Facing the Bull


“You all die at fifteen.”


Fearless girl statue fights trump meme culture, flat screen TV in the clinic getting a new pace maker—half of us have gone backwards, half forwards, another half to Mars where they can now plant potatoes, halibut and dollar store haircuts. But for now the statue stands proud. I wonder when they’ll pop her cherry.

Millions of Facebook shares, girl statue faces bull. What bull, I thought, but this is a lie, at first I felt like a happy face emoji because that’s what all the cool feminists told me I should feel, then a nagging wrench that something was not quite right—of course it wasn’t. A girl of about seven or eight with her hair back in a pony tail wearing a summer dress—this is now the symbol of the power of my voice, my choices? Honestly, I’d rather be the bull facing her.

Meme culture teaches girls can be anything. When you’re a girl you can believe what you’re taught, if you can work through all of the mixed messages … The tampon commercials declaring you’re powerful beyond measure, now here’s how to hide your shame, the soap commercials declaring all girls beautiful, as if that’s the one thing we’ve been waiting to hear our whole lives and needed capitalism to tell us, a president peeping in the change rooms of Miss Universe pageants, condom advertisements declaring the best sex ever requires hours of grooming and hair removal because he deserves it.

Sometimes I feel like I am a bull facing the seven year old me who thinks that she can rule the world, that she will go into business because the thought of doing something devoid of power and control didn’t enter my head—that was how I survived childhood. One day I would beat those with power by becoming them. Rich, of course. But still looking good in a dress … Fearless girl statue, the article was titled, but I thought that courage must involve fear, facing something dangerous without fear is child-like naiveté—as is the statue.

When I was the size of the statue, I fought boys in arm wrestling and usually won, I played war video games, I never wore shoes in summer, I loved math and wasn’t too cool to admit it, I read everything I could find. I thought tampon commercials were the bull.

I stare at the clinic TV as paramedics rush in. I want to ask them if we can watch  something more uplifting like Orange Is The New Black.

Now it’s been agreed that the statue will remain. The symbol of women’s empowerment—a frozen child who will never grow up. Bronze, probably Caucasian though it is hard to tell.

A petition to make the statue permanent goes viral, some of us don’t get a choice in the matter. A more ideological crumbling symbol would’ve been a woman facing the bull head on, or perhaps a post-it-note on the bull’s head—sorry, I’ve got better things to do today. When I was a child I would’ve taken you on because I was fearless. As a young adult I would’ve taken you on to prove something. Today I think I will go read a novel.

But none of those would be me. I didn’t say it was me, I didn’t say anything, they didn’t say you could speak.

Jill Talbot attended Simon Fraser University for psychology before pursing her passion for writing. Jill’s work has appeared in Geist, Rattle, Poetry Is Dead, The Puritan, Matrix, subTerrain, The Tishman Review, The Cardiff Review and PRISM. Jill won the PRISM Grouse Grind Lit Prize. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.