Down with the girls, the clique rolls booming.
We're consummate gigglers, pigtails roped together before
Our mums yell the dinnertime warning.
We'll untangle the big knot later, or snip it off entirely.
I like the second option; curls unsheath on the bathroom floor.
I take the scissors myself.
I come out boyish, grand and grinning. I flex my shoulders,
revelling in the new force i answer to; that of wilful, indifferent,
unbridled joy. My graceful, cautious locks lie peaceful on the bathmat.
They never answer back, they're always clean and neat and tidy and quiet.
They get good grades and sit with their skirts below their knees.
As instructed when there are men in the house.
I shall play on their behalf until they come back.
down with the girls, we hide from the patriarchy in the
downstairs loo; we don't even know what it is yet, but we know it's out there.
It's the slowest sleep of all, and it's playtime for now.
my brother plays outside after dinner; we look the same now, yet only I am
called to help clean up, my haloed androgyny dimmed slightly by
the mantle of girlhood.
the feeling comes back years later when I am thirteen, much stronger this time, and I learn to balance
my brittle, pre-teen self-esteem with the demands of my schoolwork and
unwanted attention from grown men on the bus ride home.
I grow my hair long, to draw about my shoulders and cover my chest like a veil.
Down with the girls, we read our lives in the third person.
We buckle down and get on with it, trying to ignore the fact that
We're under constant surveillance. Boys learn about the male gaze in
my English class as an 'academic concept'.
We've been living in it for centuries.