I’ve Only Got Two Words For This

no-silence

 

“You have a chip on your shoulder as big as Texas, and just daring someone to knock it off.”

That’s a comment someone left on my writing (on Medium.com). A writing I did on what it felt like to be grabbed by the pussy. To be backed into a corner and forcibly grabbed.

The random male stranger who left it first made sure to explain to me that it’s not possible to be grabbed there.

“You would stand a better chance of grabbing belly fat on someone, than you would of being able to grab a woman’s genitalia. When I say grab, I mean to be able to take something in your hand and hold it, such as a broomstick. Be pretty hard to grab something down there, and hold it, like that.”

But it’s that one comment I can’t get out of my mind. It feels like an itchy wool sweater I can’t take off.

It feels like a white hot fury. Like astonishment that leaves you at a loss for words, when words are what typically flood your existence.

I’m not a person who argues. Especially on my writing. My words are so endemic to me, stitched into my very being. I put my writing out into the world and let it go. I don’t tell people what to take from it, or how to experience it.

It’s mine no matter what I do with it, where I put it, or what others filter from it.

I don’t generally argue with commenters. I can’t let one writing take up that much space in my life. I need room to let all my other words spill forth.

But that comment . . .

It feels like being backed into a corner again.

Like I’m taking up too much space in the world.

Like I should be quiet and keep my eyes down.

It feels like now my words are being grabbed, choked off. As if I don’t have the right to be me, or share my story, or speak a very personal truth.

I feel startled. Shaken.

I’ll never let my words be silenced. To do so would be to curl up into a ball and give up.

Yet I can’t right now find the words for that comment.

Other than fuck off. Which might just be the “chip on my shoulder” speaking. But that’s ok.

I refuse to silence any part of me.

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Yes, You Are a Part of the Problem. And You Sound Like a Creep.

rape-culture
Anti-Rape Protest Sign, Google Commons, Creative Commons License

I wrote a piece a few days ago about the problem, as I see it, with Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comment. In it, I shared a personal incident from my past where I was grabbed by the pussy, without my consent. I find the incident shameful. Not because it happened. That wasn’t my fault. But I feel ashamed that I didn’t say anything. I feel disappointed in myself.

That’s my problem. I don’t blame that on anyone else. Those are my own feelings and I can work through them.

I’m lucky that way. A lot of women can’t. A lot of women had far worse things happen to them and it’s incredibly difficult to work through all of the really tough emotions that emerge because of that.

But really, that’s what my piece was about. It was about a specific phrase, used by a specific person, that I felt connected well with something from my own past. I shared it in the hopes of raising awareness about how that particular phrase, and others like it, are harmful. They’re dangerous. And they perpetuate rape culture.

If your response to that is any of the following* . . .

* “How many millions of women bought 50 Shades of Gray? And now they’re upset about some dirty talk?”

* “But Bill Clinton! And Hillary is a rape apologist! And he’s a rapist! And Bill! Bill!! BILL!!”

* “Trump was obviously speaking in hyperbole.”

* “No one has accused Trump of rape or sexual assault. His only crime is that he offends the senses and he is not a nice guy.”

* “Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Rhianna, Kim Kardashian, they can trash Trump for what he said 11 years ago but their vulgar stage behavior in front of children is ok?”

* “Tell me again how supporting a rape apologist makes you think you can be an advocate for women.”

. . . then you are a glaring part of the problem. And you sound like a creep.

So if I write about one instance, a glaring example of how people perpetuate rape culture and the fallout it can produce, I have to write about every. single. one?

If I write about something Trump says, then it means I want you to vote for Hillary?

If I write that I think Trump is a sick piece of shit, that means I am voting for Hillary?

If I write about anything to do with Trump, you can assume you know everything about me including who I am voting for and what I feel about all of the other candidates? (You do know there are four in total, right?)

Let’s forget politics. Please.

If I write about one rape apologist, I have to write about all of them?

If I write about one piece of shit accused rapist, I have to write about all of them?

Got it.

Thanks for reminding me. I’ve been so busy writing ever since because of all the people like you taking the time out to remind me that I am now tasked with writing about EVERY instance of rape, assault, battery, harassment, abuse, rape apologist, etc. So busy, in fact, that there is literally no hope of my ever accomplishing anything else in my lifetime.

And I’ll still never finish.

Or, I don’t know, here’s a thought.

Maybe just read my piece and accept it for what it is. Me, sharing a very scary, intimate, shameful incident from my life in an effort to illustrate to those who don’t get it (I’m looking right at *you* now) how his language, and what he said, is dangerous. It was an attempt to explain to those who wondered “what’s the big deal” about what he said, *exactly what the very big fucking deal is.*

If you don’t understand why what he said is NOT what men typically talk about behind closed doors, that piece was for you.

If you think that bragging about sexual assault and battery is the same thing as *dirty talk*, that piece was for you.

If you’ve turned a blind eye to all the times Trump has been accused of harassment, assault, and rape because you don’t want to admit you don’t really give a shit and support him anyway, that piece was for you.

If you seriously think that a woman performing for an audience that paid for the right to see her perform, of her own free will, in skimpy clothes, is the same thing as a man saying that he has the right to grab a woman by her pussy without her consent, that piece was for you.

If you think that by pointing out what he said as wrong and drawing a correlation between what he said and how women often find themselves victims of the very type of battery he described, that I somehow have turned a blind eye to all the other rapists and abusers in the world, that piece was for you.

Nowhere in that piece did I tell anyone who to vote for instead of him. Nowhere did I mention who I’m voting for. Nowhere did I defend Hillary or Bill Clinton.

But hey, thanks for reminding me why I wrote it and for whom.

Just so there’s no further misunderstanding . . .

It was for you. Because you are a big part of the problem.

___

*A small sampling of actual responses I received here and elsewhere to my writing.

Stop Violating My Rights in the Name of Your Religion

no religion

As strongly as you feel about your god and your religion and your freedom to worship whomever you choose, that is how strongly I feel about my atheism.

I respect that you believe you must behave a certain way and be a good person because of what your god expects from you. Likewise, I believe that I must behave a certain way. I’m a good person because it’s how I want to be treated. I am kind and respectful to everyone I meet and I hope for the same kindness and respect in return. I’m this way because I believe in being a good person and trying to make a positive impact while I have time on this earth.

I respect that you believe you must attend church, or temple, or mosque, in order to pay tribute to or worship your god on certain days of the week. Likewise, I believe in taking time on certain days of the week to focus solely on my family and friends. To connect with them in meaningful ways and create lasting memories while my health and time allow. I believe in making sure that the people I love most know how much I love and appreciate their presence in my life.

I respect that the god you believe in tells you that you have to “save” others or convert them to your way of thinking.

You can ask. Go ahead. Ask me if I, or my children, would like to accompany you to church or temple or to mosque.

My reply is, and always will be, “No, thank you.

However, while I respect your desire to ask me, and don’t begrudge you asking once, I have to draw the line.

Ask once.

You are welcome to ask once. If my answer is, “No, but thank you for asking. I appreciate your kindness in extending the invitation, but I have no interest in attending church/temple/mosque/any other religious gathering,” then you need to not ask anymore.

Seriously. Once.

Continuing to ask me, and continuing to pressure me and my children, is bordering on consent violation.

Yes, I said “consent violation.

You’re coming across as “rapey.”

Let me explain, please.

If my teenage son were to ask your teenage daughter to have sex with him, and she says “No,” then that should be the end of it. But if he continues to ask, and pressure, and cajole, until she has sex with him in an attempt to get him to leave her alone, that would be considered a violation of her consent. I think, as her parent, you would agree.

Anytime you pressure someone into doing something that he/she has told you he/she does not want to do, you are violating their wishes and being an incredible asshat.

Even if god told you to do it.

Your continued pressure on me and my family to attend your religious events and subscribe to your religious beliefs will eventually work, but not in the way you might think.

I’m not going to stop being an atheist.

I will, however, stop being nice when I tell you, “No.”

“Feminist” Isn’t a Curse Word or Insult

feminist

A friend recently admitted to getting emotional while watching Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Presidential nominee. Then qualified her statement with, “I’m not a feminist by any means . . . “

Well, I am.

Because I believe that all human beings, no matter what their genitalia looks like, are equal.

Because if I am hired to do a job and get paid for it, and I do that job well, I should get paid the same as anyone else who does the job. No matter what either of our genitalia looks like.

Because I believe that women shouldn’t be treated like a liability simply because we can, or might, reproduce.

Because it’s disgusting that the United States of America has yet to have a female leader, while various countries around the world have. England, France, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nicaragua, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, just to name a few.

Because I’m sick of reading about rape victims’ lifestyle choices, clothing choices, drinking choices, career choices, walking choices, friend choices, motherhood choices, who she chose or didn’t choose to accompany her to a party, what party she chose to attend, why she chose to attend, and on and on and on. Oh, and the accuser’s swim times.

Because I’m tired of women who avail themselves of social service programs being treated like thieves, emptying your pockets of your hard-earned money. Like they immaculately conceived their child(ren) as a way to avoid work their entire lives. Like they are all drug addicts and alcoholics. When, in fact, a study revealed “that 56% of federal and state dollars spent between 2009 and 2011 on welfare programs — including Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — flowed to working families and individuals with jobs. In some industries, about half the workforce relies on welfare.” (Source.)

Because I hate how women are treated as if they’re ornaments. Like they’re daft. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re actresses. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re astronauts. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re politicians. They’re asked stupid questions on job interviews.

I’m a proud feminist.

No matter what you think of that word.

No matter how much it sounds like a sneer when it comes out of some people’s mouths.

No matter that you treat it like it’s a curse word or an insult.

I’m a proud fucking feminist.

And if you believe in equality, for all human beings, you are as well.

So embrace it. Take the bitter taste out of the word. The very people who want to keep you down, are the ones who keep it tainted. Don’t buy into their patriarchal, ignorant bullshit. Flip those fuckers off.

Want to know how?

Be a fucking feminist.

 

An Open Apology: Sorry My Vagina is Being Such a Cunt

It is my vagina, right?

Because I used to think it was my tits. They are so much more “in your face,” after all.

Technically though, you have tits, too. Yours are just smaller and less useful due to a different cocktail of hormones.

I’ve ruled out my uterus, ovaries, and other reproductive organs because “out of sight, out of mind.” I guess it could be my clit, but I’m going to assume that while you may have a general idea of its location, you will probably still not be capable of putting your finger on it.

Even with a map. And GPS.

So, my vagina it must be.

Sorry.

Sorry my vagina keeps you from being all business-like. It must suck to be incapable of speaking to me, a fellow human being, in a respectful manner. Like the way you speak to other men.

I’m sorry my vagina doesn’t look like the penises you want surrounding you all the time. It must be annoying to have to constantly ask to speak with my husband. Imagine if my vagina was one of those uppity vaginas who didn’t have a husband? I bet that’s tough for you when that happens.

Sorry you can’t work on my car, or change my tire, or sell me stuff, or build me a house because of my pesky vagina. I mean, there are so darn many of us humans with vaginas around! I can see how that must eat into your potential income. Sorry.

Sorry my vagina forces you to explain to me the ways of the world in simplified terms. That must be exhausting. It tires me out just listening to it, so I can imagine how it must make you feel. Especially when a vagina points out things like “credentials” and “expertise” and “years of experience” and “advanced degrees” and other things that make a vagina feel as if the body its attached to is knowledgeable and qualified to speak on a topic. Then you have to re-explain it and dumb things down further.

Because vagina.

Sorry my vagina is just, like, this gaping hole that needs to be filled. It must be that you’ve never outgrown that urge you had as a kid to stick something in the electrical socket and here I am walking around with a hole that you just want to put things into. Sorry your mom assumed you’d listen when she told you “no.”

In her defense, vagina.

I can see how it must anger you to walk through life with all these gaping vaginas around you and people expecting you to not stick stuff in them whenever and wherever you want. Sometimes when you do that, you end up arrested. Not all the time, but sometimes. And that must really throw you for a loop. Because hey, it’s just like any other hole. Right?

It seems like vaginas everywhere lately are being so cunty. (Is that a word? You tell me, because I have a vagina and we all know how that clouds my judgment.) It’s like they just keep insisting on being paid the same and treated the same as penises. They think they have “ideas” and that they have “rights.” It seems too like there are lots of penises getting on board. Penises who think the same and work to respect the vaginas. WTF, amiright?

Sorry that whole scene knocks you off your high horse. I can see why that is so scary for you. I mean, who would want to have to suddenly embrace new norms AND admit to not being the end all, be all authority on all things AND stop sticking whatever they want into any gaping vagina that walks by whenever?!

Sorry.

I have to admit something, though. Despite all this apologizing I’ve done, I kind of like the idea of being seen as more than just a vagina.

Even if you prefer to keep being a dick.

Eternity Can’t Be Ours

I miss you already.

Not the way I do when you leave for work or are away for days. I miss you then, too, in that silly way that makes me coo into the phone when I hear your voice and smile thinking of your return.

No, I miss you more than that.

When I stop to think about the fact that everything will end . . .

That we will end . . .

There’s no avoiding our goodbye.

I’ll go first. Or you. We might go together.

But we’ll be over.

This love that bleeds from me to you and back again, a never-ending pulse of life that flows between us, will end.

Our language will be catalogued among the many whose echoes have faded from existence. Our inside jokes will illicit no giggles.

I want us to go on forever, comets across the sky.

Our love streaking in vapor trails through the universe. They’ll point up and stare as we burn beyond the moon and leave behind the hope that comes from wishing upon our light.

I want us to go on forever, hands locked together and legs entwined.

Sculptures, quiet muses, for the artists who want to know what love looks like.

I want us to go on forever, filling pages with stories of struggle and triumph.

Our love soaked in tears from those who read between our lines.

My heart aches from missing you already . . . in those moments when I stop and breathlessly recall that eternity can’t be ours.

Washed Away With a Whisper

picmonkey_image

My skin crawls sometimes
A burning unease
Buzzing like tattoo needles
Etching in my sins
Just below the surface
Just out of sight from everyone else

Taunting

Unsettled pacing
My hands pulling through my hair
My fingers pounding at the keys
Tears tightrope across my lashes
My soul aflame
My heart a kick drum rhythm

Aching

Play with me
I beg
Weak
And needy
Desperate for quiet

A quiet that hovers just out of reach

Always
Just below the surface
Just out of sight from everyone else

A screaming specter only I can see

Threatening me

I can’t get free

Play with me
And when he does
I beg
Weak
And needy
Push me further
Make it hurt
More

Quiet the burning and buzzing
That you can’t hear
That you don’t see
Break me please

Make me free

And then
Sometimes
The quiet comes unexpectedly
Minus the pain
Before I ever beg

Sometimes it’s all washed away with a whisper

Make them sick with wanting to know what that feels like

For just a moment
Without a struggle
I’m set free

 

*inspired by the photo quote above – words of encouragement written to me from a friend.