Batter Up

Intensity grips the bat-
grit interwoven with anxiety

Nothing less than a home run
wins approval in this boy’s game

The lone girl, I am aflame
with rage of inequality

(Took a coveted bat and
tight fist to get me here)

Dig my feet in and stare down
the pitcher, ready to ignite the field.

(Image my own)

Corporate Inequality

Wore green shoes –
a shock of colour
to highlight business –
attire aimed to succeed.

Walked ten blocks
rode fourteen floors
passed security,
heels continually clicking.

Navigating male-dominated
passages, I was driven
ignored patronizing comments
exercised for corporate ladder

But the lies, the betrayal,
the dirty little secrets,
they taunted me –
sold me out in back rooms

Broke under pressure
vile accusations, improper
propositions – How did
gender equate with progress

How did firmness of pert
breasts, the flash of muscled
calves, exempt me from rising –
Why should my efforts fall short

By refusals to drop my panties
and who could I go to –
boss and boss’s boss
all male, in on the plots

Big business banking –
financially fruitful
personally demoralizing –
I walked away, morals intact.

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge:featured image.   Sexual harassment was rampant during the 70’s and 80’s.   Although we have known progress, the struggle for equality continues.)

Displaced in Patriarchy

Long since
dawn’s early
observation,
have witnessed
patriarchy’s
inequalities

first hand
second hand

lack a solution,
short of vengeance –
perpetrate rather
than end the cycle
of crime –

no place
to call home.

(Image from personal collection.)

 

Day 235 “Conflict Resolution”

“It’s not rape if the girl is a prostitute, is it?”  one of my students asked me recently.

“It is without consent,”  I answered sternly, but the question left me unsettled.  As a high school teacher, I am immersed in the attitudes of the young, and it is worrisome.

The prevalence of sexual assault and the reluctance to report these crimes is a conflict that currently plagues Canadian society, and one that hits me at my core.  When I was abducted and assaulted in the early 1970’s, the police informed me that reporting it would be futile, as “I had asked for it”given what I was wearing that night, so, I let it drop, and have been haunted ever since.  The authorities knew all about the man who’d done this to me, and maybe the girls after me weren’t lucky enough to escape with their lives.  Every woman who doesn’t tell carries that burden of guilt.

“I was told that it was my fault,”  my mother told me referring to the multiple times she was assaulted by male relatives starting at the age of six.  “Boys will be boys,”  her mother told her.

I had thought that our society had progressed, but apparently that is not true.  In a recent court case, the victim – who had awaken in the night with her assailant on top of her – was dragged through three days on the witness stand, and questioned about all of her lifestyle habits, even though there was DNA evidence clearly convicting the accused.  “She asked for it” remains to be a viable legal argument.

Yes, there are cases in which men are wrongly accused – it happened to someone I know.  The “victim” came forward to confess her lies just prior to the trial, but when told she would be charged with contempt, she backed down sticking with her initial story.

The countless arguments that have appeared in the media recently look to our legal system as the culprit of this ongoing imbalance of justice.  Yet, as a woman and a schoolteacher, I cannot help but feel that there is a larger problem here not being addressed.

I think of my student’s question.   He asked it in all honesty, and was surprised by my response.  This is a young man that associates with the criminal element; his role models are drug dealers and gang members.  Having grown up in a household where domestic violence was the norm, he is conflicted about male/female relations.  He is not alone.

When I taught in a rural school, many of the families had “shacks” on their farms, which the children converted for their own purposes.  The parties they hosted included under-age drinking and a disturbing number of sexual activities.  A female student (grade 10) reported to me that there was a stripper pole installed in one of the cabins.  Visions of music videos flashed through my mind.  Were these children emulating their celebrity idols?

Another student of mine, female, was recently assaulted at one of these parties.  Her assailant grabbed her by the hair and forced her into a sex act.  She was hesitant to report the incident for fear of backlash from her peers.  Suicide seemed a better option.  Fortunately, she was not successful, but she continues to be tormented.

“If you were male, and he used physical force on you, that would be assault and there would be no question of a charge,”  I tried to reason with her.  So why do gender differences cloud the issue?

I do not know the answer to this conflict, but I do believe that we all have an obligation to find a solution.  Educators, parents, law enforcers, and the media all play a part in how we view issues relating to sexuality.  Someone needs to counter the messages of inequality with a reverence for human rights and humanity itself.

Personal responsibility and accountability should never be overshadowed by “She asked for it” bullshit!