TW: Rape/rape culture/harassment

seriouslyamerica:

BY JULIA MADDERA, Georgetown University ‘13

withmywatercolors:

thelittlekneesofbees:

To the first man, who I met by the Eiffel Tower my second week in Paris, when I didn’t know better.  Who took me out four times, who waved little red flags that I tried to ignore.  Like asking me outright if I was a virgin on the first date, like calling me five different pet names when I’d asked him not to throughout the second, like saying he’d heard that feminists were not real women during the third, like disappearing for a week and a half after the fourth.  Who, as it turns out, was not the bullet, but the careening fourteen-wheeler that I narrowly managed to dodge.  Who admitted that he hit the young woman that his mother was trying to force him to marry.  Who didn’t want to marry her because he believes in romantic love.  Who doesn’t see the contradiction in those two sentences.

To the guy in my medieval literature class, who lent me one of Camus’ plays and showed me around the library.  Who wants to use his French education not to escape to the West, but to go back to his third-world home country to teach at its eight-year-old university.  Who I admired until he asked me what my American boyfriend had thought about me coming to Paris, until he demanded to know why I didn’t have one (a boyfriend, that is), until he asked if it was required that I marry an American.  Who reached out and touched my earrings, without asking, the next time he saw me.  Who won’t take a hint. 

To the PhD student who tried to take me up to his apartment after a five minute conversation, when I had just wanted to get lunch, who said there’s a first time for everything.  Who told me that we were university students, living in a 21st century democracy, and that relations between men and women were different now, so what was I so scared of?  Who recoiled in shock when I told him that I had friends who’d been raped, and by other university students, at that.  Who does not have to think about rape on a daily basis.  Who insisted on paying for my lunch, because “it was a matter of honor.”  Who then physically prevented me from handing my money to the cashier, when I was trying to make it clear that this was not a date.  Who didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t want a boyfriend, five times.  Whose number I blocked the moment I stepped on the metro.  Who has called me three times since.  Who told me he wants to go into Senegalese politics.  Who, I can only hope, will listen to the women of his country better than he listened to me.

To the delivery guy on the red motorcycle idling outside of the apartments on Avenue de Porte de Vanves, the ones I walk past every day, who said bonsoir and who, because I said it in return to be polite, followed me to the metro as I walked, head twisted down, pretending that I didn’t understand the language I’ve studied for eight years.

To the two men Thursday night in le Marais, swaggering drunk toward me, ignoring the male friend standing by my side, who leered at my chest and slurred, “Bonsoir, comme tu es mignonne,” as I shoved past them, trying to sound angry, not afraid.  Who left me feeling fidgety and panicked, so when I took the night bus in the wrong direction and found myself alone with two other strange men at a bus stop at 2:30 A.M., I let the cab driver fleece me out of 25 euro just to take a taxi home.

To the group of teenage boys loitering on the corner by my apartment, who decided to sound a siren at my approach because I was wearing a knee-length dress and a bulky sweater.  Who made me regret forgoing tights because I had wanted to feel the spring air on my calves for once.  Who will never have to wear an itchy pair of pantyhose in their entire lives.  To whom I said nothing, because I still have to walk past that corner twice a day for the next three-and-a-half months, because there were five of them and one of me. 

To the three men standing on the corner of the periphery five minutes later when I was crossing the street.  To the one who motioned for his friends to turn and look at me, quick, and then left his wolf-whistle ringing in my ears, shame like sunburn covering my face.  Who didn’t care that it was broad daylight.  Who made me wish that I could swear a blue streak back in French, without my accent betraying that I am American, which is another word for “easy” here.

To the two men at sunset on the bridge by Saint Michel, in the middle of tourist central, who made skeeting noises at me, like a pair of sputtering mosquitoes, to get my attention.  Who laughed when I flipped them off, and who kept hissing at me anyway.  Who forced me to keep checking over my shoulder, all the way to the metro, to make sure that I wasn’t being followed.

But also to the French friend who blamed my problems with French men on my university in the northern suburbs, a Parisian synonym for emeutes, gang violence, and immigration.  Who insisted that if he brought me to his upper-crust private (white) university—where the French elite reproduces itself into perpetuity—I would meet nicer French guys.  Who forced me to defend the men who’d harassed me against his barely-veiled, racist critique.

And also to the American friend at home who nearly rolled his eyes as he half-listened to my stories, who said, “Oh god, it’s hard being so attractive, isn’t it?” as if I was being vain.  Who laughs and does not understand why I always duck out of the frame of photographs, who knows nothing of what my body means to me. 

And that’s just two months in Paris. 

To all the Italian men who made me wish I had dyed my hair black before studying in Florence, who kept me from going out dancing because I got sick of feeling them creeping up behind me, sneaking their hands around my waist (and lower) when I’d already said NO three times.

To the six-foot-something Georgetown student who prided himself on protecting the girls from being groped on the dance floor.  Who chose to write about the rape of the Sabine woman for that week’s assignment.  Who described the way her breast slipped free of her tunic when she fell, as if he was writing a porno, not a rape scene, who had the woman fall in love with her Roman rapist the next morning, after he spun her a tale of the coming glory of his country. Who said “in a fit of passion, she thrust herself upon his member” and was not joking.  Who ended the story with the titular character saying to her children that she had been raped, but only at first.

To the seventh-grade boy who told my younger sister that he could rape her, if he wanted to.

To the gang of twenty-five year-olds in the Jeep who hollered at her as they drove past, leering at her thirteen-year-old body dressed in sweat pants and a tank top.  Who made my sister, fearless on the soccer field and in the classroom and in the karate studio, run home crying. Who were the reason she became afraid to walk the dog by herself in our “safe, suburban” neighborhood.

To my father, who said, “What white male privilege?”  Who was not being ironic.

FAVORITE POST.

offwithitshead:

littleojibwe:zoezoloft:fuckyeahslampoems:hhallmarks:

Preach it.

This is why I am pro-choice. This is why I am a feminist. This is what I stand for.

Sonya Renee - What Women Deserve

Culturally-diversified biracial girl with a small diamond nose ring and a pretty smile poses besides the words

Women Deserve Better”.

and I almost let her non-threatening grin
begin to infiltrate my psyche
until I read the unlikely small print
at the bottom of the ad:
Sponsored by the US Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
and the Knights of Columbus

On a bus
in a city
with a population of 553,000,
4 teenage mothers on the bus with me,
1 Latina woman with 3 children under 3
and no signs of a daddy. 

One sixteen year old black girl
standing in 22-degree weather
with only a sweater
a book bag
and a bassinet,
with an infant that ain’t even four weeks yet
tell me that Yes ….
Women do deserve better.

Women deserve better
than public transportation rhetoric
from the same people who
won’t give that teenage mother
a ride to the next transit.
Won’t let you talk to their kids about safer sex
Have never had to listen as the door SLAMS
behind the man who adamantly says,
“That shit” ain’t his
leaving her to wonder how she’ll raise this kid.

Women deserve better
than the 300 dollars TANF and AFC
will provide that family of three
or the 6 dollar an hour job at KFC
with no benefits for her new baby
or the college degree she may never see
because you can’t have infants at the university

Women deserve better
than lip service paid for by politicians
who have no alternatives to abortion
though I am sure
right this moment one of their seventeen year old daughters
is sitting in a clinic lobby
sobbing quietly and anonymously
praying parents don’t find out
or will be waiting for mom to pick her up because research shows
that out-of-wedlock childbirth doesn’t look good on political polls and
Daddy ain’t having that.

Women deserve better
than backwards governmental policies
that don’t want to pay
for welfare for kids
or health care for kids
or child care for kids
Don’t want to pay living wages to working mothers,
Don’t want to make men who only want to be last night’s lovers
responsible for the semen they lay.

Flat out don’t want to pay for SHIT
but want to control the woman who’s having it.
Acting outraged at abortion.
Well I’m outraged
that they want us to believe
that they believe
that women deserve better.

The Vatican won’t prosecute pedophile priests
But I decide I’m not ready for motherhood
and it’s condemnation for me
These are the same people who won’t support
national condom distribution to prevent teenage pregnancy.
But women deserve better.

Women deserve better
than back-alley surgeries
that leave our wombs barren and empty.
Deserve better
than organizations bearing the name
of land-stealing racist rapists
funding million dollar campaigns on subway trains
with no money to give these women
while balding middle-aged white men
tell us what to do with our bodies
while they wage wars and kill other people’s babies

So maybe women deserve better
than propaganda and lies
to get into office
Propaganda and lies
to get into panties
to get out of court
to get out of paying child support

Get the fuck out of our decisions
and give us back our voice
Women do deserve better
Women deserve choice

Sonya Renee - What Women Deserve

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