Battle Scars

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 15:34 -- brueckc

I am 12 years old

Im sitting in my sixth grade science class

During our health unit

And giggling with my friends

About the “magical” goings-on

In our “young and changing” bodies

“I thought we peed out of our vagina?”

“Have you gotten your period yet?”

“What the heck is a tampon?”

It’s all fun and new

Until the subject changes

And the next lessons we are taught

Will be shoved down our throats

From that point on

Don’t leave your drink unattended

Don’t accept any drinks from anybody

Don’t let your friends go off alone

Don’t let anybody get you alone

Girls gotta stick together, right?

Girls gotta protect each other, right?

And while the boys next door to us

Learned about their

Anatomical and hormonal changes

We learned survival

 

Girls gotta stick together, right?

Girls gotta protect each other, right?

It’s a silent fight, one the men will never be able to understand

Because they cannot see it

Every female is brought into this world

With an ancient, instinctual understanding

The fear each of us knows all too well

Etched

Like Hieroglyphics deep within our bones

Invisible battle scars none of us asked to fight for

 

I am 14 years old

I am sitting in my ninth grade art class

And amid doodlings and water color paintings

Of flowers and sunsets

The boy next to me

Who must feel all too comfortable with me

Slides his hand up my thigh under the table

Discreetly,

So as not to draw attention to, or embarass him

I move his hand away

He moves it back

He thinks this is funny

I tell him to stop

Im laughing, of course

Because I don’t want him to think  

I’m mad

Don’t want him to think I’m offended

Don’t want him to think I’m a prude

Because I’m not

I’m not

When he looks sad I tell him sorry

But I am not sorry

Because when I look through that sketchbook

I do not only see the images of my paintings and doodles

But also that of unwelcome hands on my body

 

Invisible battle scars none of us asked to fight for

 

I am 16 years old

I can’t tell the difference between a news article

And porn

“Young girl brutally gang raped”

It was porn

The first time young people will see a naked body

Will be on a computer screen

While they’re learning sex

In all the wrong ways

In a popular comedy show

A girl is getting advice for a first date

They say

“Order something expensive so he knows you’re worth it...

But you’ll have to put out”

As if sex

Is something to be owed

Now I know it was only a joke

But there will be young people who see that

And form expectations

For things they think they deserve

You don’t deserve it

You aren’t owed anything

“No”

Does not mean

“Try harder”

It does not mean

I’m playing hard to get

It does not mean

“Convince me”

 

I am 17 years old

“No”

Does not mean convince me

I said no

I said no

I said no

It was like he couldn’t hear me

 

Invisible battle scars none of us asked to fight for

 

I am 18 years old

A male coworker

Who always somewhat jokingly flirted with me

And whom I considered a friend

Was talking about me in the breakroom

With some of my other friends

He described me as

“An angel

You just want to rape”

And I think of how easily those words must have fallen from his lips

And how he must have laughed

And I don’t wonder

How sexual assault and rape

Are such a problem no one will acknowledge

When I hear this casual rhetoric

 

I cannot go to the local mall alone

When I am in the parking lot at work late at night

And I make eye contact with a man

My heart does not stop racing until

They are in their car a half a mile down the road

Within my first month of college

The police department sent out

Email reports of two separate sexual assaults

A male customer at work talks to me constantly

He knows my name

He knows my schedule

He asks me what time I get off

What if he’s waiting for me when I leave?

Should I go out the back door?

There’s nobody out right now I can’t go out there alone

I have my pepper spray I’ll be okay

Of course none of these things happened

But this is not always the case

Since childhood

I have

We have

Been fed horror story

After horror story

Always with warnings to be

Smarter

Safer

More prepared

Than that

“Poor girl”

 

It’s a silent fight,

One the men will never be able to understand because they cannot see it

Invisible battle scars none of us asked to fight for

 

And believe me,

I know that this is in no way

A depiction of all men

I am sure you as nice a guy as you claim to be

But you can’t blame me for this

“Paranoia” or “overly-cautious”

Mindset

When I was taught

From age 12 to be wary of your actions

And you weren’t taught anything

 

Poetry Slam: 
This poem is about: 
Me
Our world

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