Sunday, March 13, 2016

Attempts at Feminism: A Series of Missteps

(Trigger warning: sexual assault)

Attempts at Feminism: A Series of Missteps

When the hair stylist is washing my hair, she asks me if the proposed cut has been approved
by my man. 
I ask "what" so many times, she changes her wording.
"Do you have a man, or are you trying to get one?" she asks.
"Woman," I say, quietly, inaudible under the running water.
"What?" she asks.
"Hmmm?" I say.
We fall into silence.
She quietly lathers my hair. 

I tell my boss I am going to the conference based in feminist psychology
because I believe it essential to my understanding of
power, privilege, oppression, social justice, public policy, activism...
and she laughs.
I watch the only black woman in the room get told,
"I understood what everyone was saying until you started speaking."
Meanwhile, our white, male boss hides cameras in the ceiling
and no one says a word.
Meanwhile, a client tells me she doesn't want those people around her son --
and I tell my boss I'm gay, so this conflict poses a problem.
She asks me to consider what would happen if the newspaper 
found out the institution has gay employees,
wonders aloud if the institute would support me,
or if somehow
my job could be on the line.
It has taken 7 months
and a new job to poem that.
There is fear
living in those words.

It's March.
A month when, already,
the smell of rain and
unseasonably warm days leave memories of
fingerprints blossoming purple like crocus around my arm.
My words come slow and
uneasy.  This week, I bite my lip.
It bleeds,
and I can smell him.
March brings a heaviness in my body that is not physical
or spiritual
but is just a thing that lives with me these days
so familiar
I could cradle it
if I loved it enough.
But I don't.

My mother gave my father a collection of every Cosby Show DVD for Christmas.
She said, "I just don't believe the man is guilty,"
told me I was "too sensitive" when I tried to argue,
and countered that I didn't understand because I
"didn't grow up watching the show."
My father then presented four rape alarms he had wrapped as he has
every year since the year I was raped.
My two sisters, mother and I open them under the tree between the
new pajamas and Amazon gift cards,
and I now
have five fucking key chain rape alarms
and an admonishment to "use them,
but don't rely on them and put yourself
in dangerous situations."
We've never had a conversation about what happened,
but when I hold the alarm between my fingers
as I walk to my car at night
I think, this.
This must be
what love feels like.

1 comment:

  1. This made my stomach hurt. I wish I could give you a big hug. I've learned there's not much I can do about insensitive assholes.