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The Pit

by knox daley

“Be the boy and protect me from the scary men.”

This is what my friend yelled into my ear at the metal concert, moving
me into position between herself and the moshpit – sweaty men slamming
into anyone and everyone, violently asserting their space in the
world. They smashed into everyone's personal space: into mine, and
into hers.

I stood firm like a thick tree in a gale as the men, exuberant with
their own privilege, nearly knocked me over again and again. My duty
was to fully absorb these blows to spare her from them. It was my
honor, not because of "being the boy" but because I relished
protecting her. Because being a woman in this world subjects one to
violence. Because there have been times when I couldn’t protect her,
and it breaks my heart.

I stared straight ahead at the band. It was impossible to enjoy them
in these circumstances. My eyes glassed over as my right side and
shoulder were pummeled, my feet stepped on. I tried to firm my core as
much as possible so that I did not so much as waver. And soon every
time a sweaty man hurdled toward me I curled my lip and jabbed an
elbow into his side or kicked his shin, surprised by my own violence.
I was not playing, like they were. I was fighting. I was disgusted by
them. I was disgusted that in order for my friend to be able to watch
this band I had to fight for her. Everyone knows that the front of the
stage is reserved for the aggressive men, for those willing to
withstand the pit. I used to be 16; I used to spend plenty of time in
the pit, often the only female-bodied person but not caring, still as
aggressively high spirited as the rest of the boys, happy to slam into
my friends at a punk house basement show in my hometown. But those
days are over. I am an adult. I have been beaten and bruised too much,
my body violated too many times; it’s no longer play to me. I am now
fighting everyone who has ever entered my space or entered her space
without consent. I am fighting just to stand here. I am fighting for
her so that she can take a break from fighting for herself.

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