A black and white photo of an unmade bed with white pillows and sheets crumpled up.

An Encounter

Knowledge and wisdom passed through woman to woman from generation to generation is an armour we may be unaware of — but it’s there. Waiting. For the right encounter. To straighten our backs and fill our hair with fire and our words with strength.

It no longer surprises me when I have a discussion with a man, and he turns to personal insults because I’ve dared to prove him wrong. When a fragile ego gets exposed, it often lashes out to inflict the same wounds it feels it has suffered. I’m certain we all experience a little pang of negativity when we’re corrected about something we believe we know a lot about, but the ability to absorb something new without it crumpling our existence shouldn’t be unusual. 

This poem was inspired by a brief social media interaction where I highlighted that Sir Tim Berners-Lee was the inventor of the World Wide Web; a provable fact that one man decided was wrong because he knew better. When he scrutinized his own assumptions and found himself to be mistaken; he decided to flood my timeline with personal insults about my body, my looks, my hair and my age; he decided I was a millennial — I’m not. A simple, enthusiastic, cordial discussion about an English computer scientist was hijacked by a man who went nuclear just because he was incorrect.

Poem by Molly from Transatlantic Notes called ’An Encounter’: “When you outmatch them on an intellectual level, your body is the place they will try to wage war. A war they hope you will fight with yourself; by them nestling an insult in your skin. But little do they know of the knowledge you carry, from your mothers a thousand lines deep. A line so armoured in wisdom, it restores who you are in your sleep."

The only reason I can determine as to why he waged an insult war against me was to detract from his own embarrassment about the rejection of his perceived superiority. He could have said, “Hey, I never realized this. I’ll have to read up about it.” I also believe that as he devoted the best part of an evening calling me a slut, fat, ugly, stupid, useless, unloved; he was particularly perturbed by a woman knowing more than he did on this subject.

He hoped I would be hurt and silenced by his sexist, misogynistic, enraged bullying — I wasn’t. I answered every hate-filled comment he uttered (I had time that day) by pointing out that turning to insults showed he possessed no factual leg to stand on. He eventually gave up — and I went on with my night; sleeping soundly.

Further Info:

Online Hate And Harassment: The American Experience 2021 – ADL

Standford-Educated Software Engineer Develops App To Combat Online Abuse – NPR

This is part of my poetry collection, if you share my work on social media, please do not edit it, remove my name or forget to give credit (tag my Instagram and/or link back to this post or my Poetry Page). If you wish to use my poetry in any other way, please contact me for permission. Thank you.

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