Labour

I had entered my PhD self funded with a professional, practical knowledge that I would complete in 3-4 years and get back to work. When 3 years passed I felt nowhere closer and, in fact, I had lost my steadfast professionalism, work ethic and confidence, I had to ask how well I was actually navigating this sexualised experience. There was no one aha! horrible moment that had done this – it was a slow, grinding down through nuanced experiences. The soft touches of my waist in a pub, the comments on my clothing, the stares, speaking too close to me with boozey breathe, the favours given and taken away based on my acceptance or rejection of socialising. The rejection becoming more and more frequent while the acceptance more rare (but just enough to have me at his whim). It was also the emotional labour of supporting others who had more overt experiences (or what I thought of as worse experiences) whether consensual relationships or ‘stolen’ kisses. I was a shoulder to lean on and support them. They were my reminder of how badly it goes if I do not keep my guard up. In the end I was in serious financial debt and couldn’t see how making a complaint would get me any closer to finishing and getting back to work, in fact it made it seem even further away.

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