Badly Behaved Women

CW: Themes of sexual assault and violence

Around 20 women were executed as witches

On the North Inch in Perth

The park I run laps around, the place where I take my dog, the way home from the pub

They say well-behaved women rarely make history

As a way to say I should be bold and fearless

Take no shit

Keep fighting, keep the anger flowing, keep spitting lava, don’t give up

But what they don’t add is that badly behaved women

Are suffocated

With unbridled judgement and the threat of violence

And that being badly behaved comes in the simplest of ways

We don’t get to have our revolutions because

Our energy is spent on worrying as we

Walk home late or go running in a dark park

The North Inch isn’t lit the whole way round

No wonder we have hot girl summer

It’s not the heat of the sunshine it’s the light of it all

I can run, skip, hop and jump round that park

At any hour of the day

And not be “badly behaved”

Just remember not to start tracking your Strava run from your house

Just remember to cover up no matter how sweltering the sublime sun is

Just remember not to run alone

Just remember to not say no

And to clearly say no

I remember, at fourteen,

My mum told me how

That week her friend was pushed into her car

And raped

In the Asda car park next to my high school

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon

Just remember not to do your shopping alone either

Female MPs receive additional training

To deal with the additional fucking torrent of terrorisation

The bullying and intimidations

On their social media

Just remember not to speak your mind

I walk past two wee shops on my way home from town

The Courier headlines bold behind the latticed frames

In the seven years I’ve lived here

There’s been at least as many headlines stating

Woman, aged whatever, raped in Perth park

Is it wrong of me to want them to not be displayed in such a way?

Walks home punctuated by those headlines are the most anxious-ridden of all

Stabs of despairing empathy for them

Pinpricks in every pore, fear for me that a friend or I might be next

We only have two choices

Be badly behaved, take risks, live, but be unsafe

Or stay quiet and make the right choices and live, but still be unsafe

It might seem pathetic that I stop running in the winter

There’s no light before or after work

And I am not bold nor fearless enough

My volcano has dried up, lies dormant

I don’t have the energy or strength left

To be even a little bit badly behaved

Watch this performed live, accompanying an emotional pole performance from Nicole Tait, here:

Image courtesy of Johannes Roth

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