Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2018 Finalists

What Matters 2018 Finalists

2018 What Matters? Artistic Merit Winner




Castle Hill High School


the third time I sat on a bed with a boy,

the second time I drank alcohol,

the first time

the feeling of you, a boy I barely knew,

dancing your cold, greedy fingers under my waistband,

awakens me from sleep into a whiskey daze,

and excuses and pleas tumble out of my mouth like verbal champagne vomit,

as you finger out the innocence that lies between my thighs,

at 4am

at 5am,

i am alone

and I have never felt

emptier than at


and tell me, how am I supposed to tell the man that I love,

that when he slips his hand down my pants,

that I can taste the stale champagne bile in my throat,

and I don't feel love from him but instead,

i am back in that very bed

and when my mother asks me why I am so quiet,

i must lie,



the third time I drank alcohol it was

by myself,

after the boy I barely knew put his hands down my pants,

after the man that I loved no longer wanted to dance

so when my biggest concern isn't my maths exercise,

and all I can think about is his hand between my thighs,

society just tells me that guys will be guys,

(also keep in mind that women often tend to dramatize)

and why else would you sit on the bed?

it's a situation so easily misread

and he's a teenage boy after all, there are things he just needs,

they get these uncontrollable urges and itches

so in the end,

society says,

boys will be boys

and girls will be bitches.

but I am so far from alone in my experience,

for every woman has a story like mine,

sister, classmate, mother, neighbour, aunt, teacher, daughter

What matters most is that instead of letting the girls of our generation grow up with the belief that they are most valued for what is between their legs, and boys thinking that their validation comes from how many girls they hook up with, is that we teach our children the vital qualities of a kind soul, gentle hands, and that respect is of the utmost importance.

2018 What Matters?Jenna Beck