because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

SHE REMEMBERED WHO SHE WAS AND THE GAME CHANGED

Posted on
Prints available at www.rasjacobson.store

 

‘When boys hit girls, it means they like you,” she told me,

and it all went downhill from there

because slowly

over time, i learned my place

much as any dog learns the rules

i did what was expected every time

reached inside his pants pocket to retrieve the money he owed me for babysitting,

let him touch my legs in exchange for a few extra bonus points on a quiz

gave him that blowjob so he wouldn’t break up with me.

I didn’t know what to say or do back then,

when he told me he’d put something in my drink to help me relax

and another he pushed himself inside me even though i told him to stop.

and years later

when he said the length of my skirt gave him the impression i wanted to have sex

and he groped me in the kitchen while his wife was in the other room

and he sent pictures of his penis before i knew his last name

i automatically lowered my eyes, like a puppy who just shit the rug

as if i’d done something wrong

because i accepted all of this as normal

until

another he

different from all the hes before him

brought me to an isolated place by the water

a romantic gesture, i thought

until he casually mentioned

his ex girlfriend’s body

had been found

in the exact spot

we were sitting

and i knew he was going to kill me, too

unless i figured something out pretty damn fast

and in that moment

I remembered

who I was

& the game changed.

I realized

my silence made me complicit

made the hes think

I was saying yes when what I meant was

No.

Hell no.

FUCK NO.

&

GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!

so I fought for my

self

in a way that I never did before

because my pain should not be linked to anyone’s pleasure

(especially not his)

and what the hell kind of madness is that?

steeping our daughters

in shame

from the moment we are old enough to walk.

Cross your legs, that’s not ladylike, girls don’t act that way, stop embarrassing me.

We take on the burden of being a woman, the guilt

we carry when our hips curve too much, when our skin

is too soft, when our eyes hold too much light

and our voice is louder than the softest timber. We teach our daughters

the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they hold themselves

are the things that could offend the kind of men who will violate them.

We teach them to gussy up and subdue themselves

until they fit into a box.

And then we teach them that girls who do not fit in that box

are the kind of girls that men like to hurt.

We use words like slut, and whore and tramp to teach our daughters

what could happen to them if they are too wild, too free, too spirited.

We teach them to treat their bodies like a crime scene before a crime has even been committed.

We teach them we live in the best country, a fair country, a country with equal rights for all.

We teach them they are lucky to live with such wonderful freedoms.

We teach them this is Truth.

But these are lies.

And none of it is harmless.

And all of it leaves a mark.

 

• • •

I was brought up to believe that men and women are equal, that all of us are as strong or as weak as we believe ourselves to be. The thing is it’s not true. Not yet, anyways. As women, it’s easy to feel powerless. (Nearly all of our institutions are designed to make us feel that way.)

It’s hard standing up on the daily for what is right. It’s downright exhausting.

Women, remember who you are are.

Who you were born to be.

Stop being a doormat.

Speak up.

And keep speaking up until you get what you want.

What were you brought up to believe about men and women? If you leave a comment, I promise I’ll respond to you. Eventually.