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Man Explains Why He Will Never Let His Sons Play With Dolls In Moving Poem

Photo: Tomsickova Tatyana / Shutterstock 
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TW: The following article mentions sexual assault and rape. 

A father, Demetri Manabat, raised eyebrows from concerned audience members after he began reciting a poem he wrote that stated he would never allow his sons to play with dolls. 

Just when it seemed as if he would be booed off stage, the man’s poem took an unexpected turn that had the audience applauding him by the end. 

Manabat said that he would never allow his sons to play with dolls because he didn't want them to think women were just toys to be played with. 

Manabat, a poet and writer, recently took the stage at Kev Love’s Music Hall and Events to read one of his latest works, a poem titled “Barbie.” He shared his performance in a TikTok video that has since garnered over 10 million views.

Manabat's poem opened with the startling statement that he would never allow his sons to play with dolls. 

   

   

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“That’s not what men do,” he said. “Men are supposed to be leaders, protectors, providers. How do I expect him to be the head of a home when he’s steady tending to a house made of plastic?” 

Manabat added if he ever caught his sons playing with a Barbie, a Bratz, a Polly Pocket, or a Cabbage Patch doll, he would set them straight. “That is not how God intended for us to act … I refuse to let my sons play with dolls!” 

There was a long silent pause as the audience let Manabat’s words sink in (most likely plotting to throw him off stage). 

Man Explains Why He Will Never Let His Sons Play With Dolls In Poem Photo: MNstudio / Canva Pro

Manabat eventually broke the excruciating silence with a profound line: “Because I don’t want them learning what it’s like to have ownership over a woman’s body.”

He went on to share that women “are born with strings on their back” and that “if you pull hard enough, they’ll act how you want them to act wear what you want them to wear, talk the talk and walk the walk straight into a box that was never designed to hold the sound of a woman’s voice let alone her stretch marks tattooed across her skin as a result of reaching so far across the universe she reached heaven and earth.” 

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“Yet there are still men who view women as more mistake than they do miracle,” he recited. “Who spit sexist slurs through their teeth like refund receipts for all the clothes he will never allow her to wear because she’s showing too much skin, because that outfit is asking for it, because all she wants is attention.” 

Manabat touched on sensitive issues that were inspired by personal experience.

Manabat's poem delved into sensitive issues of assault, rape, and abortion, and his knowledge all stemmed from experience. His friend was a product of rape. 

“I ask how she’s coping with that today. If she now has to look her mother in the eyes and wonder if she’s able to see the blessing before she sees the trauma or does she sit silent in sorrow whenever that train of thought crosses those battered borders in her brain?” he shared. 

“My mother tells me that she was 25 when she got her first doll,” he said. “But that her first memory as a child was being beat by her father.” 

Man Explains Why He Will Never Let His Sons Play With Dolls In Poem Photo: FotoHelin / Canva Pro

“And it hurts to know that like so many other girls my mother had to live her childhood backward, being treated like a woman well before she was one yet never taken seriously long after she became one.” 

Manabat said his words were not meant to be a political message but rather an apology to women and all they have had to endure. 

An apology for every time he turned a blind eye to a woman just trying to be seen. 

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“For if God were to set foot on this great Earth, let it be a stiletto or a pump, a wedge, a knee-high, a thigh-high or whatever the [expletive] she wants to wear because she is not a toy, she’s a woman,” he recited. 

“My boys will not make toys out of women, so I refuse to let my sons play with dolls until they actually understand the difference between the two.” 

Manabat’s poem had many people feeling overwhelmed with emotion. 

“I was not ready for the tears this brought. My grandmother was the product of rape. She was a miserable person, and all that trauma followed her and she took it out on my mother later on every day,” one social media user shared. “Thank you for being a voice for us. Every woman I know has been sexually assaulted in some way. All of them.” 

“Sobbing, thank you for speaking for us, this is every woman you know. EVERY Woman has dealt with some form of assault: verbal, physical, sexual, now we have to deal with our basic rights being taken away too. We need more men like you on our side,” another user commented.  

According to the CDC, over half of women have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lives. One out of every six women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 

   

   

To all the men who stand in solidarity with us and use their platforms and art to spread awareness of violence against women, thank you. We see you and commend your support. 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, harassment or violence, you are not alone. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7 at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at RAINN.org.

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.