When Chocolate’s Not Enough

With three women sharing this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their part in fighting for women’s rights, I thought I’d share my very first piece of published writing with you – and very apt it seems, too.

It’s a poem I wrote for the anthology ‘When Chocolate’s not Enough’ (2001) edited by Heather Killingray and although it now feels a little naive, not only does its message still resonate with many women today, it’s the very piece of writing that gave me the confidence to finally follow my dream of becoming a full time, professional writer.

So here goes…

I AM
A poem by Suzie Tullett 

Where does it say that little girls have to wear dresses
And produce sickly smiles?
Why can’t girls play in the mud and climb trees?
I don’t understand, because I know I could if you’d let me
I can’t believe you’re telling me off for telling you what I think
I am able to think, you know 

Where does it say that young girls have to be slim and follow the latest fashion?
Be in love with the latest heart throb?
I don’t understand why I can’t play football instead of netball
Because I know I could if you’d let me
I can’t believe you’re telling me off for wearing boots instead of shoes
And why shouldn’t girls have their hair cut short?
I am an individual you know 

Where does it say that wives have to be quiet?
And look after their husband, want children and then stay at home?
I don’t understand why I can’t have money, friends or have any life at all
Because I know I could if you’d let me
I can’t believe you’re telling me off for wanting a job
It is only part time
I am ambitious, you know 

Where does it say that mothers have to breast feed
Enjoy the responsibility and deny their sexuality?
I don’t understand why I can’t have time to myself to do the simplest of things
Because I know I could if you’d let me.
I can’t believe your telling me off for not washing your sports kit and making dinner on time
I am human you know 

Where does it say that Grandmothers have to bake cakes
Knit jumpers and blue rinse their hair?
I don’t understand why being old means you can’t join in,
Have fun, have sex
Because I know I could if you’d let me
I can’t believe you’re telling me off for wanting to live
I am alive you know

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4 responses to “When Chocolate’s Not Enough

  1. Hi Suzie, Thoroughly enjoyed your poem because it echoes what I have felt for so many years. Not quite a 'bra burner' but I do believe that the tasks that are expected to be done by women alone, can be done just as well by men – society has to change the outlook and share the tasks evenly. Then perhaps we will have less greed, less wars, less violence. It's worth a try. xxxx

  2. Suzie–I understand the phrase, I would, if you'd let me. I'm quite a bit older than you, and that's exactly how I felt until I reached 40. Somehow, that decade changed me. I no longer said…I would if you'd let me…since I'd heard it for four decades. So I changed it to–I want to, so I will, and even though you might not like it, I will.It's called liberation! Excellent little poem…thank you. Celia

  3. You're welcome, Celia. I think 'liberation' is the key word for many women – be it setting ourselves free of an internal or external struggle x

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