About my personal experience with sexual harassment and disappearance into myself, caused by widely spread social phenomena like objectification and hyper sexualisation. I believe these feelings to be shared by many other women, who might struggle to identify the source of these feelings of emptiness (as do I).

One of the loudest voices surrounding this topic was that of Norma Jean’s, otherwise known as Marilyn Monroe. The character of Marilyn overtook Norma, drowning her within herself. At 36 years old, she died, losing her lifelong fight against the invisible contender that I write about here.

Like wolves in the night, they chase you; and against you they use their words. They hide behind any stone/comer/thicket, and in their hiding, it’s you that they look for. Like wolves in the night, they howl darkly, and their darkly-sung songs are sung for me. Words of darkened objects and images they seem to paint for me. With their mouths of silver and entitlement they sing.

How did we get here, amor?

How is it that you see my body dismembered, pieces thrown in hundreds of impossible directions, and you do not feel horror? How is it that you grin? How is it that you are an expectant spectator of this disappearance of identity, of this terrible spectacle? This terrible spectacle of hands and masks and ants that climb up my thighs/ my thighs they climb. Thousands of them I can feel climbing, and they multiply incessantly, like disease.

It feels like an invasion of that which is my own; it feels like a foreign defeat.

It feels like an omniscient gaze that with false sweetness sticks to you with sticky hands and darkly habituates you to its touch. It feels like a thick veil around the intellectual and an immersion in the filth. Everything is full of mud. I can’t stand the pungent smell of these constant corpses; it rises up my nose infesting my thoughts and brings closeness to winter. I find it unbearable to acclimatise to them; any concession being made feels like an eye ripped out of its socket.

Darkened hands go down my body, and I feel their ghost in the new touch. Other men touch me now/ they seem like good men. I do not know/ I cannot know. Other/new hands stroll by my skin, softly resting, and I see them gently searching for me. I look at them with these brown eyes of mine, becoming then the observant subject. And I see golden hands seeking mine, which instantly vanish in the ancient air. I feel ly emptiness after. An empty vessel filled with breeze I find myself to be. I feel you blowing inside me. cielo mío, and I can hear the cacophony of the wind hitting against the dry clay.

The emptiness enlarges and heals every hour/minute/week.

It rips open with every/any mention or remark around the subject of my lips/hi breasts/waist. I feel the disappearance of my knees and elbows and creaky joints. I notice it in relation to every part of my body, that ceases to be mine as soon as your gaze catches/traps it. My body ceases to be a functional subject and I am an observed decorative/beautiful/horrifying object Look at me, hideous and alone in the crowd, look at my dirty hair and my faded clothes. Look at my pale ears and my bloody gaze; look at me whole.

Make me the object of your gaze.

Then one day/slowly/all of a sudden, I discover that my body is not mine. I discover that my thoughts are consumed by an alien entity (which is your omniscient gaze) and that my daily life is based upon a sense of slavish complacency. That this text I write, I write for you to read. That I do not participate in objects for their own sake; that my purpose is not poetry. I realise it by speaking and by being quiet, by laughing restrainedly or savagely. By knowing myself to be the Other, paly attentive to the inescapable reflection whose eyes are always fixed on mine, (and who is this blonde/brunette/dead-eyed woman chasing me?)

I wake up in the mornings to a devious feeling; I am a quiet child, sitting in a doorway. I am watching gigantic men pass me by, who look at me in turn. These men/wolves look at me. They look at me and I can hear them howl behind every corner/nook/chimney.

Like beasts in the night they howl, and they darkly sing their songs for me.

Sofia Danailov Esteban


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