FREE VERSE: Don’t Fucking Touch Me

Being a starving aspiring writer and artist means that being a car owner is simply no longer an option for me. I recently traded the comforts of having a dependable Volvo for a bike and a bus pass, and all of the vulnerability that came along with them.

Adapting to a car-less life was easy in many regards. I could see the benefit in getting more exercise, having fewer transportation expenses, and seeing a different side of the city. The part that I’ve had difficulty adapting to, however, was something I didn’t anticipate: the fact that I am now infinitely more exposed to men.

What makes a man think it’s OK to whistle or honk at a woman walking down the street alone or that making clucking noises with his mouth out his car window at a girl is acceptable?

These gestures are far from comforting; they’re intrusive.

Experiencing these unwarranted interactions that my car had previously shielded me from made me angry. So, of course, I made a playlist to cope with this anger, and, obviously, that playlist consists largely of the work of Tori Amos.

Amos shares my anger for mindlessly intrusive men. “I wanna smash the faces/Of those beautiful boys/Those Christian boys./So you can make me come/That doesn’t make you Jesus,” she bellows in her song “Precious Things.”

Like Ms. Amos, I too want to smash the faces of the man who rubbed my back on the lightrail in what I expect was an attempt to comfort me for whatever reason, or the one who told me to smile, or the one who yelled at me out of his car as I was biking to class this morning.

These gestures are far from comforting; they’re intrusive. Women don’t need or want to be comforted by strange men. We want to be left the alone by them.

I’m not exactly sure how to cope with these interactions without anger. So, until I figure out how to be a more zen feminist, I’ll be the girl frowning on the light rail, pepper spray close at hand, and Tori Amos in my headphones. Don’t fucking touch me.

—Mariah Taylor

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