Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

I Am A Woman

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September 26, 2013

Trigger warning: this post contains references to sexual assault and victim blaming. 

It was in the back pew of a church where I first learned the universal truth
That because I am a woman I am made to be raped, whether it’s with a wine bottle, or that thing between your legs, or even by a state sanctioned invasive medical procedure to tell me that I am not my own but a thing to be ruled and oppressed

A woman

I was taught through too close bodies and far too anxious hands that “no” means “yes” and “yes” means “whore”
I was told that I should be thankful because fat girls don’t get attention, especially black girls, and boy was I lucky

They threw words at me like bricks
“Situational” and “boys will be boys”
So when the lady in blue asked me “did you say no?” you can understand my confusion

Those too anxious hands had reached inside me and ripped out the words “I can’t believe you did that”
But the lady in blue asked again “Did you say no?”
Why couldn’t she or you or anyone see that it didn’t matter because I didn’t say “yes”?

Words seared into my memory, burned into my already scarred skin like a brand
Shouting “slut” and “prude” all at once
A beacon screaming “damaged goods” and “check baggage”

“But it felt good didn’t it?”

You see, my story wasn’t a tragedy because these jeans were a size 18 and these genes are too ethnic
I was at best a bitch and at worst a liar
Because what good Christian boy would be interested in the colored girl,
The girl who became a born-again atheist,
The girl that “turned” fag in college,

Or worse,
The girl who thought that maybe, just maybe, her breasts weren’t an open invitation for trash like him,
That her hips and thighs didn’t mean “please take me”,
Who thought the color of her skin was inconsequential to her desire for orgasm

Well let’s get one thing straight
I am a woman, fierce and a force to be reckoned with, more than a body, more than the blood that pools between my legs

I am a woman

More than a victim for your sob stories
And more than the secrets you sweep under your holy rug

They said I was bitter and selfish
And through my sweat and tears I made sure that they knew that it had nothing to do with what happened in the back pew of that church
And everything to do with that lady in blue asking if I’d said “no”,
With the judge asking what I was wearing,
With every person who has asked and will ask if my assault made me queer,
And with everyone who said “she’s just some bitch”

But a bitch with the vulva to grip patriarchy by the short and curlies and say “I am a woman”

You see, from the time we are children we are handfed lies
About the rape culture that we perpetuate through actions, words, and thought

Through concepts like ‘virginity’, created by men
Who believed themselves so important that they could fundamentally change my worth as a person,
Jokes about ‘not dropping the soap’
Because we’d rather use rape as punchline
Than face the reality that it has nothing to do with what gender you are

We are tricked into believing that rapists care whether you like men or women,
What you do on your knees,
Whether your chastity belt is made of steel or tin foil,
Whether you wear a hijab or a bindi
But rapists can’t even understand the word “no”

I am a woman, tired of having to look over my shoulder as I walk home at night
I am a woman, pissed that a group of old white, heteronormative, upper class men will redefine rape to benefit their warped political agenda
I am a woman who dares to join in the revolution,
Because I am more than a uterus,
More than a demographic,
More than my attacker’s victim
I am a woman

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