My First Time

It happened today, for the first time.

On the train,

First carriage.

I don’t know when he arrived,

I didn’t even notice him until halfway through the ride.

It wasn’t until he asked me if my homework was art,

From across the aisle and three rows down,

That I realised he was watching me.

Suddenly my world changed.

My life became centred

Around getting him to stop staring at me.

I turned away, willing him to stop,

But in the reflection I could still see him,

Head tilted,

Eyes trained on the back of my head.

He must have been 70,

I am 17.

I desperately wondered,

What did he want with me?

Why did he choose me to stare at, to terrify, to violate?

I did nothing to him,

Except perhaps give him a faint smile when he boarded.

Of course, that’s the problem.

I have fallen victim to the terrible circumstance

Of misunderstood politeness.

Never smile,

I understand now.

Never smile, or they’ll think you’re flirting.

It could be taken the wrong way,

It could be seen as an invitation.

Because god forbid I exercise basic human decency without expecting to pay for it.

That's what society tells me,

That I shouldn't smile at someone for fear that it sends the wrong message.

That if he objectifies me, it's my own fault.

That I, as a young woman independently going about my own life, am here in this world for the entertainment and pleasure of adult men.

I never understood how terrible this message could be,

Until it was me worrying that I had done something wrong,

Me self consciously checking my reflection to see if I looked too “appealing,”

Me wondering if I had been asking for it.

Women should not be told that they are here for someone else’s pleasure.

How common it has become for a woman to be taken advantage of.

I have the right to my own body, my own comfort, my own being, and it is not yours, or a man’s on a train, or anyone else’s right to take that away from me.

Do not objectify me. I will no longer stand for it.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
Our world

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