I’ll peel off my clothes
protest with you
cup my breasts
let the collar bone stand out
defy defy defy
the skeleton inside
the skeletons outside
it’s my body, I will say
and sell it
for money
for a cause
for dissent
for someone to notice I am a woman
equal to man

where is the phallus between my thighs?
does any man show it off to
defy defy defy
is this not another shackle
where flesh has eyes
and skin is veil?
god too gave a fig leaf
god’s men want to bind
you throw the gagging raiments away
your breasts and belly look us in the eye
I can see you whole
the man you want to be equal to won't
he sees your skin
imagines the trickle
gliding over it
I’ll peel off my clothes
if you convince me
that the man watching
will not blow smoke rings in my face
or spit out curses
or look through the microscope
for warts, for unshaved hair
tell me
if I need to grow a stubble to be equal
to the man fiddling with his zipper
that I will be woman even when I wear something
a little heavier than my nakedness

when I lie down on the sand
touch my feathery self
I feel equal to the sky
what is there to defy?


© Farzana Versey

The poem is my response to 'My body, my choice': Exiled Iranian women pose nude for video in protest against sexual oppression in their native country. The video hopes to boost sales of the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar in homage to an Egyptian activist who was vilified in the Middle East for publishing a naked photo of herself.


  1. QUOTE: "I feel equal to the sky
    what is there to defy?"

    Simply astounding!!

    Very well written, FV. Sincerely!

    Doffing my saffron bandana to you (if such a thing can be done!). You deserve a 21-Trishul salute!

  2. "when I lie down on the sand
    touch my feathery self
    I feel equal to the sky
    what is there to defy?"

    Brilliant. Makes the whole poem.

    While reading it I thought you were talking about PETA and I was reminded of this tweet by someone called Fearless Fred "I think it's great how PETA chooses to exploit women rather than animals. Clearly women are of less value than dogs"

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  4. How poignantly far you have gone with words to portray a thing badly stuck to our skin!! After reading this I think I knew much better,more closer ,the Farzana I adore.

  5. FV

    For the benefit of Mr abhishake sharma, who does not know the difference between wildebeest and wilder beast ... a list of women philosophers. Including Maitreyi of India.

    I presume he will go down to hell with history, hand in hand, fiddling with his zipper??


    Women Philosophers Index A - B

    Aesara of Lucania , Aganice , Akka Mahadevi, Ambapali , Anna Brackett , Anna Doyle Wheeler , Anna Maria Van Schurman , Anne Finch , Arete of Cyrene ,Asnat Barzani (Asenath Barzani) Aspasia of Miletus, Axiothea of Philesia
    Ban Zhao , Bathsua Makin, Beatrice of Nazareth, Belle van Zuylen, Bruriah

    C - D

    Cassandra Fedele , Catharine Macaulay , Catharine of Alexandria , Catharine Trotter Cockburn , Christine Pisan , Cleaobulina of Rhodes, Damaris Cudowrth Masham, Damo , Dhouda of Gascony , Diotima of Mantinea
    E - F

    Early-Pythagoreans, Elena Cassandra Trabotti, Elizabeth Cary Cabot Agazziz , , Elizabeth of Bohemia, Ellen Mitchell , Emma Goldman, Emilie du Chatelet , EnHedu'Anna,
    Women Philosophers Index: G - H

    Gabrielle Suchon , Gargi , Gertrude the Great , Grace C Bibb, Hadewijch of Brabat , Hannah Arendt , Harriet Martineau , Helene von Druskowitz, Helena Maria Druschkovich , Helena Lucretia Cornaro Piscopia, Helfta-Monastery, Herrad of Hoehenbourg , Hild of Streonshalh , Hilda of Whitby , Hildergard of Bingen , Hipparchia , Hortense de Meritens , Hroswitha of Gandersheim, Hypatia of Alexandria

    I - J

    Iris Murdoch , Isotta Nogarola, Jenny Poinsard d'Hericourt, Juidth Sargetn Murray , Julia Domna , Julian of Norwich , Julie Velten Favre
    K - O

    Kristina Wasa , Laura Bassi , Laura Cereta , Lasthenia of Mantinea , Lopamudar , Lorenza Strozzi
    Macrina, the Elder , Macrina, the Younger , Maitreyi of India , Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Maria Zambrano, Marcella , Margaret Cavendish , Marie-le-Jars-de-Gournay, Marietta Kies , Mary Astell , Mary Fairfax Somerville . Mary Wollstonecreaft , Mechtild of Magdeburgh , Melissa , Murasaki Shikibu of Japan ,

    Oliva Sabuco , Olympe de Goudges

    Women Philosophers Index P - S

    Pan Chou , Perictione I,Perictine II Phintys of Sparta, Pythagorean women (early) , Raili Kauppi, Romasa , Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Weil , Sophia , Sosipatra of Ephesus , Stefania Wolicka (information needed), Susan Blow , Susanne Langer ,

    T - Z

    Theano , Themistoclea , Veronica Gambara, Yeshe Tsogyal, Zirkala-Sa

  6. FV,

    The poem is beautiful.


  7. >>what women have done in the history of humans.

    gave birth to it? i don't have any scientific proof of it or anything but chances are high that woman was involved ...

    >> if this is how the nature is, why in the world do you fight it.

    funny in episode i watched, the female devoured the male after copulating ... oh well ... can't win 'em all ...

  8. FV
    You are simply great! You are a gifted poetess ! This poem is an ideal example of how well a writer can balance the thin line between vulgarity and sensitivity!

  9. F&F:

    Thank you...poetry is p-sec!


    Thank you, but PETA? Can't see any such thing.

    For the animal stuff here:



    Kind of you. Isn't there a thick line between vulgarity and sensitivity? I see it as a balance between the physical rawness and emotional vulnerability.

  10. Abhishek:

    This is not about "naked women" and the so-called win-win situation. Go beyond that a bit...


    Thank you, and thank you for the list. I suppose the naked truth is rarely visible.

    PS: There is a slot open for 'F':)


    Always good to know that one's work connects so tangibly. Much appreciate your words.


    In many animal species women are the hunters. As for devouring after mating, one of them is the 'praying mantis'. Some worship!

  11. FV,

    Ah, yes! I notice the open slot for "F"!

    Could Meriam's PETA reference allude to Leda and the Swan?

    A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
    Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
    By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
    He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

    How can those terrified vague fingers push
    The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
    And how can body, laid in that white rush,
    But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

    A shudder in the loins engenders there
    The broken wall, the burning roof and tower[20]
    And Agamemnon dead.

    Being so caught up,

    So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
    Did she put on his knowledge with his power
    Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


  12. TE:

    It could, and perhaps not...the beauty of Yeats cannot be caged...

    I'd take this - your quoting the poem and what I wrote - further with:

    "Till I could hear their hearts beating:
    One is a harlot, and one a child
    That never looked upon man with desire,
    And one, it may be, a queen." (Yeats)


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