I wasn’t going to participate in this. It felt too much like a wave and not enough like an opportunity to bear witness. I was disparaging and afraid. No hashtag could paint anything I hadn’t attended in life, with others, and in imagination. I inhabit a certain body and this body carries certain truths and my choice in survival relies on knowing the depths of those truths. Many of the truths are terrifying— jagged and drooling, clawing and intending on death.
Why are silence and inaction still able to contend with reason? That’s where I stop. What is reasonable is to tell the truth. Telling the truth is an option available to me. It wasn’t always so and it might not always be so. But it is right now.
Here is one.
I have been rubbed against, groped, pushed, flashed, coerced, grabbed, undressed, abused, sat upon, laid upon, humiliated, manipulated, threatened, frightened, untucked, forced into, and stolen. They have happened often, some more than others. Some are calcified tumors collecting in my gut. Some are disassociated flashes. Some assemble on my lips and instruct me on how to smile. All have been committed by the hands of men.
I am so afraid of accusation. It has kept me silent. To point my finger away from myself and finally identify the men who have tried to rob me of my place on this Earth. My body is worth space. I’m not about to lie on myself. Not again. Men have been the culprits, are the culprits, are the daemons of this iniquity.
I am afraid to name names— men I’ve known, men I know, and men that make me a target. They have histories— always awarded that multiplicity. My attackers are men and Men. Common and explosive.
Because my attackers are men… because I am a woman, and because I am young, and because I am sick, and because I am Black…my testimony, my recollection is not of much value. My identities assemble into a potent invisible potion— a frame and a voice, separate and different. Frames like mine aren’t born to be believed. Voices like mine are only admitted purpose by way of Man’s discretion— to service, to remit, to keep secret, to assume shapes, to use. Bodies like mine are lived through.
When men complete their wants through the flesh of someone else, they are praying to their destroyer of worlds. Men cannot tell the difference between prayer and chaos.