Disembodied

| by Chanda Briggs |
I am quite confident I was born with my very own body, but
For as far back as I can remember, I was given a certain message with stunning regularity:
my body was not my own.
When I was forced to hug and kiss my adult cousin, who made me uncomfortable when he joked that I was his girlfriend:
my body was not my own
When my mother picked my clothing and hairstyle until I was 17:
my body was not my own
When my school made rules about girl’s clothing for the sake of boys:
my body was not my own
When my male classmate forced me into a prop trunk in the theater workshop and laid on top of me until I threatened to scream:
my body was not my own
When a male classmate grabbed both of my buttocks in front of others and everyone laughed:
my body was not my own
When a male classmate pulled down my pants in front of everyone at dress rehearsal as a joke”
my body was not my own
When my mother tried to marry me off to a preacher from Alabama at the age of 16:
my body was not my own
When my friend was brutally gang raped and was shunned and shamed for it, and no one was held accountable:
my body was not my own
When a family member was raped at a party with full knowledge of the attendees, and her mother blamed her because she snuck out to go, and there was no justice for her:
my body was not my own
When my pastor said women in short skirts were to blame for being raped:
my body was not my own
When I finally had consensual sex and I was shamed for it:
my body was not my own
When I was hanging out with a male friend of the family, feel asleep and woke up to him on top of me, inside of me:
my body was not my own
When I was the designated driver at a party, and a male friend spiked my drink, followed me and raped me:
my body was not my own
When I could not shop, run errands or leave the house without men catcalling me:
my body was not my own
When a classmate lied to the entire football team and said he’d had sex with me:
my body was not my own
All the times men grabbed me and tried to scare me into having sex with them:
my body was not my own
When my boyfriend tried to forbid me from going out in a tight dress:
my body was not my own
When I went to have an abortion and the doctor shamed me for being pregnant:
my body was not my own
When my boyfriend guilted me into sex as an obligation despite the fact that he was hurting me:
my body was not my own
When my coworkers made lewd comments about me and my friend and no action was taken:
my body was not my own
When an executive at my company came up to me at a conference, started stroking the collar of my coat and stared at me:
my body was not my own
When my boss’ boss sat next to me at a meeting, staring at me and fondling the strap of my purse:
my body was not my own
When male politicians sit around and make up laws restricting what I do with my doctors:
my body is not my own
When men excuse other men who speak about women like property or conquest:
my body is not my own
When friends and strangers comment on my weight, fitness or general appearance:
my body is not my own
When men messaging me on dating sites tell me I should “give more men a chance” or submit to their dominance:
my body is not my own
Until good men hold bad men accountable, until all women stand up for their autonomy,
my body will not be my own
your body will not be your own
we will remain disembodied

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