As the theme for this week is raising hell, I wrote you a poem that is both on topic and an act that requires me to call on my courage and be both brave and afraid at the same time. I hope you enjoy it.
I’m resigning today.
Resigning from the job I was given to make you happy and comfortable.
I don’t remember even applying for this job, but nonetheless, it was handed to me.
Somehow, somewhere, a story was bestowed on me and my fellow females.
That we have a job that is an ever so important one.
That job has many rules and responsibilities.
A short list of the musts:
We must smile.
We must be pretty.
We must be thin.
We must be compliant.
And the must nots:
We must not get angry.
We must not age disgracefully (whatever that means)
We must not use foul language.
We must not show too much cleavage.
We must not share our opinions too forcefully and if we do dare share them, they should not offend anyone nor be disagreeable.
And if we MUST say no, we must explain ourselves, apologize, and do whatever deems necessary to make the other person feel as comfortable as possible with our no.
As I turn in my resignation, I have three words for your rules.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Because I’m done.
These rules have been for you.
These rules have morphed me into an unrecognizable rag doll that serves no purpose except to make you comfortable.
These are not my rules.
World, do you know what abiding by these rules has done?
Let me paint you a picture.
When I was 16 I was pinned down on a beach, sand in my hair,
While a boy I was on a date with forced open my pants,
Shoving his hand down my underwear.
When I told him no and to get off of me,
He said he thought that’s what I wanted because I had let him kiss me.
I liked him and with his obvious frustration I felt guilty and wrong for my decision to say no.
He took me home and on Monday at school, I heard the boys laughing and “prick tease!”–
Yelled through the hallways at me while people stopped and stared and whispered.
I learned that day if I didn’t follow the rules, if I dared say no, there would be consequences.
When I was 17 my boyfriend shoved my head down to his crotch as I suppose–
An unspoken invitation to give him a blow job.
I wanted to say no.
I hated him while I did it.
But, I didn’t want him to be mad at me.
I knew how it went if I said no.
When I was 20, I found myself laying under a guy I barely knew,
Saying the word “no” over and over again as he continued to undress me.
I could have pushed him off me,
I could have said no more forcefully,
But having known the rules, I worried he would get angry,
Call me names, or worse, fight back.
So, I relented to his advances and had sex with him even though every being in my body screamed no.
Even though I acted like I enjoyed it, hoping that would help move things along.
Even though I hated myself while it happened.
All in order to make him comfortable and follow the rules.
When it was over I sobbed and ran to a pay phone to call someone to pick me up.
I knew how it went if I said no.
This went on for another decade.
Saying yes to men I didn’t want to,
All in order to please them,
To make them comfortable,
To put their feelings before mine.
To not emasculate them,
To allow them to use my body as they so pleased.
And this isn’t just about sex.
It’s about everything we’re asked to do.
We all fist pump when we hear “No is a complete sentence”,
But how many of us do it.
When we're faced with the choices of saying no with no explanation,
Or saying no while apologizing,
Thinking how we’ll make it up to them,
Over-explaining our reasons,
And praying to god they don’t get mad at us or have their feelings hurt… we chose the latter.
Because according to the rules: Just a no isn’t good enough.
According to the rules, Only bitches say no as a complete sentence.
I’d rather be a bitch than go against who I am as a human being.
I’d rather be a bitch than let someone shove my face into their dick.
I’d rather be a bitch than give in to sex while tears stream down my face and into my ears, Staring at the ceiling, counting to 100 hoping he finishes quickly.
My daughter is 7 years old.
No one told me when I was growing up that I didn’t have to follow those rules.
No one told me that I could grow up and say no.
Without making up for it.
And I’ll be honest, World,
It feels weird walking away from this job.
I’ve had it my whole life and it feels like trying to wipe my skin off.
Something that’s a part of me that I’m terrified to let go of but if I keep this job
I’ll go crazy.
So, with that, I resign.
Resources for this podcast:
Episode 183: You Are Magnificent And How To Stop Feeling Like Shit