An Open Letter to All the Mr. [something big and important, probably married]s, Regarding Your Emails

Open Letter

Thanks for the email, but you don’t have to be embarassed by my sexuality.  I know you feel the need to save your praises for private because you’re a big shot/celebrity/lawyer/news anchor/executive something/father, or whatever other identifier raises your importance above mine, but there’s really no need to worry.

I am not a predator, try not to think yourself so persecuted.

I know I wrote a piece about sexuality and inequality and my broken disappointed heart and used words like pussy and dick (and maybe next time I won’t stop short of using anal), but those are not things to be ashamed of.  I am sorry you feel the need to read my words with the lights out.

Maybe you want to hide in the privacy because single girls have been known to wander (this is a warning from your mother) but I am not here to scandalize you.

You don’t have to be ashamed to spread my words (which are not my legs), or to be seen talking to me.  After all, your intentions are entirely innocent, no?

So while I appreciate the email, about how much you enjoyed my writing, you should have just ended it there.  It’s flattering to know that my appearance pleases you and how you think I’m going to find a great guy some day, but you should know that I have already found one.  Several actually.  And that my having of them probably won’t fit with your idea of how my life should be.  But that’s not my problem (and I’m not even entirely clear on why it’s yours).

I don’t want to get married.

I don’t want to find the one.

I want the many.

I want to hear a hundred stories.  I want to lay down with men who change the composition of my surroundings.  I want to know the world.  I am greedy but not selfish.  I want more than my hands can hold, and so I stand facing it all with open fingers.  I want to kiss and laugh and love and fuck and be my true self and rip my heart open and spill it on the floor for all to see.

I don’t want a gated community, a picket fence, a sofa to sink into.  It is already hard enough to stand up tall everyday, I don’t need more things hemming me in.

So, thanks for the email, but it’s not necessary.

You see, I don’t need you to save me.  And I know for sure that I cannot save you.

I know I posted that thing about the boy who reacted poorly to my large frame and the things about men who try to woo me with discussions of my body.  I know I got angry and frustrated and lost faith in humanity for a second but I’m only human.  I am an elastic woman and likely to bounce back.

So, I know you got to see the flaws and the heartache and the sadness, and maybe that stirred something in you but none of these things mean I need you to save me.  They are not about you.  You already chose your life and this private weirdness that you’re creating with your power and your secrecy is affecting my balance (so you should stop).

I’m standing up here, spine only partially made of jelly.  Mostly strong enough and not nearly as alone as you might think (and frankly, my friends and family all feel a little jilted that you’ve minimized their roles so emphatically in my life as to think that one singular man could replace them entirely).

So thanks for the email, but your secrecy has splinters.

Words that should be innocent enough off the tongue, show up dressed in your issues and your shame and your inadequacies.  Your email is a time bomb and frankly, sir, I don’t need your bullshit.

So unless you’re ready to stand up tall and stop acting like my sexuality is an affront to your marriage, your personhood, and your fucking existence…unless you’re ready to stop pretending that my comfort and expression is a threat to your way of being…unless you’re ready to stop imposing your danger onto me…

I would just as soon prefer that you kept your praises in your pockets and your heavy words out of my box.

Bullying: Who Is Really Responsible?

Teen girl commits suicide to escape bullying.  This is the headline; over and over and over again.  Sometimes it involves a rape.  Sometimes it involves nudity on the internet.  Sometimes it involves nothing but a story.  Always though, it involves is a girl pushed so far beyond her emotional limits that she breaks.

We, of course, look to the bullies.  Who harassed the girl?  Who showed the video?  Who spread the words?  Who shared the pictures and made it all go viral?  Where were the authorities?  The school officials?  The parents?  Who is responsible?

 

And every single time we miss the point.

 

We are looking at the surface, concerned only about the symptoms, instead of looking at the underlying cause.  We are living in a world that believes it has a say over the bodies of women, of girls.

A young girl gets on a webcam.  Her sexuality is barely blooming.  Her understanding of sex takes place in words not yet through senses.  Maybe she’s kissed a boy, maybe she hasn’t.  But she knows lust and experimentation and joy.  She gets excited about things, she gets carried away, she is not yet sure of herself.  And suddenly, there is a boy or a man or a fiction of either on the internet.  He thinks she’s special, you’re so pretty he says, and a relationship forms.  She is ecstatic.  One day, she feels daring, and pulls up her shirt exposing her breasts.  Maybe she feels proud.  Maybe she feels quirky.  Maybe she thought it through.  Maybe she didn’t.  And here’s where it all gets so tricky.  Or not, really.

Her breasts are her breasts.  Tits.  Boobs.  Juggs.  They are hers and hers alone.  To do whatever she wants with.  Should I repeat that?  Her breasts are hers, the very moment that she had them, to do whatever she wants to do with them.  And if she felt that way, if society felt that way, the story would end there.  No matter what happened after.  If she regretted it, it would be a mistake, one of many in a lifetime, which she will inevitably make; but, the mistake would be hers and hers alone.  But that’s not how the story goes for these teen suicide victims.  And that’s what they are, victims (and we, the perpetrators).  Breasts become a tool to chastise, to control, to mock, to humiliate.  And for what?  For being human?  For having desires and needs?  For seeking attention and comfort and excitement?  What are we teaching children that make these things so wrong?  And why does it feel like so few people see the slippery slope that is our social-sexual attempts to control.

But you say, I’m not shaming her.  We’re not shaming her.  I would never, could never…

But whose children do you think are saying these things?  I know, I know, it’s always someone else’s kid, someone else’s problem.  Only, it’s not.  We are a society, a whole, indivisible by the very bounds of geography and similarity.  We are in this together, whether we want to be or not.

Whore.  Slut.  Promiscuous.  Easy.  No standards.  See how slippery the slope is?  One minute it’s whore and the next it’s just called “standards” and you’re still missing the point which is that you’re judging a thing you have no right to judge.  Her body is not public.  Her sexuality is not public.

I would never call a girl a whore, you say, but what about when you so proudly announce that you have standards; are you not aware of the insinuation that you are better than someone else, better than someone who doesn’t have standards?  And then you have to ask yourself, doesn’t everyone have some kind of standards?  And so what you’re really saying is that your standards are better than theirs, that you are better than her.  And suddenly you’re sliding down the slippery slope that is judging the sexuality of women and I wonder if your daughter hears every little thing you say.  Insidious.  It grips her, holds her, and becomes a part of who she is and how she sees the world (and the same holds true for your son).  And before you adopt that shitty stance that is, well better their kid than mine, ask yourself what if it’s your kid who is perceived as lacking these undefinable standards that are being used to control your child.  Can you see, can you understand the very possibility that it is you, as a part of a society that continues to allow the judgment of female sexuality like it is a public commodity, who permits the bullying of your child, their child, any child, all children?  Simply, because one day you weren’t so careful with your words and you let your bullshit judgment spill out because, because, because why exactly?

Why is society so afraid of women?  Why does it push us towards  less  pleasure,  less  joy, less freedom?

But, but, you say, I would never call a girl a whore.  You can blame the words all you want but it will still mean that you’re stopping short of discovering the source of the fire.  The words, while violent and harmful, are not the source of the epidemic.  The problem lies in why the words are used.  They are used to stifle female pleasure, to reappropriate feminine control; they say that the body is public and available for judgment, they say that our bodies are not our own.

The truth is mind-numbingly simple:  If our bodies weren’t shameful, if sexuality was allowed to be ours and ours alone, the bullying would end.  You cannot mock without shame.  You cannot shame without judgment.  You cannot control, that which you cannot make feel less than.

An Open Letter to Daughters

 

[dropcap]She stands[/dropcap] in a school yard, on a playground, at a bus stop, on the sidewalk, reflected in the wet spots of my face

Your daughter.  Her daughter.  Their daughter.  Our daughters.

This world, is breaking them.

I want to tell her, that she is innocence and potential and full of enough ink to write her message across all the days.  I want her to know she can swaddle herself in cotton candy love; that she doesn’t have to seek it outside; that she is enough, but that if she wants to, that’s just fine too.  Tell her not to hold her breath.  Tell her not to apologize for taking up space in this world.  Tell her that no matter what, in the darkest hours of her darkest days that there is someone who loves her.  Tell her that that someone should be herself.  Tell her to look inside for reassurance and outside to reassure.

I want her to know that her hands are made of glue, and that the world is hers for the taking, that she has the power to put all the pieces back together.  I want you to tell her for me.

Long before she becomes tortuous and entirely adolescent, tell her that life is a series of stages.  Tell her that sexuality is fluid and flexible, tell her that she should think with her brain and care with her heart, tell her that mistakes will happen but that shame should not be a part of her life.

“When you have shame,” you’ll say, “they have all the power.”

Teach your daughters to live without shame and no one will ever control them.

I Am Not Disgusting

Remember:  I am someone’s little sister, someone’s baby girl, someone’s friend, someone’s love.  Please don’t be mean.  My heart breaks the same as yours.

I can show you a picture, paint it on an easel, move your hand across the words in Braille but you’ll never really get it, unless you once tried to talk to someone who thought you were Disgusting. 

It’s a special kind of hurt the moment you find out you’re a sideshow Freak, a detour to chubby town, a vacation gone whale hunting, and you’re swimming for your life from men who want to mount your head on their wall.

You are an endangered species, in a world of bridges and railroad tracks and ceilings with beams not strong enough to hold you, like arms that should cradle you but hang you out to dry and then forget until they look and you’ve blown away.

This post is not in response to this awesome SO BRAVE beautifully written post because that just feels way too antagonistic or in opposition, which is not what this is.  This is an addition.  A plus(size).  An addendum.  So here goes…

When you see a picture of a woman, exposed with the flaws she thinks she hasbut you see none, you stand up and applaud.  She has value.  Her hurt should be taken away.  You think I have no say in how she should live her life.  Who am I to judge.  She has the right to feel beautiful, be beautiful, goddamn it she is beautiful (because honestly, aren’t we all?)

And to be clear, her hurt is in no way less important or worthy than mine.  But, I have to wonder if that same go grrrrl reaction happens when an actual fat person, bares their flaws for you to see.  And though I dream that it does.  I beg for it to be so.  I would give almost anything for that to be true, for this to be a world where you don’t think you have any fucking say over my body.  I have a lifetime of experience that says otherwise.

I’ve never worn a bikini.  Bikini season means nothing to me, though I’ve spent most of life swimming away from whale hunters.  No insult is ever equal when it comes to fat people.  I’m never just a bitch like all you other lucky bitches get to be.  I’m always a fat bitch.  I live in constant fear that teenage boys will spit on me (and I’m thirtyfuckingone).  When I reject a man while online dating (politely), I’m never just a girl who rejected him.  Suddenly I’m a fat bitch that no one wants anyway.

I’m not really going to go into why I’m fat (which I am).  Because the truth is it shouldn’t matter, to you.  This is my body.  I am allowed to eat (which I do).  I am allowed to fuck (which I do).  I am allowed to be happy and not harassed or stared at.  I should be able to workout and not live in fear that you think I’m disgusting.  I should be allowed to just be me, in whatever shape that comes in.

I’m not lazy.  I’m not worthless.  (though even if I was, who are you to judge?).  I have value.  I hold two BA degrees.  I’m currently getting my MA at Concordia in English Literature.  I’m kind to people.  I get choked up on phone calls with my parents because I love them so much.  I want to make the world a better place.  I want to protect young girls whose sexuality is judged and mocked and held hostage.  I want to be the naked tits on the internet that makes it so no girl ever commits suicide after she couldn’t stand being harassed and bullied for amistake.  I want to bear the burdens so other little girls never have to.  I have a family who loves me.  I have friends who love me.  I have people whose hearts break every time you hurt me.  I have no less value because I’m fat.  You don’t get a say in how I deal with my body or my issues.  I spend my days trying to make people laugh for no other reason than the world needs more joy.  MORE FUCKING JOY.  I should be allowed to sit by a pool, any pool, public or otherwise and not have you think that my grotesque form is somehow obstructing your otherwise perfect existence.

And so here I am.  At a summer BBQ.  Unaware of a photo being taken of me.  By a friend.  Who doesn’t see anything other than her friend, the one who makes her laugh and writes “about the most boring shit in the world but in a way that makes it seem sooo interesting”, making a burger (or something lol I don’t really even know what I was doing) on her thighs, on a day when we were all just so fucking happy.

HUGE Thanks to @MmeSurly and her beautiful brave post that has allowed me to be brave and bare my body and heart.

UPDATE:  In my rush to get this post out quickly yesterday, I worry that it feels unfinished, that I never actually said the thing I meant to say which is this:  That I am enough.  You are enough.  Our bodies are our own.  Life is hard enough as it is without having people tell us what we can or can’t do, what we should or shouldn’t show the world, or how much fun and happiness we are allotted.  

That being said, by the absolutely amazing left-me-near-speechless outpouring of love and support and stories from other women and men about emotions and hurt and strength and bravery and desires to be stronger (I could go on but this sentence is turning into a grammatical nightmare of love)…by what this post has inspired you all to say, I know that even without these extra words you somehow understood exactly what I was trying to say.  So thank you, you beautiful brave people.  My heart, it runneth over.

swimsuit