southern baptist cult school, third grade, 2009.
you are submissive.
We had a guest speaker at chapel. The man (the speakers at chapel were always men) stood before us, an audience of ever trusting eight-years-olds, and asked for a female volunteer. A dozen fingertips reached up towards the sky in eager hopes of being called upon. Alas, a girl from the front row was selected and whisked up to stage, much to the envy of me and my female peers.
The speaker handed the girl a delicate paper heart, rigidly cut from a sheet of pink construction paper. He then instructed her to tear off a small piece of the heart and give it away to one of the boys in the audience. The girl continued handing out pieces to boys in the audience until the once delicate heart eventually amounted to nothing more than a scrap of paper. A male student was then plucked from the audience and designated the girl’s husband. In one final gesture of sexism disguised as a lesson in abstinence, the speaker instructed the girl to give her new husband the meager remains of the paper and tell him, “I love you with all my heart.”?
transfer student at cedar bluff, seventh grade, 2013.?
you are an object.
I don’t have to tell you that making friends at a new school can be hard. Early on, however, a male classmate befriended me, helping make the transition a bit easier. He showed me around the school, sat with me at lunch, and introduced me to teachers and students.
In the end, he was not my friend. I would later come to find that he was exploiting me day after day, sticking a phone in his shoe and strategically placing his feet beneath my legs so as to take pictures up my skirt. Rumors of the pictures would later circulate upon their eventual discovery in high school two years later. My parents went to the school seeking justice, but alas, he was never reprimanded. He made an honest mistake, no need to destroy his future.
A street in hardin valley, twelfth grade, 2019.
you are a woman.
The end of my childhood was defined by one final betrayal of trust when a boy from work that I had considered a friend of mine for several years reached out and grabbed my chest at a party. No one else in the room seemed to notice. Or at least, pretended not to notice. Embarrassed, helpless, I asked him to stop. He grabbed me by the waist and pulled me closer, refusing to let go. The world around me moved forward in a blur, leaving me behind. Unnoticed. Isolated. Utterly alone. I laughed it off.?
here’s what I know:
I was born into a world that refuses to take me seriously simply because of my gender. A world where my puberty was sexualized by society, justifying a strict dress code as early as fucking elementary school. A world where the man deserved a second chance and I deserved no chance.?
A world where I am a woman.