Tired of watching my back and my vagina—But not gonna stop

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The day after the election, I was inconsolable, like many people. I couldn’t come to terms with what happened. And so I wrote. I wrote something that I didn’t post because it was not who I want to be. Yes, it was how I felt, and who I was at that moment, but it is not who I am. It was a very broken piece, filled with sadness, and not much else. Just mourning.

But now, I want to add my voice to all the others that are protesting the election’s results. And the absolute absurdity of seeing a sexual predator every time someone references the current President of the United States. And that this predator uses hateful rhetoric about basically anyone who is not white. As a woman of mixed race, I wonder what my experience would be in this future America if I looked more like my mother, who is very dark brown. Language is incredibly powerful, words can slowly be integrated into everyday vernacular, slowly chipping away at civil rights. It’s a trickle down process, but it happens. History has proven this time and again.

Because my skin is so light, I don’t feel comfortable speaking as a person of color. What I can speak to is my past, which was a lovely childhood marred by a few occasions of sexual abuse. And how that affected me forever after and how I maneuvered in the world after those moments.

I feel like I’ve been watching my back for years, or to be more accurate, my vagina. Since the age of 3 or 4 (not sure how old I actually was when the abuse began and ended), I’ve suffered the male gaze, endured the comments, and pretended not to notice. I was about 5 when I first saw punk rockers in a McDonalds with my mom. They wore all black, had dyed hair—one red, one green, one blue. One had a mohawk. At least one of them was female, and I remember being scared of them all, and thought, no one will mess with them. But all they did was politely order some food and leave. I was about 12 when I met two goth skaters who were polite and I never saw them again (they were friends of a friend). That was shortly after I had developed breasts and men were checking me out. Around that time, I innocently wore a hand me down short skirt and old dudes leered at me. My mother pointed it out and I was sickened and wanted to cover up immediately.

That’s when I walked down the path to darkness. That’s when I slowly started picking out black clothes from shops. That’s why I bought oversized clothing. That’s why I started listening to dark music by musicians who couldn’t get the girl. I didn’t want to get got. I wanted to live in a world where I was left alone. No one bothered me. No one saw me.

And now I live in a world where I feel more visible than ever before. It goes both ways. I can see the utter ugliness that exists outside my little bubble. Social media has allowed women to share over and over, the abuse they encounter and endured. It allowed me to know that I was not alone.

The day after the election, I was filled with despair. To see a known sexual predator makes me wince and I have to see him every time I go online, see a newspaper, a magazine, the news. It makes me wince with discomfort and anger. But now, I’m filled with anger and hope. I attended a children’s art show entitled “Gurl Please, Gender Bye!” and the art was made by children ages 5–12.** What we have here, what we are experiencing, is truly a time period that will change. With protesting, with authors and journalists, with hope, with children.

Trust me when I say I understand that I live in the Bay Area, and what I experience is not a struggle. Childhood abuse was not good. But just being a weird goth straight-ish chick isn’t what I would describe as unsafe. What is dangerous is happening in other places, to other women, to people of color, to LGBTQ people.

So writers, please continue writing. Don’t be silent. And I apologize if I lean too heavily now because I don’t know what to say. With your strength, my words will come.

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This photo was taken the day after the election, after a day of crying. Note: I asked my friend for a masculine version of a feminine cut. It’s growing out quite nicely. I’m looking like like a hung over dude, so there’s that.

 

 

* I unintentionally live a life of privilege because I look more like my father than my mother.

** This art show was curated by Ammo Eisu at CASA, with a generous grant by SOMArts Cultural Center