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The women’s bathroom

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This short story depicts a descriptive glimpse into an encounter between a young woman and her mother as they bore the intrusion of hidden cameras, and the implications that such an event has on topics like the male gaze and womanhood broadly.

Poetry / Other
Age Rating:

the womens bathroom

the women's bathroom

once my mother and I

stopped by a gas station to use the bathroom,

but somewhere in the wafts of air that emerged from the glass doors

and the hum of the refrigerators

mom got a bad vibe

we anxiously hurry past the longing eyes of two male cashiers

the consuming amber glow of vanity light spills through the cracks

of the bathroom door as she opens it

the hinges squeal in desperation as we hurry in

in our efforts to escape the threat of whatever it is that mom felt

and we cram ourselves into the closet-sized women's restroom

our eyes pan the perimeters of the neglected space

and we're met with one vacant soap dispenser,

wads of white paper blanketing the sticky tile,

and the carvings of teen initials and obscenities that make you lose your faith in humanity at once

holding her index to my lips,

mom locates the light switch

and flicks it off

the weight of silence and blackness fill the room

the four walls feel as if they're plotting to swallow me

she whispers in my ear

to search for red or green light peaking through the walls

what, why mom?

please just look

what is going on mom?

just look for hidden cameras, okay? I'll explain later.


not only do we feel observed

in our journeys through adolescence

and our emergence into puberty

bearing the weight of the desperate eyes

that surround our changing bodies

but we also feel it in womanhood

in our transition from student to employee

from single to married

or from wife to mother

we feel the longing gaze of victimizers

who plant ploys

like those of hidden cameras in women's bathrooms

as they seek to gain access

to moments that we are most vulnerable

and gain access

to the moments we locate asylum

where we can closet our social anxieties

or powder our noses

where we foolishly perceived

was our only safe space

to lock the handle

and escape the grip

of the male gaze

it seems to ooze beneath the door

and overtake us

even there

in our "safe" space

the women's bathroom

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