I am 7 when I’m told that I can’t play with the boys.
“It’s to dangerous”, “Boy play rough”, “You could get hurt”,
But these phrases mean nothing to a seven year old,
A little girl who just wants to play with the boys.
I was 7 when they told me I can’t play with the boys,
It didn’t matter that the boys wanted me on their team,
It was the adults that had a problem.
I am 13 when my body begins to change,
It absolutely terrifying and no will answer my questions.
The nurse simply tells me my parents will explain everything.
I was 13 when I was told I had to wear a sports bra,
Because now that fat was developing on my chest, my nipples were offensive,
And if the boys saw them, it might stir their “masculinity” and distract them.
No one cared that the sports bra was uncomfortable.
That I had no real answers, just more questions.
I am 15 when a boy sticks his tongue down my throat,
Fumbling to unclasp my (not sports) bra.
Nothing to stare at but the roof of the car, because I can’t look him in the eye,
The car is silent save for his groans, his hot breath somewhere between my ear and neck.
I was 15 when he tells me, “Everyone’s doing it. It’s not a big deal.”
There was nothing sweet, magical or joyous about it.
It hurts and all I can focus on now is the pain as tears build in my eyes,
Because he’d forgotten a condom, so he had to improvise.
There were ways to remain “virgin”, he says, as if putting it there is more special,
And I had no choice but to believe him.
He got to high five all his friends; I couldn’t sit for a whole week.
I am 17 when I realized my body was a blessing and a curse.
It was why I going stares and looks, why I got “special treatment”,
It is summer and hot and of course I wasn’t going out in jeans and a long sleeved tee.
He stalks over, telling me he’d like to fuck me,
Because screwing jailbait was on his bucket list.
I was 17 when I punch a graduate student in the face.
I was told, “I shouldn’t be a bitch about it. It was a compliment.”
My friends told me he was hot; he could have been my summer fling.
My revulsion didn’t stop him from telling everyone he banged me anyway,
From telling everyone I was just a jealous crazy bitch.
It didn’t stop them from leering and whispering behind my back.
I am 18 when I lose my virginity to a married man.
He is kind, and laughs at my jokes, and I won’t find out he’s taken until the next day.
There is nothing magical or even romantic, but there is a gentleness I’d never felt.
I was 18 when I lost my virginity, and it was not special.
I wake up, disoriented and naked. I don’t ask questions as I put on last nights dress.
The tears don’t come until I make it back to my dorm.
I meet his wife the same day at my campus job, and he winks at me from behind her.
I am 21 when we all go to the bar, excited with our newfound freedom.
It is crowded and loud, nothing like you see in the movies.
We want to think we’re special when a group of men come up to us, buying our drinks.
I was 21 when a man old enough to be my father tries to pick me up.
Married, for 20 something years he tells me, as if that makes him a good man.
He leans towards my face, “You seem like a good girl.” I don’t know what that implied.
Uncomfortable, I drag my friend over, telling the man he is my boyfriend.
“You’re too hot to stay committed to one guy,” the man says,
And even in my state, I know something is not right.
Saved by my friend’s boyfriend, I cannot grasp the reality of the situation,
Until we are stuck walking home from the bar, 10 miles away from school.
I am still 21 when I come to understand the definition of sexual harassment.
My supervisor lets his gaze wonder up and down my body, rarely looking my in the eye.
I let it happen, naïve, because I had been getting those looks since I was 16.
I was only 21 when I learned to use sex as a weapon,
Wielding it until I no longer knew the difference.
Alcohol was a crutch; she was the only thing that let me continue my war,
The only supply I had on demand—drowning reason and sense with each sip.
He was more than willing to give, as long as he got something in return.
I knew the war was lost when I no longer saw the need to fight for something so pathetic.
Sobering up was the hardest part—remembering what I’d done in blackouts and shame.
She had been in my veins far to long, a crutch to a warrior who never knew the stakes.
Whereas, he was to blind to see I knew the games he played, even played them better.
It took the better part of the year for him to stop texting and calling.
Though he still keeps tabs, letting me know I cloud his thoughts as he jerks himself off.
I am a girl, I am a woman, and society cannot care to tell the difference.
It does not matter that I have opinions, that I do not like to be likened,
To sexual demeanors and vulgar gestures—that I am nothing more than my body.
It only matters that—I fall into line, speak when spoke to, and know my place.
My sex is a weapon, but in a war I wanted no part in, and a battle I shouldn’t have to fight.
I am a girl, I am a woman, and I do not know the difference between the two.