Look – A poem for Summer

Look

Image result for men staring woman walking by street

I found this image in an article about why men stare at women and how it’s totally justified and the caption under it was “peaceful single girl” but she doesn’t look peaceful to me, she looks worried and like she really doesn’t want to be stared at so, y’know, case in point.

Here comes the Summer sun.

And with it the looks, the stares, not to mention the hi fives (directed at my arse),

The ever tiresome catcalls, so frequent they

Blend into the background of cars and buses and

Street harassment noise.

The layers removed to head turns and whistles

As jumpers come off and men come on

To women who just want to walk to work.

The gazes are returned with eye rolls or hair flicks or

Tiny tensing shoulder shrugs.

And yet it doesn’t put you off.

Look, I can’t stop you.

And I’m not looking at you…that is

Until I feel your eyes on me and suddenly my arms want to close my shirt

And wrap my scarf tighter around my neck to hide my breasts,

My lips curl in a sneer and my eyes narrow in disgust,

My legs move a little faster as my entire body viscerally reacts to your entitled gaze.

I’m wearing a top and leggings and-

A baggy t-shirt or 

A dress

Jeans and shoes

Make up.

No makeup. 

It shouldn’t matter what I’m wearing.

It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing.

The reaction is always the same.

You don’t have my permission to make me feel undressed

When I am fully clothed in the street.

And yet…

I know some women like it or don’t mind it or don’t say anything even if they hate it.

I know some women want to feel like they’ve still got it, that it’s a compliment, appreciation,

As if they’ve aged so much that they’ve stopped being human

And instead become a piece of meat,

As if self esteem is measured in whistles or length of stares.

As if value and worth depreciate, inversely proportional with age.

But I don’t get dressed in the morning for you.

I don’t show more skin in the summer so you can see it.

I don’t imagine how you’ll react to my body or the clothing around it when I walk down the road

Because I don’t care what you think or want from the women, the strangers who walk past you in the street.

My life, my body, my decisions

Are not about you.

Because I don’t know you. I owe you nothing. You are entitled to nothing of me. And yet you act so entirely entitled.

Look, I can’t stop you looking.

But I would if I could.

If I knew a magic clothing formula to stop you staring I’d probably wear it every day.

Even while I know it shouldn’t be on me – the responsibility to clothe myself “responsibly”, responsively.

I don’t want the attention and no, it’s not arrogance on my part.

I’m attractive, sure but I don’t believe

I’m so beautiful or special.

I just have arms and a

Neck

Breasts

Lips

Eyes

Legs.

I’m a woman. And it is Summer.

Catcalls aren't compliments, they're offensive, and this cartoon explains it beautifully

Image credit: Robot Hugs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *