It’s Getting Hot in Here

When we decided that this month’s theme at Clitbait should be heat, I wanted to write a love letter to the sun. I wanted to write about how nourished I feel by its warmth. My world comes alive when it is illuminated and dripping in sunlight.

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The Pleasure Gap

A couple of months ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw the same post come up again and again on people’s stories. Repeated posts are not unusual, but there was something about this one that deeply chimed with me.

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Keep the Change

Here I am again, I thought. Unanchored, unmoored. 

Another break up and I felt lost. Where before there had been plans, dreams, ideas stretching ahead into the distance– a trip to Berlin, going to that new restaurant together, maybe a move abroad for our respective careers –there now was …nothing. Everything I’d envisioned and hoped for vanished overnight. 

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Sexual Violence in Greek and Roman Mythology

To Ovid’s Metamorphoses and back. ‘I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.’ So starts the Roman poet Ovid’s canonical text about Greek and Roman myth, the Metamorphoses. An epic poem that informs most of what the western world views as ‘classical’ myth, the work is one of many fantastical transformations. It is often considered equally united by the theme of metamorphosing as it is by love. 

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We’re Here Because You Were There – How the British Empire Metamorphosed Power

Amartya Sen recently outlined the structural impacts Britain had on India throughout its longstanding rule, hoping to unpack the illusions of the empire’s legacy through a historical dive into India’s past. As Sen opens with, power is widely agreed to have been established by British forces in 1757 at the Battle of Plassey by defeating Nawab Siraj-ud-Doula’s army and beginning a 200-year rule that ended with Nehru’s famous words in 1947 – ‘At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to light and freedom’. This monumental moment in global history is thought to be the start of a process of decolonisation stretching into the 1980s.

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Metamorphosis: LGBTQ+ Rights in the UK

This year, throughout Pride month, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own journey as a queer teenager, then a non-binary adult, and how I’ve changed throughout my life. As with the metamorphosis we see in nature, my identity and self hasn’t changed – in the way that a butterfly is never not itself, even as a caterpillar.

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A Reflection on Changing Artists and Art

One of the challenges that artists face is the expectation that their work must look a certain way. If they are lucky enough to find fame while they are alive, they are often constrained by the idea that only a certain style will get them money and recognition. As much as a starving artist is romanticised, no one wants to be one. Yet, must that come at the expense of their own creative metamorphosis?

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Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Bloom serendipity in my hands

I’ll pretend it’s uncalled

My hands, worn out. 

Today

I’ll try to sleep before midnight 

Bloom before I wake up

Strike me in the path

where rainbow is a decorum

Spit me to the dimension,

in it, I could see time

accused with duplicity.

Bloom

into the night.

Into the night 

which fail to surge my moan into a gender spectrum

I shall not see trees

painted black again 

nor I wish to see my

breath lessen between my smokes 

Bore me

if in melancholy, into the new space 

before it’s too late.

Bloom serendipity 

before my morning wakes.

Abhishek Arukuti

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Pink Gouache

Pink Gouache

my orgasm is pink gouache,
dipped in water, bursting like a late sunset,
And it’s like fireworks,
the week I bleed,
earthy mud red.

this is a petition, for women,
to make the most of their ‘dirty’ blood days,
drink watermelon
and bleed,
and bleed,
coagulated pleasure,
pink, acidic,
vulgar.

fish, dipped in mustard.
sushi and rose water.

I can almost smell your disgust.
It turns me on.

this is a graph of pleasure,
a week long experiment,
a thesis, perhaps,
or a poem,
of fleeting sensations,
frantically bleeding unto paper,
blood, red,
pink pleasure,
oscillating this week,
between words and the clit.

a religious text for bodily dearth,
a pilgrimage site,
that smells like rust.

Bidisha Mahapatra  
bidishamahapatra.squarespace.com

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The Spectacle of Violence

I recently read that tourists in the US can take ‘sex trafficking bus tours’ to ‘shudder over locations where they’re told sexual violence has recently occurred’ (1). Learning this was not something I was able to take lightly. I carried the words around with me for days, alongside the absolute bafflement they gave rise to. 

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You May Be Okay, but It’s Not Okay

Without thinking, I turned from the main, busy street into a side alley. I was running late to see a friend, and Google Maps showed this route through dark, pot-holed Athens back streets to be the fastest way to get to my destination. I hurried along, frowning down at the map on my phone screen whilst music blared through my headphones. I don’t know when I became aware of his presence. But I remember feeling my stomach drop. You are not safe said my body to my mind.

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What are we having?

This lockdown year it was especially important to find meaning, but looking back, I think I was prone to finding too much.  I have held on too long and too tightly, to people, or ideas, or expectations, and it’s time to let go. 

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I let go of her hand

I let go of her hand 

I let go of her hand when
the men stumble steaming out of the pub.
Her salt fresh, calloused hands
from some sports I don’t
understand,
from warm afternoons under the sea,
the hands that lovingly
rub away my cramps.
I say yes to a threesome
because he won’t leave us alone
and I am weak, bloodshot, drunk,
bleary eyes begging for a taxi.
When they walk over,
I break from her, stumble over words
and she frowns.
It’s all good baby baby
so why am I sick with fear?
Why do they look at us
like slavering wolves
with their slick wet lips?

Millicent Stott

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Quiet Love

Quiet Love

There is anger in
chairs propped against doors,
worries about thin walls,
turning round first to check,
and her dad being
‘not completely okay with it’.
The pit of guilt afterwards that
you keep to yourself,
the strawberry smell of her hair,
catching slow breaths
and then
secret tears over a bible,
resigning yourself to
agony and torture and flames
for the quietest of loves.

Millicent Stott

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We Need to Stop Calling Young Girls Bossy

From a young age, I was always told that I was a bossy person, and I just accepted it and took it as the criticism it was intended to be. Thinking back to when I was labelled bossy, it was when I took charge of a task and put myself in a leadership position in order to do something. This adjective has never been used to describe one of my male friends, but many of my determined female friends.

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Bodily Intrusion: Anger towards the Inner Male Gaze

In an antiquitous world, where social distancing wasn’t yet the de facto theme of interaction, I used to get dressed up to go dancing with my friends. Being a young, privileged, educated woman, with a budding feminism and progressive view of the world, I acted in accordance with my own agenda. With that in mind, there was a hostile undertone. When looking in the mirror, measuring my drinks, dancing in the middle of the dancefloor, I would slowly orientate myself towards someone else’s objective.

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girls don’t burn.

girls don’t burn.

this, is not an apology.
this is not an anthem.
this is cold metal rage.

girls don’t burn.
the bravest girl i know,
caught fire when she was six
and she refused to cry.
she wrapped her tiny body in steel
and learnt to dance along mridangams.

courage deserves accolades
as does endurance.
silence cannot be inheritance-
turn it away from your door.

so, what if-
you are reduced to a kitchen appliance, lowest at maslow’s hierarchy of needs -daal, chawal, roti.
the kitchen, a threat.
the butter knife capable of
puncturing pulmonary veins.
provoking you to,
dance, in pain.
scream, mid dance.
and then scream, in pain.

i want to bake my own bread,
simmer beef in garlic,
eat it by the sea,
with my head in a hole.
i want an ice boxed capri.
i want sweet white wine.
crystal, clear, sharp
on my tongue like an apology.

i want to dance amidst women,
i want topsy turvy mirth,
i want paraphernalia,
i want to move my body along the madness.
i want to be hemingway.
once betrayed in love,
alive amidst septet kittens worth nine lives.

i am a catlady,
i am feline devastating beauty.
i am pied piper drowning men in desire.
i am bertha, i am medusa, i am shikandhi.
i am twenty and delhi drunk in hauzkhas.

i am a house on fire
with its women inside,
i am ritualistic penance
at a dead husband’s pyre.
or, foglight at heaven’s gate,
as women burn and burn and burn.

isn’t there oppression in benevolence?

and i don’t want
front-page empowerment ads,
discounted beauty products,
discourses on power, gender, policymaking.

all i need,
are my girls,
a bar and a bender.
my friends dancing nakedfeet
on table tops on too much tequila,
pouring fire
straight down their throats, sliding across dance floors.

if there is a past,
if there is memory,
if there is grief and it’s recollection – let there be drunk table top dancing and most importantly, laughter.

Adrija Ghosh

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Brown Women Aren’t Quiet

In primary school, a boy once asked me, “Aren’t all brown people quiet?” I had no idea what to say, standing there in my oversized bottle green cardigan and kilt. I was eight years old. I mean, I knew I was quiet, but not because I wanted to be; in a predominantly white area, it was the best way to fit in, to survive the glares and stares I received day on end. At home, I was different. I would speak up about anything I could, and as soon as my friends got to know me, I would tell them stuff too. As I got older, I found my voice: first by writing, then by speaking. By the time I started my undergraduate degree, I had plenty to say.

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the newer, happier me

the newer, happier me

she dresses like a 1950s housewife,
with piercings and a denim jacket.

she rides a bike and drives a Camaro
(yes she’s an amateur mechanic).

she wears her afro high, proud, au naturel;
she smiles a lot, for no reason in particular.

she paints for fun, all the time, and she’s good at it too, 
it’s mostly Malcolm x and Angela Davis but it could really sell.

she buys her clothes at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost.
you could write an indie song/and or film,
where she’s a metaphor for feminism and self-love, or something equally pretentious;
she’s nice but she’s having none of your bullshit. 

she plays bass guitar at weekends, 
and ukelele on Sunday mornings.

she’s beautiful in the truest sense of the word.

she reads, the classics and likes Kerouac unironically.
she wears hipster glasses (ironically). 

she’s as woke as they come, unapologetically black,
      a wrecking ball to your complacency in the face of patriarchal white supremacy.

she bakes and cooks- vegan haute cuisine.

she’s funny, unbearably funny, side-splittingly funny, 
     because she really doesn’t care what you think.

she volunteers to feed the homeless and save the planet. she writes music, poetry, plays, short stories – a literary prodigy.

she goes out, she spends her week-ends gallery surfing then bar hopping, just to drink white wine and talk existential despair. 

centre of attention, but modest nonetheless. 

she’s thikkkkk, booty popping every which way! 
she has the type of body they write R&B songs about. 

she travels, practising ethical tourism, volunteering abroad,
     and leapfrogging from youth hostel to youth hostel.

she’s clever, fantastically clever,
cleverer than i can describe, MENSA smart but smarter.

she has friends, close friends, lots of friends 
   whom she has made a meaningful connection to, 
      who understand her in the truest sense of the word.

she’s successful, financially stable, even rich for her age.

but mostly, she’s complete in a way i am yet to understand. 
she’s not bored, she doesn’t lust for love, or for money, 
she doesn’t want for anything. 
she knows what is important.
she is important.
she has learnt the art of being, 
she just is, 
and that is simply enough for her.

Bella Smith

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i am a quitter

i am a quitter

i gave up on this poem before i even wrote it;
i gave up on my dreams before i even dreamt them
i heap goal upon goal, hoping one will stick

i am a madman, 
a revolutionist, 
a narcissist. 
i am everything i ever hoped i’d be 
but nothing like i’d imagined, 
my nightmare and my dream, 

i am learning,
growing,
taking a place in a society i never felt was mine, 
claiming a stake, 
teaching my lesson. 

i am worse than i ever feared, 
i am the best of me

Bella Smith

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When I’m Angry I Write Letters: A Photo Series

Writing letters is something a therapist suggested to me as a way to cope with my emotions. It was a very difficult time for me; in one year I had endured a sexual assault and also had made attempts to take my own life. I was angry at everything and had grown reliant upon unhelpful practices like substance abuse, disordered eating and self harm. I told her about a typewriter I had and we thought together it would be cathartic to punch out my thoughts onto paper and keep them somewhere safe. That way they wouldn’t be in my head anymore.

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I Hate Elon Musk So Much

When I was younger, living in the north of Scotland, we would have some pretty miserable winters. It would be dark at 3pm, wet and cold and windy. The one silver lining was that on clear nights, even when your fingers felt like they would fall off as you broke the ice in a water trough, you could see so many stars overhead. I could stand with my neck craned back and stare at them for hours.

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Anger and Gender: Equal but not the Same

Anger is an emotion that is highly influenced by gender. That is not to say that men are angrier beings. This is a popular misconception that plays into gender stereotypes of men being allowed to feel anger more than others, when in fact all genders feel anger equally and as intensely as one another.

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