Sometimes, it’s the side-eye and other times the direct eyes. It is menacing men, four, five, ten and twenty years older, who try to befriend you and bed you, sometimes in that order, sometimes at the same time, and sometimes its straight to bed to sample or own you for an evening or a decade.
It is the grown-ass man pulling your young girl self on his lap for no good reason. It is the smirks and winks and visual assessments that assert that your female teen form is his to covet or possess. These looks make you feel uncomfortable and icky and are markedly different from how you feel after receiving appropriate flirting from peers.
It is the college professor for whom you baby sat, whose wife you met (and liked), taking a detour through the dark deserted park instead of taking you home, trying to get some cause you’re so young and so fetching and he’d bless you with an A and sterling recommendation for that special fellowship if you’d just give him a little bit.
Names have been eliminated because they aren’t remembered (the trauma and distance or time erased them). Names won’t be shared because you remember them all too well and want to protect the women and children to whom these men belong(ed).
It is the guy at your high school who you go out with thinking your common interests will overcome your ethnic differences until he tries to get some and is upset at your rebuff because his father suggested that because you are black you’d put out and end his virginity.
Resistance worked but came after the hurt.
It is catching a train you didn’t intend and being ridden until it ended and you got off and made your way to the campus clinic.
It was being the right-on sister volunteering and doing her duty at the office in a derelict part of town (you should have known better) and no one showing up to lock up the building and escort you to the then dark and dangerous station back in the day when the tracks were elevated (why did you believe they would just because they told you they would). They didn’t show but a rapist did as you were locking the door.
Resist and you’ll die from the knife stuck against your neck.
It is the x-ray stare that unwraps the clothing and other protective layers you are wearing. The stares came in your mini-dress phase and in your maxi-skirt phase. They came when you were size 12 and when you were size 22. In your two cornrows with oversize glasses (don’t notice me phase) and in your polished woman (handling my business phase).
You didn’t know in your innocent, naive and girlish days that you shouldn’t go there or trust damn near anyone male, even the people in whose care you were entrusted.
As a grown woman, you didn’t know until you learned through experience that someone could profess to love you and still rape you.
You didn’t know that whether said in a whisper, “no” or screamed, “NO, NOOO!” words weren’t forceful enough to make someone stop.
You didn’t understand that the young attract the bad and the ugly incubus(es) and not just the good people. You didn’t know how to sort one from the other. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Devils in disguise.
I don’t know if this is coherent. I can’t make this tidy and calm. I am so angry, hurt, and dismayed that I want to spit, kick, throw something, strip my civility and compartmentalization that have kept the indignities, assaults and rapes separate from the rest of me. I thought I’d buried all of this deep within but now there’s been an earthquake and it’s all split open…fissures are oozing memories of what and when and who and how.
If a gentle, kind, soft-spoken white woman like Dr. Christina Ford cannot be believed, what hope could a woman have like me who is not soft-spoken, who is not white, who is tall and voluptuous, who speaks directly without hesitation? Who will believe that I was fragile? That I was wronged? That despite moving forward, I was harmed.
I opened up and visited a friend and unburdened myself and…Her, too.
I have nothing more to say about this now…