Because this needed to happen…

I’ve been writing over the last few weeks. Little things, big things, things that make my hands tired and my eyes sleepy feeling. But there’s been no real push, no real motivation, no real pulse to any of the words. I wouldn’t say I’ve been going through the motions necessarily but I have definitely been a bit robotic. And then today, something was shared with me by a friend. Something that clutched my heart and squeezed. Something that brought tears to my eyes. I have moments where I’m moved to cry but this was different. They weren’t joyful or laughter filled. They were devastated. As a person who prides herself on her humor, I don’t delve to deeply into harder issues along the lines of politics, religion, parenting etc etc because who am I to voice my opinion when there’s an endless tide of them rolling constantly, sweeping foot prints and finger written names away like they were never there in the sand? But this, this thing, is not an opinion. Its not a comment, its not simply nonsensical speech patterns one uses when they want to drive a point home but aren’t particularly concerned about the outcome. No, this is rage. Bone deep, hard, irrational, uncompromising rage and I cannot be quiet about that. I cannot take a piece of tape and slap it across my lips, hoping the scream in the back of my throat is muffled. This anger has been mounting from the moment I realized what it was truly like to be a woman. I guess I caught on around age 11 or so. When I was told that I couldn’t play with the boys in P.E. because they were stronger and faster and I could get hurt. It hit harder once I got my first real bra at 13 and was told that I had to make sure I wore my shirts properly because I didn’t want to give boys the “wrong impression.” However, it didn’t slap me across my face, leaving a mark that can never be erased until I was 15 and a classmate of mine decided to put his hand between my legs while I was trying to cut through the lockers and walk to Spanish Block 4 because he’d heard from some guys around school that I “got down like that.” Misogyny. I knew then it existed. I couldn’t understand–being that my mind wasn’t focused on hormonal urges–why someone would listen to a rumor and act on it, why someone would mentally mark me enough of a whore that he’d physically touch me without any indication that I wanted the contact. I couldn’t understand why his friends then looked at me with disgust when he got suspended for his actions. I couldn’t understand why following that, the football team’s quarterback would pursue me relentlessly, constantly proclaiming how “sexy” I was and how much he “liked” me. I couldn’t understand why he’d then try to lure me into a locked room in the back of the school, his pants halfway pulled down, in an area where no one would’ve heard my screams should I not have taken off running right then. I couldn’t understand why when I told someone they looked  at me and asked, “Well what did you do to make him think you wanted that?”  But later, when I sat alone listening to my portable CD player, staring at the butterfly stickers on my lavender walls that held a poster of puppies and B2K, comprehension finally slid into place. “You can’t play with the boys because they’re bigger and faster and you may get hurt.” Misogyny. I knew then it existed. We live in a society where allowances are consistently made for the opposite sex. Where there seems to be loopholes and excuses for bad behavior. Where when a woman is beaten to unrecognizable conditions, the next statements are, “Well she had to have done something to make him do that to her,” and “That bitch is crazy. I know it. I can tell. She probably hit him first.” Those are references to the relationship of Chris Brown and Rihanna. Those are statements made by girls I knew in my senior class. We facilitate the continuous objectification of the female form. Not seeing it as a thing of beauty or something wonderfully made but something for the pleasure of others. The moment a man yells at you that you should be flattered he decided to stop and talk about the width or your ass, is the moment you begin to reconsider what you chose to wear that day. This is what we live with. This is what women have to endure. Unwanted compliments, touches, harassment, opinions on our bodies that we didn’t ask for because we’re pleased with what was God given. #YesAllWomen isn’t a hashtag for fun, for amusement, for light laughs and singing kumbaya. #YesAllWomen exists because if we remain voiceless, if we sit idly by and say nothing when we’ve been given a major outlet to do so, all we’ll continuously hear is, “You can’t play with the boys because they’re bigger and faster and you may get hurt.” Not all men are these awful twisted beings, not all men hurt or rape or abuse. But every woman has experienced what its like to be afraid to roll their garbage can around the front after dark. Every woman, has tugged at the bottom of her skirt because someone screamed after them about how gorgeous their thighs were. Every woman has had to tell a pursuer that she was in a relationship, gay or married just to get him to back off. No, not all men are these twisted awful beings. But #YesAllWomen have been hurt. Whether sexually, physically or verbally. This is why my rage is bone deep, hard, irrational and uncompromising. This is why I won’t slap tape over my mouth and hope the scream is muffled.

2 thoughts on “Because this needed to happen…

  1. Dear Nikki,
    I have just finished reading Beastly Desires and loved every word! You definitely have a new fan! I decided to peruse your website and happened upon this post. As a middle-aged, African-American woman I have certainly had my share of experiences with misogyny throughout my life. Unfortunately, even at this age, it hasn’t changed much. Thank you for your strength, imagination, and sense of humor.

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