “bad feminists” while saying he’s not attacking her or her thought.

        She mentally retorts that perhaps he is ironically doing the same thing he says those other women do- responding irrationally and aggressively out of pain and other feeling. I’ve changed the grammar a bit of the first mini poem to make that a bit more obvious.

        It is from THIS context that one is supposed to gather that this is about sexism/feminism.

        Sometimes people don’t understand a poem for their own reasons, but a lot of the time it’s the author’s fault! It’s always good to know when and why people don’t understand, so I can work on making things clearer if need be!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dense. Not dance.

    The guy is treating you like you’re stupid and you’re going along with it?

    Or are you going along with it because you know that he can’t handle you telling the truth to him?

    So you’re being nice?

    Or are you describing such a woman who doesn’t speak up?

    And I’m not being sarcastic. Seriously I’m not sure what exactly the scene is describing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. … so the guy is acting like a typical privileged white boy and doesn’t even realize that he’s insulting you. ? And you’re being nice to him about it?


  4. Super real, heartbreakingly honest prose. Thank you so much for sharing. It goes without saying, but this shouldn’t be as normal and accepted behavior as it is. As a white-passing male, an empath, and someone with a fuck-ton of on and off again anxiety and trauma I’m working through that is very much linked to how my behavior impacts others, I have witnessed versions of this interaction happen from the outside perspective, and regrettably, somewhat close (but still way too close) to the inside.

    Reading this inspired me to start writing something with a feminist perspective in reference to my own experience. There are times I have felt I can/could never be the ideal ally/show appropriate solidarity, or honestly do anything but be a bystander at times because of my own mental state. And reading this has personally brought up those feelings again. I have witnessed pretty shitty displays of racism or sexism as a bystander, and there have been multiple times where I froze and went out of my body, and wasn’t able to even see what happened with a feminist perspective until much later after the incident.. I once saw a black man being shouted down at an animal adoption clinic, and the white clerk was shouting at the man why he didn’t have “x”, and the man was frozen in shock; the clerk’s tone and volume escalated and he started asking about his id and nearly started screaming. The guy interacting with the clerk didn’t talk for at least 2 minutes while the clerk was just blowing his head off for no good reason, and I forgot I had the ability to move or speak. What actually happened didn’t sink in until months after…

    In any sense, I do want to validate you and this piece of writing specifically, not just rant about my own struggles to be an ally. I want to make another comment about the constitution of the poem itself; I’ll do that later tomorrow…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I love this. Thank you. I’ll respond more later- I’ve somewhere to be soon- and I look forward to your responding more later as well! 😉 I’m also so glad the poem was moving for you- You never know for sure whether your poem is going to be lost on people or not! Thanks for letting me know!


      • You are welcome! 🙂 I think I jumped the gun! I think this week is a better estimate for talking more about your poem than today, been trying to be on the computer a little less which is good!


  5. Accurate insight expressed within a poetic framework of powerful images: “My lips form a smile,
    like a dog playing dead.” Brings back memories that haunt me quietly from the back of my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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