“In case you haven’t realized, it’s somehow become necessary for old white men to tell me how to speak.”
That's how Melissa Lozada-Oliva begins her powerful spoken word poem "Like Totally Whatever" that she performed at the 2015 National Poetry Slam earlier this month. Lozada-Oliva details the subtle sexism engrained in the critiques of how women speak.
“They like put my parentheticals, my ‘likes’ and ‘ums’ and ‘you knows,’ on a wait list," she tells the crowd.
Lozada-Oliva vehemently defends the way women talk, calling out the "white man’s sentences" that women are told to mimic in order to be taken seriously. “It’s like maybe I am always speaking in questions, ‘cause I’m so used to being cut off," she says. “It's like maybe this is defense mechanism. Maybe everything girls do is evolution of defense mechanism.”
She refers to the way women talk as "protection," telling the crowd, "Our ‘likes’ are our knee pads. Our ‘ums’ are the knives we tuck into our boots at night. Our ‘you knows’ are the best friends we call when we’re walking down a dark alley."
We are totally, like, on board with you Melissa.
Also on HuffPost: