bathroomstallgirls | a poem

I grew up around boys and men

who knew exactly what they expected and wanted

from my body

without having any knowledge of it at all

I grew up around girls and women

learning and internalising

e v e r y t h i n g

about men’s wants and needs in magazines,

studying them like bibles

against their own bodies


you waited for the wounds you inflicted

to kick in, to become visible, turn sour,

so that you could gorge on them,

stare at them in your museum

but you became enraged

when I didn’t put my body

into the victimmould you built

to restrict it, define it, keep it

under your incessant gaze


boys always had so much to say about our bodies

whilst women drowned in shameful silence and compliance


I thought of boys my age as cruel

and I knew that men would not say no

to a girl like me

I’ve been taught well


fathers raised their daughters

to be devoured by father figures


fathers look at me

teachers look at me

I see their thoughts in my mind

and I look back

my father’s mouth

looks at my friends

everything hangs by a thread


I was taught that your fantasy was my fantasy

everything beyond that scared you to death, didn’t it


that my imagination could be out of your control


men had put their images in my head

and boys wouldn’t dare look at me


I didn’t stay alone

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on

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