The Glass Ceiling is Alive and Well

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When I was in third grade,

My dad got me confused with my brother and called me “son,”

And I didn't think that much of it, to be honest.

In the sixth grade my mom told me that the average woman makes

77 cents for every dollar that a man does, and in seventh grade Phoebe Prince died.

I remember the national news headlines:

“Pretty New Girl Dies After Ruthless Cyber Bullying Taken Too Far.”

Now, what’s wrong with that? Yeah, she was pretty. She was… gorgeous.

But what if she hadn’t been? Would the headlines have read

“Unfortunately Unattractive Youth Dead”?

Would they have lied, talked instead about the twinkle in her eye while they

Deftly ignored her blemished skin? Thankfully, she was hot,

So she saved broadcasters a lot of hard work trying to polish up the titles of their stories.

Why is it that we have a preoccupation with beauty?

Why is it that search results for Tyler Clementi only involve the court cases by which 

Dharun Ravi was convicted, but when you look up Amanda Todd,

The first result contains the word “flash”?

This is a male machination, because lesbians sure as hell don’t place a 

Premium on the amount of makeup I wear.

Don’t get me wrong —I love men.

I’ve broken my jaw a thousand times in impossible smiles,

Stretched my salted heart out before the merciless sun to dry,

Pierced my heart to bleed all the crooked reasons why I fall in love

With the very people who place me in social bondage. 

I love men. I love him —

HE, who was confusing as Hell but tasted like Heaven

HE, who I fell in love with on Valentine’s Day but broke my heart the very next day,

HE who took me in an alleyway

HE HE HE HE HE

My entire existence an endless succession of male genitals flashing before my eyes;

So much HE that his manstink flooded my senses,

So much manstink that it rose as if a miasma, a phantom, 

A ghost fed on male privilege and rape culture,

So large that it consumes me and covers my womanbody — 

My womanbody, my girlbody, my six-year-old-tied-to-a-chairbody, 

So unholy that it chokes my ovaries and makes me forget what it is to be a woman,

So foul that like Lady Macbeth I am unsexed here and now,

Returned to 4th grade prison classrooms before this scared child first bled with the moon,

So much HE and HIM until one day, there was a SHE.

You may “ooh”; I call that male privilege.

Male privilege, I say, 

Is knowing that woman-on-woman pornography is made exclusively for the pleasure of men,

Is teaching our daughters not to get raped rather than telling our sons to ask for consent,

It is rape with a dress on, rape without a dress on,

It is mourning the deaths of the Steubenville rapists’ lives,

It is ugly; it is a coward; it is taking over my life;

And I try to tell myself that this is all an illusion,

That I must be brave, and strong, and that I must fight,

But you and I both know that women every day are taken without consent just because their 

Clothes seem “provocative,”

Because of the way their ponytails swish as they walk,

Because their second X Chromosome gave them hips and breasts and butts and

Men don’t seem to Know that I am not

Something To Conquer but Someone To Love.

I live in a world where “feminist” is thrown around like an insult.

I am sick of being made to feel ashamed for wanting to be treated like a human.

There are days when I’m afraid to leave the house.

Now, I know that some people are attracted to a sense of danger —

And what’s more dangerous than fearing for my life as I walk down the street?

Now THAT shit is sexy. But it isn’t.

Why must my worth as a person be determined by my attractiveness to men?

Why is it that I doubt myself when I don’t get honked at when I walk down the street?

Why the hell have I gotten used to being honked at? Why do guys think it’s okay to honk at me?

Why do I get called a “moody bitch” when I complain about being honked at?

My entire life has been plagued by double standards and I’m 

Sick of feeling like a second-class citizen

Every time I walk down the street or turn on the television.

I want to live in a world where for every Hooters

There is a restaurant called Cajones where men prance around in speedos;

A world where I make that extra 23 cents,

Because when my brother makes his first million I won’t yet have 800 thousand.

 

When I was in third grade, 

My dad got me confused with my brother and called me “son.”

I think about it all the time.

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