If You Liked It Then You Should Have Given Me A Bit Of Space

If You Liked It Then You Should Have Given Me A Bit Of Space

I like spreading my legs.

I like spreading my legs in a star shape,

a cross in the centre of the bed marking it as mine,

no more nights of someone’s snoring and being pushed to one side.

I built this bed with two hands and a dollop of pride

because the instructions said I’d need four

but anything’s possible after a glass of wine

and no one tells a stubborn feminist what to do so I was going to at least try

and what else was I meant to do with my Friday night?

Newly single in a new city and asked out by the removal guy that moved me here

like going to Pizza Hut and then watching him watch football and drink beer

wasn’t enough fun in my life.

I think the added spice came from his use of the word ‘babe’

and the blonde-haired “nephew” in his photo library

(and with hindsight his likely blonde-haired wife)

but at some point we all need the lesson

of a sleazy van driver from Preston

and his eloquent command of language

for the way he described my ‘smashing capacity’

really squirted that orgasm right out of me

as I scream out how blessed I feel to be free.

I had so much to learn at 23.

Moving on swiftly,

now the new bed has been put to the test

but those squeaking springs can’t drown out the words he needs to get off his chest

as he asks me a question, mid-grunt, in the middle of having sex,

nor how my clear response was oddly heard as a yes

when the next day it’s followed by a Facebook relationship request

as I do my best to spend the next three months politely bullshitting my way out of the impending doom

of spending any more nights in his parents’ box room

whilst a 30 year old man plays C.O.D in his marvel pyjamas

and with a tearful hangover tells me he’ll stop drinking soon,

he just needs to move out and buy a house

and it leaves me to wonder if he’d have more chance of achieving his life plans

if he tried waking up before noon?

I don’t mean to sound rude

but all I’ve done to this point is get with guys who have the self awareness of a teaspoon

so no wonder we don’t make it to that ‘honeymoon’ phase,

you’ll be lucky if I see you past the first date

the way you complain all night about the job which you hate

and then tell me it’s never for a lady to pay for her share of the food.

Well no offence mate but I probably earn more money than you

and the way you’re anxiously drowning in WooWoo cocktails

I’d guess I’m better at managing it too.

And what makes you think I’d want to go on holiday with you?

I agree that’s a great deal to fly to Morocco but we’ve only met twice

and although you seem nice

you’re a bit overbearing

and I just don’t think we’d make the best pairing

and when you drunkenly tell me you can’t wait to bend me over

I think I’d rather take the risk jumping off the cliffs down at Dover

than go home with you.

I hear your sober apology and understand that you’re stressed

but that’s got nothing to do with it

and has what you said

ever succeeded in getting a woman into bed?

Now don’t get me wrong, long term relationships can be beautiful

but not with you because that unsolicited dick pic really wasn’t suitable

even if you did reference a hummus meme.

Yes I know I said I like sweet chilli flavour but I really didn’t mean…that.

I think I might just be better off getting a cat,

at least they don’t invite themselves round for a sleepover at my flat

and feign surprise when I ask why they’ve brought an overnight bag,

or stalk my Instagram back to last summer

to tell me that my legs in those yoga shorts are a ‘fucking catch’

because yes that’s creepy

and no, surprisingly, I don’t think we’re a match.

And is it too much to ask that I get a night to myself?

No it doesn’t mean I don’t like you,

it means that sometimes my space is paramount to my mental health

and the notion of being around anyone 24/7 is my idea of hell.

I’m not about to settle down

with your list of expectations that I’m better off without.

You know I watched my mum trapped in a marriage with three children and no power to get out,

so forgive me for having doubts

that being a wife and mother is for me,

in fact I can tell you it isn’t with absolute certainty.

I’m not spending my life doing school runs and changing nappies and cooking the tea

so if you want that type of relationship then it’s best we just leave it here,

you’ve got your boxes to tick and I simply refuse to be her,

and I think some people just want those things because they have a fear of being alone.

I might decide to build a life with someone but it’s my heart that will always be my home

because I built this bed with two hands and a dollop of pride because the instructions said I’d need four

but anything is possible.

Mercury 13

Mercury 13

Everywhere I look, women are shrinking,

it’s prolific in our postures in pictures

as if the perceived size of our hips,

lips, thighs or tits

is the potion of female liberation

like possession of the perfectly plucked or painted eyebrow

somehow proves we don’t need feminism now

because we can also wear trousers

and we sometimes get pockets

but we can’t enjoy these clothes,

they’re constrictive, and society is addicted

to our size,

so we’ll be made to feel shit in them anyway

whatever the scales say,

but go for what’s comfortable

and then we’re criticised for coming as ourselves

and not in the smart tight shirt, pencil skirt and stilettos

that showcase our skills to meet this job spec

better than a man can.

So, sorry, I stand corrected,

women can take up space

when they’re not perceived as a threat

but just a pretty face,

throw on some lace underwear

and men can stare at our chests

for a page in print.

I’ve took the hint,

breasts are there for aesthetics

and men can do what they like to them

but we’re shunned for using them

to dare feed our children

in a public place,

seems some men support our free the nipple campaign

only as long as they get a taste

and womenspreading is just seen

as when a woman spreads her legs,

it’s still about men filling our holes

and not about us reclaiming control

of our space and our bodies

for all the times it’s been taken away.

When my space was invaded through an act of rape

I thought I could never again exist in this body and feel safe,

danger lurked in every touch

in any place

on any date

and at first I’d just smile and put on a brave face

because I had no clue what to do with all this rage

and statistics convinced me

that fighting back increased the chance

my life would be left in the hands of a man

like with domestic violence

a woman is most at risk when she leaves

and in taking back her space

and having the opportunity to be free

she could end up six foot under the ground,

so tell me again that we don’t need feminism now?

See you might think that we don’t

because I’ve got the ability to speak

but outside of this poem

sometimes this voice is weak

and it’s quiet, and it’s sorry for taking up your time

and I doubt anyone would want to hear these experiences of mine

and I think I don’t deserve the lights

and the stage and a mic,

I’m still at war with myself and every day is a fight

to create my own space, in a room of my own,

I want to join the grrrls at the front

and get out my comfort zone

taking action, and not just writing poems at home.

I want to see more women in politics and on panel shows

and on bookshelves and in stand up and as CEOs

and as leads in films that pass the Bechdel test

and on the front line and going to press

and in magazines for our talent, not whether we looked good in a dress,

and on our own at nightclubs

because our ass won’t get grabbed

by some creep passing by

who tells us to smile when we just want to cry.

Instead the world will give us our slice of the pie

and the more calories the better

because this stands for our rights,

and we’ll show up for ourselves,

tell stories, create music, make art,

in honour of the women before us who couldn’t

and for those women amongst us who still can’t.

Man Up

Man Up

I have worked with women

who love their men

even

as his hands grip her throat

and he gloats,

whilst watching her choke,

over how she takes him back

by the time he counts to ten.

I have seen the courage of women

who leave their men

alone

with pregnant belly and two children

in a land of words foreign,

she prays I answer my phone

and find her a safe home

where he’ll never touch them again.

I have felt the pain of women

caused by a system

that didn’t lock up their men;

he only raped her yesterday

and she tells me she’s okay

but the tears spilling down her cheeks

give her fear away

as a lack of evidence gave him his freedom.

Here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men.

All convinced that they knew them,

so now don’t all go thinking

that it could never happen

or you’d never let yourself

be in that situation

because we’re all in motion

on a spectrum

of tolerance and bystander inaction,

and to think

that those who get bruised

are any different

than you is fiction.

Being a victim

is not an addiction,

but a symptom

of the macho masculinity affliction

that sees violence

as an ever acceptable reaction,

or that too much testosterone

is the real problem

whilst breeding the notion

that this is the natural order of things

instead of asking the questions,

why do some men hurt women?

and why is violence such a deeply gendered phenomenon?

and why are these instead not defined

as gender crimes?

Worded as ‘women’s issues’ and ‘violence against women’

whilst men’s part in the process

is the invisible omission,

like there could be another explanation

to gender relations

and we just aren’t keeping up with the times.

So here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men,

and if you think

that you’re a good one of them,

then what are you doing

to be part of the solution?

Herland

Herland

Once upon a time

in a faraway land

there lived a group of females

who, together, would stand

in collective strength and solidarity

no sister an enemy

no need for competition or jealousy

for there existed no man.

They all dressed for comfort

hats without silly feathers

for their appearance was their own

not to please any others.

Owned by none, kept their names

treated all creatures the same

leaving all animals unchained

one with all Nature, as Mothers.

Through the guidance

of the elders

all cared

for their younger

no role in the home

as a female full grown

had a life of her own

and she was slave to no master.

Known for their brains

and not for their bodies

neither waited upon

nor offers to carry

the gifts bought to impress

to maintain ultra-femaleness

in return for sex under duress

or an expectation to marry.

Life was more simple

when the only duty they had

was to love themselves most

and each other as much as they can

and at close of day

to God they would pray

in trust and good faith

as their God was a Woman.

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories

Hush my child

don’t say a word

the world

isn’t in the habit

of believing in little girls.

Power is made for giants

but females go on diets

a metaphor

for being taught

less is more,

selling matchsticks

when they should be starting riots.

Cut to Cinderella

waiting for her cakes to rise,

she’s baked her rage

into something more ladylike.

It’s like

the fucking air’s been spiked

and the woman outspoken

is the evil witch queen never welcome

who always threatens the fun.

Breed silence;

so when.

she grows up.

she can’t.

use her tongue.

to form a sentence.

so she’ll make believe her own fairytale

and go down for life.

It’s all about becoming a suitable wife,

those burning their eyes

with their mirror mirror on the wall

won’t have the energy to fight.

Do you remember

when you first started

giving a fuck?

Do you remember

when you stopped?

Born with unlimited choices

but molded to mediocre,

she begged for legs

in exchange for the whole sea,

she was pretty

till she spoke

to the stranger

and then the Big Bad Wolf ate her.

Lesson learnt;

should have played dead

and don’t say what’s in your head.

Hesitate

and anger festers.

They say beauty comes

from a woman well rested,

fuck your beauty standards,

performance abandoned.

So hush my child

don’t say a word

be like your favourite princess,

Sleeping Beauty is the perfect girl.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

This is the last time

you will curse me

with your words,

break my spirit

till I cannot lift

myself up from the dirt.

This is the last time

you hand me

all your pain,

so heavy I sit on

and take the hit from

the shards of your grenade.

This is the last time

your grip

constricts my voice,

lungs without air

my words rot in there

since you took away my choice.

This was the last time

you tried to convince me

of your lies

that I should feel shame,

so I’ve poured petrol and doused us in flames

because men burn

but witches survive.