Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Apologies & Boundaries

Dear Internet: 

I'm writing to tell you I got a job last month. It's part time, so I'll still be making time to blow things up with my words, but I am, at the moment, still trying to balance my life now that it has some paid work in it. I am happy to have to job and love going in to it every day (even if it means waking up @ 5:30 sometimes). It's been great, but the frequency of my writing has declined :(

While I figure all this adult life stuff out I'll leave y'all with an old hunk of writing to chew on. Hope it satisfies!

                                                    -Wendy R.M.

I vow that the space surrounding my body will no longer be an apology. I will no longer take responsibility for your discomfort. The way your face rumples when I say the word queer is not my fault.

By most of my friends and myself I am known as a "tough" girl. The kind of girl who bites back at assholes and jerks when they try to step on my agency. I wasn't born this way.
I was lucky. I learned it. I was well taught by my loving old fashioned father how to find a strength of stance and confidence rarely privileged to those who share my gender. He warned me about other men who would not care about my strength or my confidence. I readied and honed my “fuck you”s for just such men. I wrote myself so many templates for fighting against male aggression and oppression. 

But no one told me how to say no to women, and that it's not okay for anyone, not just men, to touch me when I don’t want it. When they banned hugs and hand holding in the hallways of my high school nobody stopped my best friend from touching my breasts. Especially not me. 

Anti-consent rape culture is alive in the actions of more than one gender. It is alive in the actions as innocuous as the "guess who" game. You know when you sneak up behind someone and cover over their eyes? We glorify, normalize and often erotocize the unasked for aggressions on the physical boundaries of others. We call it "romantic", "spontaneous" and so often for women it’s deemed "adorable" or even "confident". It's not confident it is creepy, it is disrespectful. I might even be assault. And I will not stand for it anymore. The space around my body will no longer be an apology.

When/if you ignore my boundaries or assume that my boundaries are the same as other women or other queers that you've met, you lose my respect & I will become less comfortable around you. I'm not sorry for this. I won't banish you forever. I know that our culture has taught you that surprises, spontaneity, & teasing are romantic, but what you are playing with is somebody's boundaries for feeling okay in the world. Next time, just ask.

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