screaming tomorrow

You were born two years and
four months after I screamed in Ravenna
Somehow we are still twins
we shared a home together in a previous cosmic plane
that reminds me of taking acid
in a pouring Manhattan rain

Back on this planet I kept the womb warm for your small bones
We took nutrients and love from the same breast
She says you stole and I gracefully asked
But is it your fault you are so obvious in your needs?

I know what you see when you look
between the bars on your window
I know you feel the dirt that was kept cool underneath the rolls of Ohio grass underneath your fingernails
I taste the blood and you taste the metal that lives behind our mothers teeth

I know you smell the warmth of a country home the smell of love the smell of forgiveness
no matter how many times you pick pocketed our grandfathers soft leather wallet
I know the salt burns your eyes, a cocktail of green and brown and blue, when you feel the wind off the Californian coast
and when your head touches the flat pillow that you borrow from the county

When you swallow the pills,
we both taste West Virginia, taste wild strawberries, taste everything a child should
Is your bed as comfortable as the four hour car ride, bundled in the back seat
with sharp spring air grazing our cheeks at three am?
Do your sheets smell like our aunts hair, like her sunflower filled kitchen, like the heavy wooden walls of the modestly majestic farm house we disappeared into?

I know we are hungry, maybe for different things
But the thirst runs deep, my dear,
through generations of fight
Your ghost keeps me awake and you have haunted my room that is resembling your cell the more I
roll these memories around the roof of my mouth
I have to remind myself that you are still flesh, if only slightly
Your bones shake and I feel their shudder in my veins

We are both screaming Ravenna in hopes of summers
in the memory of our home planet
in the memory of what we thrived in
Watching it unfold, a wave of dust, a faded bible, an empty pew
I cannot piece together how your face looks because all I have are angry phone calls and when you stutter while you’re high
I can’t decide if you know who you’re talking to

I am screaming Ravenna
I am screaming Brooklyn
I am screaming
I am

“should I tear my eyes out now/everything I see returns to you somehow.”

What Feminism Is Not.

Over the past two years, a plethora of articles and essays have come forward proclaiming what feminism is. Hosts of celebrities from Beyonce to Emma Watson have proudly worn the badge on their chests, and used diluted and fragmentary definitions of the wide spread political and social movement.

I have written in the past what feminism is, to myself at least. But I feel it is also important to dissect what feminism isn’t. And no, I’m not talking about young women coming out and saying “It’s not about hating men, it’s about unifying people!!!!!” I have my own opinions on that (spoiler alert: they’re wrong!!!)

All the same, I feel it important to set the parameters for what feminism is NOT in order to help us as women overcome the incessant proclamations from corporate and capitalistic entities that insist on plunging their watered down and money mongering beliefs down our throats.

Feminism is not…

  • Corporate enterprises displaying tee shirts with the aforementioned adulterated definitions of this movement, dressed up as tag lines, on $30 tee shirts in stores like H&M, Target, and Forever 21 (among a handful of the companies that do this). The funds from these shirts and tops go back in their own pocket, as opposed to women’s foundations, which proves that they are capitalizing on the fact that women — ESPECIALLY young women — are being woken up to their own oppression. They are riding on the hopes that feminism is a trend, when it has been around for generations. The cosmetic and fashion industry all ready rides on the coattails of female insecurity in hopes that we will surrender ourselves to their disastrous attempts at distancing women from embracing each other for all their “flaws”, and give in to their ideals that we are fragile and broken, and this makeup or tee shirt or Spandex will encourage us to love ourselves, when in reality it is only going to make us robots, and personifications of what the male gaze expects from us.
  • Continuing on the previous point, feminism is NOT designer tee shirts with, surprise surprise, the bland definition created by these corporate goons, sold at a ridiculous price, and MADE BY women in sweatshops, who’s paychecks are dismal, at the least. These shirts are created by poor women whom feminism is supposed to protect. They don’t help anything, except to identify people that don’t completely understand the concept of feminism, clearly, but they also help us to know who in fact is a hypocrite, hiding behind the title “feminist.”
  • Bland white Hollywood men who claim to be feminists. Sorry, but if you are a man, and you are claiming to be a feminist, you probably aren’t. Benedict Cumberbatch is not inherently more attractive because he claims to understand and be a feminist. Men are feminist allies. They are not allowed in the circle of feminism. They can support us by teaching other men about feminism, but you are not instantly granted immunity from your shitty behaviour because you claim to be one of us. In my experience, and in the experiences of other women, men who claim to be feminists merely use that as a podium to tell us what our oppression is, what we are feeling is wrong, and what we should be seeing. When the reality of it is, the only people who are educated and experienced enough to be women, ARE WOMEN. Not someone who claims to know what feminism is and then completely shits on women who disagree with him. (Additionally, there are men out there who claim to be feminists and use that as a leeway into abusing women OR assuming that women should sleep/have relationships/be nice to them because of what they think they are.)
  • White women assuming feminism is only for equality. You cannot preach equality when we are treating our black sisters as if their problems do not exist. You cannot preach equality when we are pushing our sisters of colour to the side, and acting as if the oppression they face is separate from feminism. Sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, and classism all exist in the same world, and if you claim to be a feminist, then you should actively be fighting against these forces, as well.
  • Adding onto that. Feminism is NOT Patricia Arequtte standing at a podium at an elite awards ceremony that caters mainly to thin white people, enlisting black and gay people to help in the cause for wage equality, while completely forgetting that black gay women exist. You are completely alienating a huge demographic that is largely affected by the wage gap. Women of color and gay women are drastically more affected by the wage gap than a white woman. Additionally, if you are a Hollywood movie star making millions of dollars a year, you should be screaming about the inequality of pay among the working class. You make more money than most women in the real world make. And no, I am not suggesting that you sit quietly while your male movie star counterparts are making more than you in a film, but that is not a reason to make a passionate speech at an awards ceremony regarding wage inequality. You are making more money than I, an able bodied white woman, will ever make in my entire life. Imagine the message that sends to poor women of colour. You are fighting for you, and your eyesight is immensely blighted by the privilege you bathe in every fucking morning.
  • Since you are sitting here reading this, I am going to add in an Audre Lorde quote from a keynote presentation that was delivered at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in June 1981 that relates directly to the two points mentioned above. As white women, we should heed these words and apply them to our lives and interactions that we have with people, especially our white peers. “I have seen situations where white women hear a racist remark, resent what has been said, become filled with fury, and remain silent because they are afraid. That unexpressed anger lies within them like an undetonated device, usually to be hurled at the first women of Colour who talks about racism. But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies.” 
  • Feminism is not Glamour or Cosmopolitan using the word “empowerment” in order to attempt to sell self confidence to young women, even when their publications are at fault for encouraging women to feel shitty about themselves, as they promote acceptance of the male gaze. Empowerment is a word that has been thrown and strewn about in order to make these publications palatable to women who strive for equality and justice. Empowerment is not a $60 pair of underwear, or expensive make up, or having beautiful chemically treated blonde straight hair. These are ways that we give ourselves up to the male gaze. “But they make me feel good about myself!” What was wrong with yourself before? You are adhering to an image that was created to keep you in line, and appear socially acceptable. On top of that, most of these “empowering” products and standards fall in line with white supremacist ideals, tossing women of colour under the bus, because they will never have light skin and blue eyes. (which is false, but it is attributed to white beauty all the same, and a black girl with blue eyes is never seen in the same light as a white girl with blue eyes.) These standards tell our sisters of colour that they will never look like white beauty, but they should still spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars so they are at least trying to match up to the white male gaze, and be accepted by white women. (I feel very hypocritical writing this one, because I too fall victim to these standards, but I am trying to work on it.) It’s fine to feel good about yourself, but feel good about the hard work you do, or the self care you harvest within, or the education you retain, or the pleasure you feel at helping someone. That is empowerment. Wear that expensive mascara, but know that it does not empower you.

There are about a million other things I could state, and they will probably come up in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. But please. Remember what feminism is. Remember what we are fighting for. And please, stop sugar coating a movement that is striving for justice, all so it can be more acceptable to men and women that try and tell us we are wrong.

now & forever.

[please note: there are mentions of rape, sexual encounters with a child, some graphic descriptions of sex, etc etc.]

There are things that remind me of that night. But in reality, it wasn’t just a night. It was two weeks. But there are things that I taste and smell that take me back to my fourteen year old body.

I have changed since then. My C cups are now DDs, at least I think. I cannot muster the courage to go into a Victoria’s Secret and have them measure me, sneer at my unshaven armpits, and bleach stained leggings that I bought on discount at Marshall’s. My hair is longer, and has been through the mill: pink purple blue green. My skin is cluttered with impurities thanks to my nicotine and caffeine addiction, supplemented by the musty and dusty New York air that permeates my pores. The clothes I wear are suited to fit snugly against my wide hips and thighs, parts of me that did not exist seven years ago, parts of me that I have loved and hated into fulfillment. I don’t have any photographs from when I was fourteen, because I couldn’t bare the sight of myself. I cannot compare myself, physically; I can only use my memory which has been blighted and overshadowed.

Back to the smells and tastes, though.

Sometimes, when I buy a certain type of weed and smoke it, I am transported to a shitty apartment balcony in southern California. It burns the back of my throat and tastes bitter; it tastes like it’s not really there, but I can feel it, so it must be. Every once and a while, I’ll smoke a Clove cigarette. The sweetness of the filter, and the thick heavy clouds that pour from my lips take me back to a beat up black faux leather couch, the piss-yellow stuffing and cushions pouring out, trying to escape their tight sweaty coverings.

Drug store shampoo reminds me of a pillow. I don’t know the scent or the brand, and I don’t buy it on purpose, because its artificial scent makes me nauseous and I have to dump the entire contents into the toilet. I couldn’t eat instant ramen for a long time, because all I could see was a dingy kitchen that was only lit by the fading California sun, the hard noddles sitting in a tupperware, softening in the tap water that he hoped was hot enough to make his dinner bearable.

It’s wild to me that all these memories and scents and tastes and feelings can go back to one singular person, a person I only knew for two weeks at that.

I met him in the gym of the apartment complex I lived in with my family. I had rejected all my friends, mainly because most of them belonged to my parents church, and the church itself was about an hour from our apartment and I was fourteen, and my friends were maybe sixteen, and no one had a car, and no one cared enough to drive to Moreno Valley to see me or pick me up. We moved there after we lost our house, got rid of our dogs, said goodbye to Redlands.

I was desperate for a friend. The fact that he was a boy, a relatively cute boy, didn’t faze me. Maybe it enthralled me. All the boys I knew only cared about shitty music and guitars and Jesus and proving everyone wrong.

My mother was there when we met. She disappeared into the locker room while we talked. He was with someone else, someone much older. At the time, I assumed he was thirty-five; looking back now, he was probably in his late twenties. He was introduced as his cousin.

I never understood why he wanted to talk to me. Why did he want to be my friend? Why did I stick out? I was wearing gym shorts, an old tee shirt, and a sweaty face.

He was nineteen. I was fourteen.

He asked my mother if I could hang out with him, that he’d have me home soon. I’m unsure if my mother realised the age difference. Maybe she did. Maybe she assumed I was responsible enough to handle a nineteen year old male friend. I was always assumed to be more mature. It was something I took pride in, but it was also something I grew to disdain.

The memories of that night are so foggy. Nothing happened. Nothing specifically. I don’t even remember if he kissed me. The only real thing, the only tangible thing, from the first night that we hung out that I remember, was sitting by one of those gazebos that I’m pretty sure you can only find in southern California apartment complexes. They’re surrounded by grass so painfully green it looks fake. The walls of the apartments, all of them, were made from this fake adobe looking plaster shit that peeled off if you played with it long enough. All the apartments in California were like this.

We just sat. I think I ran through the sprinklers at some point in an attempt to look like some sweet, free spirited girl that I hoped I was, but in reality didn’t come close to. He walked me home. We agreed to hang out more tomorrow.

I believe this was during the summer, but even if it wasn’t, I was homeschooled at the time. I couldn’t handle public school due to an anxiety disorder that didn’t fully formulate itself until sophomore year of high school. Back then, it merely lingered in the back of my mind. I was submerged in this angsty depression that I knew went deeper then teenage mood swings. I was being suffocated by loneliness. I had developed an eating disorder. I was at the gym every single night, and ate dinners of celery and carrots. If I ate something more, I tried to make myself throw up. I never fully accomplished that, however.

I’m unsure how many days we hung out together before things started to happen.

The apartment he shared with his cousin was shitty. It was smaller then mine, as it was only a one bedroom. But it barely had anything in it. My parents had attempted to make ours feel homey. We had nice comfortable couches, and some furniture. Probably some department store art on the walls. His apartment had a long fake leather couch that looked like it had been passed through three or four families before landing here. There was no TV. Maybe there was some sort of table. The balcony had mismatched chairs and ashtrays all over. I don’t recall ever venturing farther then the living room area. The only rooms I occupied were the living room, the balcony, and once, the bedroom, for a brief period of time.

It smelled like cigarette smoke, and something fruity that I couldn’t place at the time. Their electricity had been shut off because they didn’t pay the bill for three months. I heard them throw around the word eviction a few times.

One of the first nights, I sat around a hookah with him and his cousin. The clouds of smoke were beautiful and fragrant. I loved it immediately. I didn’t fully understand the concept of smoking tobacco, or anything. I only held it in my mouth before releasing it. No inhalation. I didn’t find out I was doing this until I was eighteen when this guy I was sleeping with for a few weeks told me I smoked cigarettes wrong.

I don’t remember the conversation. I don’t think I was involved. They mainly talked between themselves, but looked at me as they spoke as if to include me. I remember excusing myself at some point, saying I needed to get home.

The first time I smoked weed was in this apartment. The three of us sat on the balcony. They started me off with a bong. I am now an experienced smoker, and understand that this is not the way to go. When it’s your first time smoking weed, you shouldn’t burden yourself with the concept of a bong. They basically did everything for me, except smoke. It would have been better to start with a joint, even a simple piece. Whatever. I smoked it.

Of course, I didn’t actually get high. Most smokers know that the first time they smoked weed, they didn’t get high. I felt something, maybe. I felt hazy. I watched the leaves, crispy from the sun. “Everything is moving… so slow…”

They took me to the mall across the street from the apartments. “We are going to make sure you don’t turn into a lazy stoner. You need to make sure you get out and do things.”

I did not want to go out and do things. My legs felt heavy. My head felt full of cotton. I am still like this. I am not the type of stoner to go out and do things when I’m high, to my partner’s dismay.

I remember how white the mall was. We went through the entrance of the JC Penny first. The comforters on the display bed looked cool and fresh and clean. The linoleum floors glinted and winked up at me.

That’s all I can remember from that day.

At this point, we had definitely kissed. Possibly made out. I don’t know anymore.

Sometimes, when I look back at this period, this two week period, I feel like all that happened was we met, we fucked, he left. I forget that there are instances in between. There are tangible things that I have reduced to dust. I am stretching my memory in hopes of revisiting this. Why? It doesn’t feel good. I am sitting at my desk right now, shivering even though it’s humid out, my stomach lurching from nerves and anxiety. The need for a cigarette is making it hard to find the words and the story and the pieces of this puzzle that I have to assemble. Why must it be assembled? Why can it not lay in broken pieces in the shoe box in the closet? I am a nostalgic person, but reliving this time feels as if someone is skinning me alive, with precision and skill, peeling me like an orange, so smoothly that I don’t feel it at first, but then the shock of it all hits me like a stone wall.

The thing that really kills me sometimes is the fact that I legitimately cannot remember the first time we had sex. I cannot remember the first time I had sex. All the days blur together, thanks to the weed, thanks to the confusion. It was as if I had been living in a dark cave for months and months, and all of a sudden someone put a flashlight in my face. I am pleased and happy for the warmth and light, but it is staggering, and I cannot adjust, and all those days in the cave suddenly become one, one long day that I cannot discern, I cannot plot out on a timeline. It all becomes one.

I remember sitting on his couch, that fucking couch that I always hated because my thighs would stick to the pleather, my skin slick with sweat from the summer heat. My ability to get wet was at its prime. I was a jumble of sexual emotions. The slightest thing set me off. I had never explored this before, never knew I could get wet, didn’t realise that was a function my body could produce. This I remember vividly. The feeling of his finger being swallowed by my cunt. Then multiple fingers. The rocking back and forth. I don’t remember if I enjoyed it. I don’t remember moaning or sighing, just that his hand was dripping, and it was because of me.

At the end of the day, I had no idea what an orgasm was. I think I asked him. “It feels like you’re going up and up and up and then you fall down.” That clarified nothing. Looking back now, I know I didn’t come. I didn’t comprehend the idea of the female orgasm until years later.

I remember him pulling away from me, smirking. “That was just with my hand.”

What was he going to use next? I remember furrowing my brow, not understanding that. Not comprehending why he would use his hand, or anything else.

For background purposes, I attended public school in a pretty conservative town. We had health class in middle school, but nothing remotely close to sex ed. I think my first sex ed class was my freshman year of high school, when I was homeschooled. I had to read a few pages of awkward bodily functions and condoms. I rushed through the lesson because I didn’t care. My parents never had the sex talk with me. Sometimes I wonder if that is because I lost my virginity so young, and they felt it wasn’t necessary.

Again. I don’t remember what happened after that. I don’t remember the FIRST time. I do remember him asking me to come back the next day, and I did. I asked where his cousin was. “He went back to the beach today. He said I needed to finish what I started, so he gave us the place for the night.”

What did you start? I found myself thinking.

That must have been the night.

I have collective memories of the multiple times we had sex. Some happened on this little spot on the floor where he slept, where he laid out a pad of blankets and pillows. Some were on his cousins bed. Some on the couch. Sometimes it was pitch black due to the inability to turn on any lights. Some was when the sun was streaming in, pale and pink, late evening.

I have other memories, too. Ones that aren’t about sex or the physical aspect of our relationship. He loaned me a Saul Williams book. I finished reading it in a day, was obsessed. I couldn’t comprehend someone like that existed and wrote like that. A few weeks later, when he was gone, he sent me an email with a poem he wrote about me, in that same format. He talked about me running through the sprinklers. That’s how I remembered that moment by the gazebo.

I remember showing him my music, the songs and albums that I liked.

I remember laying on my bedroom floor, and he traced my hipbones. I only remember this because he said, “Look at those hipbones.” And I was flattered because I couldn’t believe my hipbones were even visible. (That’s really not the case anymore.)

I remember how he told me about other girls. I remember him telling me about the girl he lost his virginity to.

I remember going to my apartment after getting really stoned. I gave him my leftover pasta, and watched him inhale it, as he hadn’t eaten anything that wasn’t ramen in two months.

It was confirmed that they were going to evicted from their apartment. I don’t think either of them had jobs. It was inevitable.

He stayed until the morning the security office came and kicked him out. His cousin had left the night before.

He had found a place to stay in Costa Mesa. My mother agreed to drive him out there. He showed up at my apartment really early in the morning, when it was still dark out. He had dragged all his belongings across the apartment complex. I stored it in my room. We climbed up my loft bed. I told him I couldn’t have sex with him in my parents house. Never. I would never do that. My conception of sex was that it was inherently dirty. I knew that my parents would never agree with me. I had felt no shame in what I had done, but I couldn’t bring it into my parents house. We fell asleep together.

We drove him out. We briefly said goodbye. He didn’t kiss me. I was unsure why. Maybe it was because my mother was in the car and could potentially see us. Either way, it was a disappointing farewell.

That night, and the following three days, I barely left my room. I cried constantly. I smelled his shampoo on my pillow, and fell asleep with my face pressed into it until the smell lingered off and was replaced with my own scent.

I waited for him to call. He finally did. He had been kicked out of his friends apartment for what he said were “ridiculous fucking reasons”. He had moved into a halfway home, I guess.

After that first conversation, I felt every bit of my being melt into the floor. I felt hot and feverish. Lightheaded. I didn’t know why.

Looking back, I understand why. A fourteen year old girl should not have a nineteen year old boyfriend that lives in a halfway house. I couldn’t fully articulate that feeling or comprehend why that felt wrong. It is only in retrospect that I see the imbalance.

A few weeks went by. At least I think it was weeks. It may have been days.

All the same. Word got out that I had slept with this boy. My parents had no clue. My mother had warned me against it, which is why one night, when she had to go find me at two in the morning, she screamed “I don’t want you having SEX.” I had laughed her off. “Ma, come on.” At that point, we had had sex multiple times.

People from my parent’s church found out. I had confessed to a woman that I was really close to in confidence. She started sobbing. She was 22 and married. She was pure, she was clean. She was so sad for my loss of innocence.

She had called me and let me know that a pastor found out. How? She had told him. She didn’t admit that. But I now know she went to him. He had to report it to my parents.

I figured I may as well come clean before someone else made it known to them. May as well avoid the few in between days of sneaking around in a guilty shadow around the apartment.

I asked my mother to come into my room, and I confessed. I began sobbing. I thought it was because I was truly hurt, because I had truly messed up.

Retrospect is a bitch, but she’s been helping me get this story together. I was not upset with myself. I was guilty at being caught. In my mind, I still didn’t see that I had done anything wrong.

The conversation I had with my mother still sticks out pretty vividly in my mind, but I don’t feel it pertinent to discuss with anyone. Somethings should stay between mother and daughter. She didn’t cry, and she didn’t yell. She advised me to break up with him, and soon.

So I did.

There are a few things that happened during those two weeks that I haven’t touched upon. The biggest one being that he didn’t use a condom once. I lied and told my mother he did. But he didn’t. He let me know that due to a biking accident when he was younger, it was impossible for him to produce sperm that could result in pregnancy; he was infertile. I believed him. And you know, maybe it was true. And in reality, I had never seen a condom in my life, didn’t understand how they worked, and definitely didn’t know that they not only protect you from unwanted pregnancy, but diseases as well.

When I sat on the phone with him, I told him this. “You didn’t even use a condom… You could have used a condom…”

The conversation was brief. He didn’t have long to talk, as it was a shared phone. He begged me to call him back in an hour. “Please. We need to keep talking. Please. Call me back.” He was crying, I could hear it. I was stone. “Okay,” I assured him, my voice flat and smooth.

I never called him back.

Things faltered out after this. I slept on the couch for a week because I couldn’t stand the emptiness and bareness of my room. I kept the TV on as I slept, or as I tried to. I remember my dad coming out one night, stroking my hair, kissing my forehead. That was the most he had ever addressed about this matter, even to this day.

We moved away shortly after this. My younger brother had been getting into trouble in the neighbourhood, and I couldn’t drive past his apartment without feeling nauseous.

Back in Redlands, I started going to church. I didn’t convert back to Christianity by any means, but this was my only social outlet. I had abandoned the religious aspect of church around 13, and never turned back. I was lighter and happier. I can only imagine the heavy wool of guilt that would have consumed me had I been an active Christian after this whole ordeal.

Within two months, after we had moved into a lovely two story house, gotten a cat and a dog, started moving back into the normality of what our life was before moving to Moreno Valley, I rarely thought about him.

The only thing that had really changed was the acceptance I found with my body. I understood a little bit more about what that “naughty bit” down below did. I explored, and read, and educated myself, because I knew no one else would. I was still clueless about sex. I wouldn’t truly begin to understand my sexual organs until I was sixteen, and began dating girls. By the time I was eighteen, I felt pretty liberated and comfortable.

This feels like the story of some poor fourteen year old girl who allowed herself to be seduced by a nineteen year old.

I am here to tell you it is not.

A few days after people found out, my mother had a talk with me, in the darkness of her bedroom, probably late at night, because I had stopped sleeping. She told me I needed to tell her his last name and where he lived. She said the pastor from her church who knew needed to report this.

This was the first time I heard the phrase statutory rape.

stat·u·to·ry rape
noun

LAW
  1. (in some jurisdictions) sexual intercourse with a minor.

I remember sobbing into a pillow, but it felt like a scream. I couldn’t believe the word rape was being used to describe this whole situation. I thought it was foolish. I wasn’t raped. I wasn’t. I wanted it. I wanted it? Did I want it? Was I even asked? But did I say no? I didn’t say no. It wasn’t rape. Was it?

Because I didn’t know his last name, because I didn’t have his address, or even a permanent phone number, nothing ever came of this. I remember finding a business card for a police station in my mother’s purse sometime after that. I never knew if it was because of this, or because my brother had gotten into trouble again.

I pushed that term, that disgusting and irrelevant term, far from my mind. I blocked it out.

Again, life went on. This didn’t hold me back. I wasn’t “loose” or “wild” once I returned to public school my sophomore year. I had started dating a girl that I loved very much for a few months. I had crushes on boys. I was infatuated with my now husband who lived in New York then.

Once I turned 18, I did become free with who I slept with. I made out with boys in gas station parking lots. I started dating a girl who is still a good friend today. We made out in her car, after driving around and passing a piece back and forth. I was sleeping with a guy that worked at my favourite coffee shop. After I moved to New York, and my boyfriend and I broke up, I had many sexual encounters with tourists that passed through the hostel I was temporarily living and working in.

I felt no shame, no regret. I had made the conscious decision that I wanted this. I was saying yes.

A few weeks, maybe a few months ago, my husband and I were walking down the street. I forget what we were talking about. I’ll assume it was some new law, or something ridiculous a male politician had said about rape. I was ranting and raving about it. Then I said it. “I mean, I was technically raped. But that’s a box I don’t really want to open right now.” I felt my heart stop, my breath catch. The moment passed. My husband shifted in his step. I saw the desire to press further, but he held back. “Hmm.” That contemplative noise he makes when something bothers him, but he knows he shouldn’t say anything.

Again, I forgot about this moment completely. This whole situation comes back in waves, painful and harsh and crushing. But then the sea becomes placid and I am unconcerned. When the storm began again, sex became very difficult for me, even with someone I trusted. For years, and still today, I can’t handle being fingered. It made me nauseous. But I didn’t realise why until I’d talked it out with my husband.

I do not believe in the concept of virginity. I believe it is a societal construct placed upon young people, especially women, to keep them in line. If you lose that piece of you, you are dirty. I remember my mother telling me, “you will just have to learn how to deal with that loss of innocence.” I was fourteen, and I should not have had to grow up because I’d unknowingly and unwillingly lost my virginity. I have heard stories of rape victims being told they were used up, like they were a piece of gum, or tape that no longer was sticky enough to serve a purpose. I didn’t lose anything. No one took anything from me. Why must women give away pieces of themselves? Why is this expected of us?

A few weeks ago, social media was bursting with photos and articles of Kylie Jenner with Tyga. A seventeen year old with a twenty five year old. It shook me to my core.

This cannot be a normalized thing.

Teenage girls do not need to be subjected to the lustful gazes and demands of grown men. Teenage girls should not feel the need to grow up fast and suck dick. They should not be in a situation where they need to sexually please an adult. There is an imbalance of power. Adults need to know better then to engage children in relationships. I don’t care how old they are. I shouldn’t have to say this.

It is not a teenage girl’s responsibility to say no to sex with a grown man. They won’t always say no. But that doesn’t mean it is okay.

I didn’t understand anything about sex beyond what I had seen on television. I should not have been in that situation. I was fourteen years old. Why would you expect me to know what sex was?

I do not feel like I lost a piece of me.

I feel anger. I feel angry that a grown man felt it was okay to violate the body of a child, of a teenage girl, because they didn’t understand the concept of sex.

The word rape rattles me to my core. I feel my bones tremble and shake.

I am not dirty. I am not unlovable. I am not worthless. I am still important. I was important the minute after my first time, and I am important after the thousandth time.

Stop shaming girls for grown men not being able to control themselves. Stop assuming that teenage girls have the autonomy to make that decision. Stop making them grow up faster then they need to. And for the love of the Goddess, do not shame them for being taken advantage of. They are still allowed to value their childhoods and teenage years. They are still allowed to make mistakes. They are not suddenly adults because someone felt it was okay to violate them.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’ll wake up, and I’ll suddenly have a new memory from those two weeks. It will disorient and confuse me. I suddenly do not see my apartment, but I see that bare and sad apartment I was once stripped down in, opened up, and eaten from like I was a buffet. I will reach over and touch my husband’s back, feel his cool skin, stabilizing myself. I’ll walk around the apartment, find each of my cats, say their names, and kiss their heads. I will sit on the kitchen floor, and count the pots and pans. I will run hot water over myself in the bathtub and scrub every inch of me.

I will crawl back into bed. He will roll over, heavy arm draped around my waist, and he subconsciously kisses my forehead, not feeling my disappearance, but knowing that I’ve returned.

Sometimes I have to go somewhere else, and it takes me a minute to find home.

i am the sea

sea1 sea2

i am a well
i open up into the sea
i have a floor of lost footprints
remnants of shipwrecks
fish scales + mermaid hair
i have been polluted by
outside commercialism
dirt shit trash hate fear
emptied into my emptiness
consuming my vastness
i have waves that consume
that rip the throats of men
from the inside out
i am composed of molecules and salt
widows sob in my bay
and i catch their losses

i have destroyed armies
moses opened me up and i bled into the sky
my belly is full of circling sharks
pink dolphins
coral reefs
dead bodies
children fear me and men try try to conquer me
but i destroy all
i used to fear myself until i dived inside
and discovered the endless possibilities
the multitude of worlds + beings my womb contains

i am an ocean
i have no master
and i will outlast humanity

sticky thighs + a nauseous stomach.

i remember middle school, and six am
waking up and wrapping a towel around myself and
waddling to the bathroom, only to sit
on the floor of the shower
and watch the red stains on my skin disappear

my mother knocks and sticks her head in the doorway
and clucks her tongue sighs compassionately
and i cry into my knees because my body feels weak
and my mind even more fragile

i was always taught to be disgusted by my biology
by the monthly cycle of “womanly plight”
i remember reading the feminine mystique
and how they discovered that “female hysteria” was not a
an act put on by woman, that the cramps between my hips
were real and my body was cursing eve for eating that
damn apple; (her red lips her wide eyes and white teeth aching
for a taste of evil; she tempts me she tempts me with her waist and wrists
and tears oh eve oh eve oh eve)

i remember sitting on balcony’s and watching the brooklyn greenery
and the sun turning pink on my pink skin
and i was hungry and ate all the bread
but the fist in my stomach was still clenched

boys told me my body was not clean
once i had sex with someone and bled on him and
i couldn’t help but apologise and tear up in embarrassment
because he could see me naked but he could not see me bleed
so i whisper to mother moon and she reminds me that i will sow
fields plant flowers and kiss the moon

i spent years being told that my body was unclean
because it talked to the moon like they were old friends
i fell in love with a witch and she told me the secrets of life
and now every time i bleed i bleed for me for teenage me for
twenty one year old me for thirty five year old me

i have galaxies between my legs i have everlasting love i have tears of
womyn before me who fought for me i have never ending dreams and
visions of glossy red skies and wispy clouds and sunshine lips inside of me expanding within
and i will never apoligize for them again

**note – i do not equate femininity/womynhood/gender etc to menstrual cycles/periods/vaginas/etc. this is merely my personal experience but it is in no way the norm nor was it written to exclude or insult anyone. genitalia does not equate to gender.**

My Feminist Manifesto.

Feminism is…

“The radical notion that women are people.”
“The belief in equality between the sexes.”
“The societal empowerment of women.”

You will hear various phrases, rewritten and reworded, when the question of “what feminism is” is poised.

These are the basics, these are the bare bones, of what this movement is.

You will hear crude, offensive, and vulgar renditions of this definition, spouted from men and women alike.

“Feminazis who don’t shave.”
“Bitches burning bras.”
“Prudes that need dick in their life.”

Ignore them. In their eyes, the advancement of women is a threat, is the demasculization of our modern society. The improvement of women is the vapid idea that the female “gender” will overtake the male. It is the idea that anyone who supports feminism, supports a matriarchy.

Feminism is…

The dismantlement of an abusive, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, outdated world.

The empowerment of black women, Asian women, Latino women, disabled women, gay/bi/pansexual women, transgender women, poor women, non binary individuals, women in college, rape and sexual/domestic/emotional abuse victims, Muslim women, single mothers, homeless women, military women, women in the service industry, women in politics, women sex workers, and so many more.

Looking beyond our white washed world to understand the battles that people and women of colour endure and how sexism impacts that.

Feminism is teaching children the importance of the word “NO” and “STOP.”

Teaching what consent is and why to never physically or emotionally impose yourself on another individual.

Constructing accommodations for physically disabled people.

The normalization of accepting help when having a mental illness — all mental illnesses.

Feminism is untangling ourselves from this perverse, dysfunctional, and irrelevant system that has since been in place since our births, that is always fighting to immobilize minorities, to stunt the growth of those forever beaten by the baseball bat of hate, corruption, and greed.

I am a feminist for so many reasons.

I am a feminist because I know that I am better then what I have been told I was since I unfolded myself from my mothers womb and took my first lung shaking breath.

We are better then what we have been told. We will fight until you hear it, see it, inhale it, and believe it.

This is my manifesto, my core, my being, my everyday life, my Bible, my truth, and my light.