I’m scared of you. Why wouldn’t I be?

If you aren’t a girl, you won’t know what I mean

Being a woman means watching for the wolves in your fairytale

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My inbox is a dark place

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived where the bonfire smoke clouded the village church in October. She rode her purple bicycle up and down the hills until her palms were raw with cold, and then she’d return to her sisters for hot chocolate and scolding.

Beware of men who offer to give you a ride back to the house

Beware of men who offer to give you a ride

Beware of men who offer to give

Beware of men

And the little girl would nod and stare out the window at the men who could be monsters.

On Monday, she’d go to school, gloves on each poster-painted hand, hair tight in bunches so it stung her scalp. And the teacher in tortoiseshell glasses would cough in hushed tones to the good Catholic schoolgirls that they should not talk to the men who told them that they were so pretty, their dresses were so sweet, their uniforms so charming

And the little girl would nod and stare at the man giving the blood of Christ to good girls whose parents weren’t infidels and thanked God she was going to hell instead. Because although he never did bad things she never trusted the look in his eye when he said how pretty the communion daughters looked

But there is only so much watching the grown ups can do, and when the little girl turned ten, she met the monsters. Or rather, the cubs of monsters. Boys will be boys, when they pin you to the playground wall to kiss you, boys will be boys, when they grope you outside H4, boys will be boys when they ask you what cup size you are and ask your woodwork teacher whether he thinks you are pretty and whether he’d fuck you

But beware of men who wait for you at the school gates! Warned the teachers who looked the other way when the girl was groped, harassed, sexually humiliated or molested. Because boys will be boys. But men can be men, or monsters.

But by now, at fourteen, the girl had learnt how to woman.

The men who followed, the men who shouted, the men who touched, the men who messaged, the men who threatened, the men who forced, the men who demanded, the men who made you sit under the shower in silence and shame at the loss of your space and body

Learn to be scared. Learn to be suspicious. Learn to be careful. Learn to separate, detach, isolate, protect. Lock yourself up in your tower with your mobile phone on speed dial. Tell your friend when you meet the woodcutter in the woods. When a wolf follows you home, run, run, run. At midnight, run home with your army of mice to the safety of your prison. Don’t trust the red apples or the gifts of ribbons. Learn to inhabit the organs he can’t touch when he parts your thighs. Let your prince defend you from the dragons and beasts, but be sensible and give up your humanity for safety. Give up your freedom for responsibility. Give up your trust and love of your brothers for fair suspicion. Be afraid. Live life over your shoulder at the monster who follows you.

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Which of these is dangerous

Go offline, leave the dark dark woods and the lonely mountains. What lurks there will kill you. Go back to your turret or kitchen and wait in silence, away from the trolls and the touching hands. Stitch up your mouth from your expression and exploration, lest your singing attracts the hunger of a wolf. Stay indoors. Switch off. Live life through your window, your tinted car windows, your veil, your fear.

Because men can be monsters.

Why challenge the plot?

Written by

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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