Posted as part of the Blank Noise Blog-a-thon
The point of a blog-a-thon, of course, is not what you say, but that you say it. Just as the point of running in a marathon (for must of us, at least) is not to set a new World Record, but simply to put on a T-shirt for your chosen cause, slip into the sneakers you bought six months ago (as part of a New Year's resolution) and have never worn, and just have a go at it.
So theoretically, I could say pretty much anything in this post. I could quote Shakespeare "I will be angry: what hast thou to do? / Father, be quiet, he shall stay my leisure". I could find some obscurely apt poem and quote that. I could wax eloquent about socio-cultural conditions and the embeddedness of sexual harassment in patriarchal institutions. I could come up with my own two-bit analysis on how the problem could be 'solved', ignoring, with my usual blitheness, my complete lack of factual information.
Thinking about it, though, I can't shake the feeling that anything meaningful I tried to say on the topic would be mere impostor. Never having experienced street harassment first-hand, or having studied it in any way (academics, of course, are not governed by the rule of knowing what they're talking about), it's hard to think of a piece I could write for this blog-a-thon that couldn't be written better by others, and wouldn't therefore, constitute a presumption.
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to try to be analytical or insightful. I'm going to fall back on my old safeguard - poetry. I'm going to break (for the third time in some 300+ posts) my self-imposed rule on not posting poems on this blog, and post one written for the blog-a-thon. It's the best I can do.
Boys will be boys
“Boys will be boys”, you shrug and say,
“You should have said no and not allowed it.”
No. I’m sorry. It’s not okay.
“Next time, come to me. I’ll find a way.
I’m strong, I can help you out. It’s
Just boys being boys. That’s all”, you say.
“It’s not like they hurt you anyway.
Now the neighbours will have to hear about it –
You know, you know that’s not okay”.
“It’s your own fault for being on display,
The sway of your hips, your breasts, your pout. It
Makes the boys want to be boys”, you say.
“They didn’t mean you any harm.” Didn’t they?
The anger rises to my mouth. It
Says: No. No. It’s not okay.
If someone gets hurt it isn’t play.
It isn’t fun if someone cries out, it
Isn’t ‘boys being boys’, as you always say.
Oh, I’m sure you’d rather that I stay
At home; that you make the rule and I don’t flout it.
But no, I’m sorry, that’s not okay.
I’ll not be quiet till it goes away
I’m going to scream it, I’m going to shout it.
Let your boys say what they want to say.
I’ll not put this off for some other day
We fix this now – no two ways about it.
No, I’m sorry, it’s not okay.
And it’s not up to you what I may or may
Not do. You’ve got your view and you’re free to spout it.
“Boys will be boys”. I will have my say.
If they’re boys they must be taught to obey;
If they’re men they can learn to do without it.
No, I’m sorry, it’s not okay.
It’s time we made these perverts pay.
It’s time we did something about it.
‘Boys will be boys’ is all you can say.
How about asking if I’m okay.
Action Hero Falstaff