For The People

This is a Man’s World

It happens like this. You’re twelve. You fantasize about one day drinking wine. Maybe even smoking cigarettes. In your fantasy the boy drives the car and you’re riding shotgun. You watch movies where the girl bites the apple and falls into a deep sleep. The boy comes along, and he kisses her out of her coma. You think that’s how things of love, lust and desire work. You have nothing else to work with. You don’t think he should’ve asked her first. You’re twelve, you don’t know the word consent.

You get your period and your mother says you can’t do the splits anymore. Tampons are for whores. You can’t climb trees. You love climbing up the apricot tree in your front yard. Because from there you can climb up the roof. When you sit on the roof, the sky opens up before you in shades of light blue and orange and specks of white. Sometimes you’re up there thinking. Sometimes you’re quiet. Sometimes you pray up there. You say Father God, because He’s powerful and therefore a man. You love how big it all seems. How limitless. You think, this must be what it feels like to be grown and free. But your mother makes you get down from there. Boys will look up your shorts. And if they become compelled to touch you, it will be your fault. It takes a second to put it in and nine months to take it out. You don’t think that society teaches “don’t get raped” rather than “don’t rape”. You don’t have the words to say it. But you wish you were born a boy. Then you could sit on your roof and watch your sun set.

Then you turn thirteen and one day a teacher locks you in the classroom and says what would you do if I kissed you right now. You jump out the window and get detention for behaving like a hooligan. No, this is very unlike you. You’ve been a good girl till right then. You tell the head master what your teacher had said, he says girls should stop being so sensitive.

Boys buy you chocolates that say “Be mine” but you read The alchemist. You know that love can only exist without ownership.

When you’re fifteen your friend goes to a party. They drink wine and smoke cigarettes. She wakes up naked, in bed with a boy she’s known all her life. They go to church together.  She doesn’t remember how she got there. She cries. The doctor asks if the boy was drunk too. He says she wanted it. You think it’s ridiculous that the boy being drunk excuses his behaviour but the girl being drunk excuses anything done to her.

You go on a date on Valentine’s Day and the boy says his biggest fear is going to jail. Do you know what they’ll do to someone like me? You roll your eyes and say it’s male privilege. You have to think about the possibility of getting raped everywhere you go. He says you overthink life. You’ll end up alone. The thought of ending up alone comforts you. He goes on to say that periods freak him out. Pity, you say, your mother was probably praying to her hers, but got you instead. The date ends on a sour note.

You go home and think that this is a man’s world. But promise yourself if you’re ever Cinderella and the Prince pulls your arm and says “stay” you’ll tell him to get one thing straight. No one tells you what to do.

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