A 2014 YouGov poll found that 72% of the public believes it is never appropriate to catcall. Yet it was found by a group of researchers (from iHollaback and Cornell University) that 84% of women have been catcalled by the time they reach age 17.

Themes:

Sexual Harassment, Objectification of Women, Degrading Women

The inspiration of text:

“What is Street Harassment?”

Rationale:

This poem is a pastiche of the literary piece “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy. It shows the transition of a young girl’s body becoming an object of lust and sexual desire to older men and how experiencing this change affects the speaker’s perception of men. A technique used frequently in this poem is line enjambment in order to create emphasis in certain places. These enjambments also create a more organized manner of communication to the reader. Another technique that is often used in Duffy’s writing is symbolism which is strategically implemented in places to represent a bigger concept. For example in this poem, in line 4–5, the speaker is alluding to the idea that her body is not only anatomical anymore, rather it also represents femininity and is an object of lust for men now that she has grown into a young woman which is why she has unfortunately experienced sexual harassment at a young age. A technique notably used is repetition which can be seen in lines 1, 12, and 23. The idea that is trying to be reinforced is that the speaker’s body as a young girl was her own, but now that she is older it has changed, which is why now she is degraded, objectified, and harassed. Overall this female persona seeks to address the normalization of behavior that shouldn’t be excused, rather should be condemned.

Illustration by Aidan Koch (http://aidankoch.com/)

What was once mine became yours

What was once mine became yours.

Stained with lewd thoughts.

I have come to fear these bare legs.

This delicate body

is no longer only bones.

This flesh,

a place I can not escape.

I no longer feel safe here.

In the reflection I see a stranger

I continue to meet over and over again.

I try to understand, but I know so little of desire.

What is yours now was once mine.

A stolen state of safety.

I wish I could go home after school

and not forget to breathe.

I have learned to stay silent

and have now forgotten how to speak.

Spoiled.

Your lust has already tinted

the perception of my worth.

Take it.

All that is left of me, for the truth is

it was never mine to begin with.

The crevices of my mind