(Trigger warning: sexual assault)
I was not raised to be pleasant, to say yes to things because “it’s just how things are done.” I had five mothers, and each of them was preparing me for a world in which it wouldn’t matter how close together I kept my knees if someone decided to push them apart against my will. I’m supposed to provide unlimited access to myself, mind, body, soul, sense of humor, mental health, of course you didn’t force me, I didn’t say no outright. Did I? Could I?
Lady, like one who cannot and will not ever complain that she could’ve walked through the day bathing in warm air, instead of cowering indoors with the curtains closed because the burden of other people’s worries and perversions have formed a hump on her back she doesn’t want anyone to see. Ladylike, doesn’t wear shorts no matter how hot the August is, hides some of that skin from predators with claws for hands and a sense of entitlement as big as a court-mandated settlement check. Ladylike, it doesn’t matter how much you drink because if someone wants to conquer your time and your being, you will be laid to waste, no man’s land locked out of the gates of propriety.
I had five mothers and now I have four, and not one of them is ladylike. They are not interested in being liked or handed nods of approval as they process towards the altar, hands clasped in laps covered in white: I have sinned, Amen. Somewhere along the way I began to misuse the self with which I was anointed and entrusted. I believed that the width from my right hip to my left was the same length of the arm that would push me out of the door after the body it belonged to was satisfied and done with me. I took out all the tendons from my arms, my lower back, the backs of my knees, and used them to build a ladder for everyone to climb, one step closer to comfort, to freedom, to the candy land in the sky where nameless women like myself are dead during the day and wake up only at night to pleasure whoever demands it. My body is battered and bruised on these pages because the world has taught me that this body is all I have to dissect and give away. So now I sit, boneless in a heap of myself.
Lady, like the woman my five mothers do not want me to be. They are not interested in wringing their hands in muted despair, waiting their turn, watching mortals who are not even worthy of “demon” status tear souls to shreds between jaws fortified by privilege and light slaps on the wrist. My five mothers are not interested in being ladylike, and neither am I.
What I’ve been reading:
Our Hands are Tied because of this Damn Brother-Sisterhood Thing
Letter to Stanford Attacker
6 Women Allege that XO Senavoe Raped Them
(Image: My mum sent this photo of herself, in the sunglasses, and my two aunts and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever seen! Carefree and flawless before they were hashtags…)