Real Men Don’t Pay for Women

I’m always humbled and privileged to get to participate in the process of songwriting with young women reflecting on their life stories. I bear witness to their stories of struggle and oppression, while also hearing and hoping to highlight what they give value to, what beliefs they hold and what their hopes and dreams are — many of which are resilient responses to the oppressive events that have happened and sometimes seem to shadow their lives. The goal would be that all of these truths find space to speak within the context of the song or songs we write together!

I recently completed another group at Amirah, with women who have been commercially exploited. I would describe our process as very human and healing with both the heavy and light elements! There were moments where they wanted to give me a run for my money, but as I responded with authenticity and dignity, our relationships grew, and I believe the women really came to value the group. This was evident in their participation, authenticity and humor!

One of the things I appreciate is showing up early and getting to have casual conversation before the group. The women might be showing me pictures of their puppy or chatting up the possibility of going to Six Flags! Sometimes they’ve had hard mornings filled with trying to get paperwork wherever it might need to go, and harder afternoons missing their children. All is present and really gives me a chance to get to know them and the complexities of their living, and understand what might be coming into group a little better.

A moment that stood out to me early on as setting the tone for what we would write about was when one of the women wrote a line to contribute to the first verse, which was, “sitting naked in the shower, washing away what you brought upon me.” She hesitated and looked at me with doubt as to whether or not I’d write it. I reminded the room that anything really is welcome and valued as I wrote the line on the board. I felt a shift in the room as other women started sharing similar experiences.

It seemed like an ah-huh moment when the women could take me at my word, and when they started to connect around shared experiences. What started as a line with hesitation, and even laughing to mask the seriousness a bit, paved the way for more openness and conversation around the stories that felt important to include in the song.

It’s a gift to know these women more wholly and even more so to participate in their goal of telling their story and building community with their peers at the house! I always learn so much more than I can put to words and feel it’s a deep honor to journey with them.

The Iguana Music Fund funded this group! Much gratitude and thanks goes to the Club Passim community. To support future work at Amirah, donate to The SONG Project directly here! (The SONG Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of The SONG Project must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.)

Following are the lyrics to their song; click here to listen to a recording!

Real Men Don’t Pay for Women

I remember what’s it’s like to be in that trap, the feelings coming back
Sitting naked in the shower, washing away what you brought upon me
I’m not sure if I can trust you because of what I’ve been through, I feel so ugly inside
I was praying to God that you, you’ll never come back

What kind of man would sell a girl for a profit
Taking my soul and putting it right in his pocket
When will they grow up
They need some self-love
Real men don’t pay for women

When am I gonna wake up from this nightmare, does anyone care
So ashamed of my past, I’ve got to move on, Will this feeling ever pass
I pray for the day I don’t feel stuck, I sold my soul, can I ever get it back
Why do I feel so alone, I just want to go home

What kind of man would sell a girl for a profit
Taking my soul and putting it right in his pocket
When will they grow up
They need some self-love
Real men don’t pay for women

Is God here for me
Can he hear my cry
I feel so dead inside but I’m still alive
Someone rip my price tag off
Reach out and take my hand
Please help me break free from my pimp’s demands
Cause what I am is not who I am
I know there’s wisdom in your plans
Please God grant me a second chance
It’s all in your hands

What kind of man would sell a girl for a profit
Taking my soul and putting it right in his pocket
When will they grow up
They need some self-love
Real men don’t pay for women

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