Part 1 of 13 – 13 Ways of Looking at Being Female-Bodied
By Grace Cuddihy
Discussed: sexual harassment
I sat in Port with my legs curled up on the floor, leaning up against my bunk bed. Peeling teal paint stuck to patches of the floor. Some of the girls in my cabin were leaning over the sides of their bunk beds, and some were spread over the floor. On the other side of the cabin a pretty, smart redhead curled up against the wall. She was older than us and had more experience. We clung on to her every word. She told us about a time that she had experienced sexual harassment.
“It’s terrifying,” I said. “Especially if they get increasingly agitated with you because you aren’t acknowledging them or whatever.” Even in an all-girls environment, the memory of that fear was enough to make me hold my legs for protection.
“Yeah, it’s very scary,” she said. “But it’s very important that all of you girls listen to me. Whenever a guy comes at you in the street, or you feel as though they are following you, you cannot show them that you are afraid. It is important that you don’t give any signs of being scared, or even increase your pace, because that is enticing for them. Don’t ever run. Prey runs.”
Originally inspired by Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” this piece was meant to compile various aspects of the experiences I have lived through as a person with a female body. Part one is one of the first moments that I thought of when brainstorming, because it has had such an impact on my life overall.
Grace Cuddihy is a writer, an activist, foster dog parent, baking enthusiast, and high school junior. She loves writing personal essays and writes frequently about her experience living with chronic illness. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Survivor and phone banking. Grace’s favorite book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower and her favorite book series is Percy Jackson: Heroes of Olympus. Her favorite authors are James Baldwin and Toni Morrison.