This being human is heavy tonight
and I am thinking of the gym sauna,
cedar hot against my skin
aching from the distance I made it run,
but still now in the dry heat
almost frozen still in fact,
as the man in his fifties chats,
learns what my parents do,
starts explaining how fucked up things are
with the EU, Single Farm Payments,
why pay for British when we could have it cheaper
and all the world will open up once Brexit is done.
He wears his smile like a victory.
then tells me he has won this debate
proud to have converted a farmer’s daughter
to his way of seeing things.
My only two sentences crumbling
beneath ‘Well of course we’d be better off
if the government let agriculture simply die”,
and I am trying not to do the same.
Mute in my panic
trying not to shrink beneath him.
Fixed somewhere I do not want to be
but cannot leave without fleeing,
and the others here are so silent,
careful to keep their eyes averted
from whatever it is they can hear.
So I wait him out with compliance,
with my lack of argument or voice,
and when he leaves,
I catch a look for another guy,
hear his comment:
‘well that was weird’
and tell myself
it is done now
if anyone asks, it was nothing.
There are a lot of discussion going on at the moment about the dangers faced by women on a day to day basis, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the situations I’ve found myself in at various points in my life. I’m twenty-seven, and not even including the time I was physically assaulted by a group of boys when I was in secondary school, I’ve actually lost count of the number of “minor” incidents where I’ve been touched without permission, intimidated, talked down to, or felt threatened. Almost every time I go out walking on my own I preform a sort of mini risk assessment in my head, and the idea that my daughter, the child I’m carrying in my belly, may ever feel that level of anxiety, terrifies me. I agree that it’s not all men, but the fear is that you don’t know which person means you harm, so you find yourself viewing everyone as a potential threat, and it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting that women have had to fight to get ‘up-skirting’ made illegal, that currently there is no legislation to fight back again ‘deep-fakes’ when they are used to create explicit content with someone’s face, without their permission.
There are over 600 poems on this site. Most of them don’t touch on those personal experiences because like Marina Hyde discusses in her column about harassment, I’ve grown up minimising those incidents into ‘nothing’. Tonight I’m using the DVerse prompt to address the balance and address the personal. This isn’t something I can shrink from any longer.