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“A male University of Toronto student filed a claim with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal accusing his Women and Gender Studies professor of discriminating against him when she failed him for never having attended the course.

Wongene Daniel Kim claims that Professor Sarah Trimble’s course was the only one that would fit in his schedule, but when he arrived on the first day, he discovered he was the only male in the class.

‘I felt anxiety,’ Kim told The Toronto Star. ‘I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming.'”

They play in the Meadow. The boy with dark curls and sad eyes, struggling to keep up on his chubby toddler legs. It took five, ten, fifteen years for him to agree. But Peeta wanted them so badly.

Forty women sort of sitting in a semicircle

When he first saw the child, he was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding him in his arms could tame it. Carrying him was a little easier, but not much. The questions were just beginning.

The desks had been completely destroyed, the semicircles forbidden. But they teach about them at school, and the boy knows that his father saw them once. How to tell him about that world without frightening thim to death? His child, who takes the words of the song for granted:

Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy
And when again they open, the sun will rise.
Here it’s safe, here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Women never sit in semicircles;
40 women never sort of sit in semicircles

Peeta tells them it will be okay. They have each other. And the book. They can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day he’ll have to explain about the nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away. The circles, and the semicircles, and the chairs, and the forty women sort of sitting in them.

He’ll tell them how he survived it. He’ll tell them that on bad days, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because he’s afraid he’ll look up and see them — all forty of them — sort of sitting in a semicircle. That’s when he makes a list in his head of every act of goodness he’s ever seen someone do. It’s like a homework assignment. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.

But there are worse classes to audit.

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