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On Not Needing A Lecture

"I'm not asking for your mercy. Just give me the 20. I don't need a lecture," 31-year-old Zachary Gross said.—“Kentucky man who scalped ex-girlfriend tells judge: 'I don't need a lecture.’” Fox News, March 19, 2017.


My student refuses to attend the keynote on masculinity:
He doesn’t need a lecture. He already knows everything about it.
He’s a man, after all.


And though we should not think of teaching as

peeling back the lids of heads—

instead perform the patient push and pull: dialogue, reflection—


how tempting still the scalpel.


Elizabeth Johnson is an associate professor of English at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, where she teaches writing, literature, and gender studies courses. She wrote this poem after overhearing a student complaining about going to a lecture by Jackson Katz on masculinity. Her poetry and prose appear widely, most recently in The Atlantic, Feminist Formations, New Verse News, and the 2017 collection Bad Girls and Transgressive Women in Popular Television, Fiction, and Film. To read more of her poetry and other publications, please visit her website at

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