Available Options

If it had been clear
there were no options
but to conform: to be
sexually available and
compliant. Obliging, at
the expense of my sanity,
well-being, career.

If I had realised that
I had to act docile. Girl
treated as child; woman
disguised as girl. Hours
spent every day, preparing
the body for display, my
mind for instruction.

If I had guessed that
education would query
suitability and acceptance.
That speaking would be
seen as aberrant behaviour.
Unruly and rebellious.

If I had known there
was a name for what I
would face as a woman
seeking liberty to be herself.
That misogyny would aim
to rule out my possibilities.

If, as a girl, I had faced the
daily onslaught of sex and
violence, packaged as culture,
news, while sisters succumbed,
disappeared behind closed doors.
Were deleted from the streets.

How would I have shaped up
for battle and survival?

Would I have caved in, stripped off,
strutted my stuff to get noticed?

Acted ‘sexy’.

How could I have assumed
I would have rights and opportunities?

Desires of my own.

That, as a woman, I might be equal
before the law. Allowed at times, to
roam as free as any élite man.

If I had been trained to be fearful,
while awaiting male approval;
forced to be as dainty and quiet
as possible: respecting the status quo.

If I had been taught that my value
was proscribed as sexual and
procreative. A double fetish. That
these limits would circumscribe life
and feeling. Render my body and
its movements targets for profit,
exploitation, surveillance.

How could I have aspired to be a
person, as well as daughter?
Human as well as woman.
Citizen as well as mother.

How could I have asked my first question?
And, without flinching, looked you in the eye.

For an answering music.


val walsh / 2007