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The Exhibition (Entry 5)

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Painting: Roped Off by Pauline Ross

A piece I wrote regarding the UK study that found 97% percent of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, with 70% experiencing such behavior across all ages. 97%.

Woman is art.

I don't believe this is true. Because an 8x8 gets more respect than I ever got from you.

There's a rope around the masterpiece that leaves a shield of space

From wandering hands and treading marks that cannot be erased.

You admire it with respect, you note its textured lines

You marvel at its beauty, both ambiguous and defined

You may even say aloud that its a magnificent display,

But then you turn on your heal, and you simply walk away.

You pass another piece of art,

it's roped off just the same,

but security looks the other way

and you show no restraint

"You put it on display for my viewing pleasure,

I love it so, and it can't so no, so I'll touch it at my leisure.

Maybe you should have covered up the more scandalous brushstrokes;

I did A, B, and C, so why can't I take it home?"

You leave finger prints all over

Staining oils, chafing paint,

you tear it down from off the wall

You ignore all known complaints

And although you get to walk away without a consequence,

The hollowed painting on the wall is the one who must repent

For being on display, being beautiful, breathing air

For believing, despite the downcast eyes, that somebody would care.

The paint drips onto the floorboards

like tear from sunken eyes

The rope in a pile, the brushstrokes defiled, the artist's hands are tied.

The painting can say nothing-

no one would hear it anyway

Yes, she is still herself complete,

but she will never be the same.

And the onlookers continue on their way,

Do not know who they should blame

Do they blame the painting on the wall,

or the one that walked away?


Woman is not art. Despite what you may have thought.

Because art is protected.

-and woman is not.

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