Woman You Are Not Free

You may have been a child, so young you don't remember your age, when you got your first unwanted male advance. You fought back, won, ran. You're proud of that moment, when you slapped him away.

You may have been a little bit older than that day, when a boy your age tried to grab you, mimicking the way his father treated his mother, trying to take control. You cried because he grabbed your arms so hard, tried to pin you down. You told nobody; who wants a fussy girl for a daughter?

And then you are a teen and you are happy to be treated as an object, a pretty one at least. They let you be a part of the group. Their attention makes you feel valuable. You're too young to know that value comes from within.

At 19 you tell a man in your bed to stop. You hear: "Most guys in this university wouldn't have stopped." And you know he is right. You know you are grateful for his human decency.

Still at 19 you cry because you don't like sex as much as you should. You cry because you are not liberated. You cry because you have not been told how to be sexual, yet all they see is sex. You thought it would be natural, it would come easily. But you are scared. You do not feel like a real woman.

At 21, a man decides it is his right to grab you, from your crotch to your ass, while you are relatively sober in a nightclub. Nightclubs become a nightmare. They grab you, they pull you aside, do you want a drink? Bitch, why not? You're so full of yourself.

You just didn't want their hands on your body. You didn't want a drink. You're sorry, you say. You know it takes a lot for a man to approach a woman, and you're sorry he was rejected. Poor guy.

You're almost 22, at a fancy party and you have the beginnings of anxiety disorder. You drink too much because you feel anxious about wearing this dress and the heels and the make up. Your only friend disappears and there's a man and he pounces. He pounces and you don't react, you're too drunk. You're just an object.

You're 23, and you're walking your dog at night. A man grabs your arm, you freeze. If only you were as reactionary as when this tale started; if only you remembered how to fight and get away. He whispers filth in your ear. You cannot hear because there is blood pounding in it. He lets go. You walk home and you cry.

You're 24, not sober and living with sorrow. A man sees you sitting alone, how dare you? He forces his face on yours, you gently deflect. Bitch, why are you upset?

And then you start living your life in measurements: you measure your skirt's length and you measure how many drinks you are having. You measure your words in front of men, lest they think you can be taken advantage of. You measure how much you've changed because you want to be invisible. You do not want to deal with unwanted attention.

Woman, you are not free.

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