for every hand extended
another lies in wait
keep your eye on that one
anticipate”
— ani difranco, "anticipate"

 

Recently, a man tied a woman to a tree along a local hiking trail and left her there.

 

A MAN TIED A WOMAN TO A TREE AND LEFT HER THERE.

 

This happened.  This is the state of things.

This got me to thinking about unwanted male attention.  

This got me to thinking about how I spend many moments of my day ... every goddamn day ... deflecting - like a fucking superhero, like that's the usual - like that's the burden I get to bear as a woman, alive, in this time and place.  

This got me to thinking about how I recently asked for advocacy in the form of communication from my employer and received quite the opposite.  

This got me to thinking about all of the times I've heard from men that we women are bossy, bitchy, and demanding.  

This got me to thinking about a very particular moment in my life as a young girl when my boundaries were violated in the most personal way.  

This got me to thinking about my own mother's response to that story when I told her several years later.  Inconsequential.  Sad, but the rage was absent.  The rage I would have expressed as a mother was missing from the conversation.

This got me to thinking about the transgender community and the level of personal violation they must be feeling as they rage and rally and work to change the legislation of hate that's happened here in North Carolina.  

This got me to thinking about my friend who recently gave birth to a beautiful child in her home.  This got me to recalling the growling and howling and screaming and chanting that happened as she worked through the activity of birth - as she felt, processed and expressed her feminine power in an extremely vulnerable and personal way.  

This got me to thinking about how us women have precious few moment in life when we're even "allowed" to make those kinds of sounds ... Many women don't even get to experience it during birth.  Instead, we've even been placated, fear-mongered, medicated and talked out of that profoundly powerful experience of coming into motherhood.  Coming into this new identity with all of our flags and shit flying.  

We've been placated, medicated, violated, talked-out-of, belittled, undervalued, treated as playthings - many of us - our entire lives...

And the rage bubbles up.

And the memories of all of the rage, un-felt, bubble up.

And the tears.  And the fury.  And the desire to growl at someone comes fast and strong.  Along with the feeling of gurgling in my belly and a desire to punch something.  It is too much.  It is not okay.  

And the Ani DiFranco gets louder:

 

We would play 'hide and go seek'
Territory would be the whole block
Sometimes the older boys when they'd find you
They wouldn't want to tag you, they'd just want to talk

They'd say "What would you do for a quarter?
Come on, we don't have that much time

And I'd think a minute and I'd say
"Ok, give me the quarter first, fine"

This time you win
Here we go again!
And I would feel dirty and I would feel ashamed
But I wouldn't let it stop my game

I remember my first trip alone on the Greyhound bus
A man who put his hands on me as soon as night fell
And I remember when I was leavin' how excited I was
And I remember when I arrived, I didn't feel so well

I remember the teacher at school got me so sick and scared
I went into the bathroom and threw up in my hair
And I could go on, but you know, it just gets worse
And I could probably stop there

Girl, next time he wants to know
What your problem is
Girl, next time he wants to know
Where the anger comes from
Just tell him this time the problem's his
Tell him the anger just comes
It just comes.

 

Systematic, persistent, divisive, penetrating, calculated oppression is alive and thriving.  FUCK.  And FUCK all of that.  

It's a power dynamic.

My comfort lies in the power of my CHOICES.

The power of my voice, my response, my breath, my relentless pursuit of Love.  

Love, who doesn't always look pretty.  Love, who doesn't always say "yes."  

Love: teeth bared, raging, growling, protective, angry as fuck, intensely powerful, radiant heat, hot breath, fierce.

Love as an advocate ... as THE advocate ... the FIERCE advocate.

Love that encircles all of the tender parts and guards them ferociously.  

Love that invites us to treat each other as Holy.  Love that invites us to treat each other as Sacred.

NOT as Playthings.

 

 

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