Women Should

March 29, 2022

Women should be seen not heard

Only when spoken to they should utter a word

Women should be able to carry a child

When a man approaches them they should smile

But don’t smile too much

Women should not lead men on

When sitting down, women’s legs should be closed

Their legs should be crossed and their backs should be composed

Women should be wearing a skirt

But not too short

Women should not flirt

Women should be skilful in all sorts of ways

They should play the piano and cook a roast on Sundays

Women should read not watch

But not too much

Women should not be smarter than men

Women should be intelligent and clever

But don’t speak of business or politics whatsoever

Women should not be leaders or start a revolution

Because women are the tools

Not the solution

Women should be able to clean and cook

Women should hide their feelings and not be an open book

Women should go to school and be educated

So they are ready for a life being domesticated

Women should be wives

Women are not the backbone of civilization

Women are just for inspiration

Women are a utilization for temptation

Women are just for decoration

Women are nothing but an inclination to procrastination

Before the realisation of the generation

Women are sarcastic


Yasmin Simsek

Yasmin Simsek performs "Women Should”. Photo provided by the author.

Artist’s Statement

"Women Should” is a deeply sarcastic poem, written to be performed, so imagine its rhythm on a stage. It plays on a lot of outdated stereotypes on women’s roles in the home and in society, with some inspiration drawn from my obsession with Downton Abbey (well, mainly Maggie Smith in anything). It also shines a light on the unreasonable expectations society has of women to be both this and that, but never too much of either. I wrote the first draft of this poem during a poetry for performance class with Benjamin Zephaniah in London, England, and have developed it since starting my MA in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at SFU. I wanted it to have a sort of snappy rhythm and to hopefully be grossly misunderstood till the very last line. I wanted to savour the audience’s stare as I was reciting what women should do, in my ’Nasty Woman’ t-shirt, and I wanted to wallow in their laughter at the ‘ahh she almost had me’ discovery at the end. This poem is supposed to encourage anyone identifying as a woman to be whomever they want to be, behave however they want to behave and start unlearning what we have been taught to think. Don’t be sexy because someone wants you to be sexy. Be sexy because you want to be sexy. It’s hard to know the difference in this day and age, because we have been programmed to think society’s thoughts are our own opinions. I am working everyday to unlearn these things in my own mind, and I am trying to be gentle with people who have only just started unlearning them.