Sh

Sexual harassment

Began too early and occurs too often still

Me too, too much

The initials of Sexual Harassment are sh- as in shh, don’t say a word

Which is what I do, what I’ve always done

I take abuse with a smile, like my family taught me

In response to trauma, I used to think that I only had to master the art of letting go, but letting go can be a form of holding on when truth remains unspoken, when the teapot is denied its birthright to scream and let off steam

I act like trauma rolls off my shoulders, but I am crushed under the weight of secrets that were never my scandals to bear- my body was only the paper they wrote on, the backdrop of their drama

I didn’t think much of it at age 14 when my middle-aged boss told me I had a great ass while I was bent forward scooping ice cream

The wandering hands of men were a part of growing up, I thought

I took my baptism into womanhood with a bewildered sense of pride at first

My blossoming body offered a route out of my crippling shyness, transforming me overnight into someone interesting, special, likable

As one man said of my newly pubescent body at the county fair, ‘Your breasts are talking to me’

I felt relieved that I didn’t have to work so hard to think of things to say- my body did the heavy lifting

Physical touch with men made me feel wanted and independent from my mother who had claimed ownership of my body early on- she taught me how to live without physical boundaries, though the trauma is deep and the lesson hurts still

I wish I had spoken truth at any point on the journey of using my body and letting my body be used- my silence came at a high price

Rape followed rape like ocean waves

Nowhere was I safe from having my body violated, which is how I still feel, which is how most women feel most of the time

As a grown woman, my current boss asked me out my first day on the job- tempted me with cold beer on a hot summer’s day

I was lonely and thirsty but from a root chakra reflex I trembled and stumbled through what to say, knowing that if I didn’t get away I’d end up drunk in his bed and back on the agonizing path of regret and disempowerment, stressed about STIs and pregnancy, and flat-line depressed

My saving grace was that I was recovering from a relationship with a narcissist; my ex and I had been on a small island together and I had to choose between escaping the relationship or finishing my graduate education- I stuck it out for all the women who have had to give up their education because of men…all this to explain why my senses were heightened to the narcissistic stink of my boss as he fluffed his feathers, showing off his new convertible.

Hell no, not again. I got away clean.

I have survived countless harassments- men insisting that I take off my clothes, men touching me and then getting angry if I appear displeased, men whacking-off to me violently.

I rarely react at all, but I always notice.

I’ve been felt up, smelt up and dealt a hell of a hand, yet somehow always land on my feet

I’ve never lost a game of strip poker- I know to layer up

Yet the sexual harassment that irks me the most was the job I didn’t get because my interviewer tried to kiss me during the interview- mind you, I was pregnant, not attracted to him at all, too professional to even consider physical intimacy with a potential future boss, and too wise to kiss a complete stranger.

Strange- I keep sexual harassment in my back pocket, like a spare ace, thinking, ‘I could cost you your job at any moment if I speak the truth’

But the truth is, the truth would probably just cost me mine

Men get paid more, but women always pay

Shh

Shout it out

Alice in Recoveryland

Alice had her heart broken

When she was quite small
And healing a broken heart
Isn’t easy at all
So she drank
To forget it all
But she couldn’t forget,
Even when she felt tall
In fact, the more she drank
The more she felt like she was falling
And falling…
Until- kerplunk!
She hit rock bottom, landed on her badunk
She had no where to go but up
But getting up is hard when you are on your badunk
Though Alice was hurting, she was also incredibly strong
So she climbed and she climbed, though her journey was long
To this day, she is climbing still
She is higher than she ever felt when she was looking out over windowsills
In towers guarded by grumpy ogreish men
Alice is a survivor, and she’d survive it all again
Her heart may have been broken,
But it never stopped beating
Though the sweetness of love was fleeting
And the bitter years of sadness and tears
Left a sting on her cheek and made her feel meek
She is finding her true voice
She is exercising her choice
To express herself in this world
Hers is the story of one small girl
Who grew into womanhood
The only way she could
Smoking this, drinking that
Sleeping with men wearing mad hats
Alice is every woman, in a way
Doing her best to recover from her past today
Building herself a better future
Re-writing her fairy tale
After giving so many men happy endings
She is creating a happy ending for herself
Filled with love, hope, and peace

Autobiographical Poem

Would you believe me if I told you the truth about my life?
Since infancy I learned to please everyone around me in order to survive.
An apt learner, I adjusted quickly to the demands of my life, put on me by my family, they didn’t realize
The repercussions of neglect and abuse, a vicious pairing that left me clinging,
their shouts and silence ringing in my ears,
Afraid to sleep at night, the threat was always near.
I fought for my life by appeasing them all those long years.
I cried so much, I thought I would run out of tears.
I didn’t know how to stop my alarm bells from sounding,
sending my heart pounding,
I didn’t know any other way to be.
I automatically tried to please others, I had no idea how to begin to be me.
After I moved away from home and the violence left my life, I still felt afraid of everyone around me, so I continued to act obligingly, and that’s how I naturally attracted danger, letting myself get physically near people who harmed me.
Although old enough to stand on my own two feet, I continued to yield effortlessly to the desires of others, the way I had learned to do since infancy.
My mind screamed ‘No!’ while my mouth said ‘Yes’
to request after request, I got undressed.
It lead me under many covers.
The men were violators to me, but to them I was a lover.
And that is how I became a whore: by being a combination of pretty, people-pleasing and poor.
Tired of being broke,
I figured that since my whole life seemed a cruel joke,
And I was chained to an invisible yoke,
I might as well make some money,
No need to be both raped and hungry.
I excelled at being a prostitute
For that job, I was astute!
To some, it may sound insane,
But I was a natural at it because the pattern of pleasing others was deeply ingrained in my brain.

Being a working girl was a lot like my life already, except now I received cash in exchange for having sex when I didn’t want to, with people that I didn’t want to (I never want to have sex because it re-triggers trauma in my body).
I earned enough to pay my bills, save for the future and donate to charity for children on the other side of the world
So that they could get an education and have enough to eat.
I wanted to help them out of poverty, the way I wish someone would have done for me.
I must admit I wasn’t good at business and often gave my body away for free.
If you don’t get the cash up front, you’re never going to get paid.
Once a man has you behind closed doors, even if you signed up for just a hand job, if he wants it, he’ll get laid.
Because what are you going to do? Call the cops? Fight him off? Report the rape?

One day, in a moment of clarity, after I had some money squirreled away and I had grown tired of putting myself in danger, of feeling uncomfortable in my body, of worrying about getting HIV or violently murdered by disturbed men, I quit my job.

I stopped. I walked away from that world lucky to still have my life. At times I’ve been tempted to return to it because of the livable wage, but knowing that I would get violated again and put my health at risk, I resist.

And I persist. Now I rely on my mind to make money.
I still struggle to speak my truth, but I’ve come a long way, honey.
On the road to better living, I wrote this poem in the spirit of giving.
I want to give hope to women who can relate.
I want to say,
‘You are not alone, you are strong and you are great!’
I want to break the cycle of abuse that robs us
of our voices and our choices.
I want to help people avoid becoming a sex worker, get out of sex work, and I want to make sex work safer, with legal rights and social resources!
I want to prevent suffering.
I want to speak out about the horrendous experiences that lead to sex work, and the horrendous experiences that sex work leads to.
I want children to have happy childhoods.
I want to use my life for good.
I want more people to feel safe to share what happened to them by first sharing what happened to me.
I want all beings, everywhere, to be happy, healthy and free.

Daughters of the Ocean

Daughters of the Ocean

Women are the strongest warriors
Because we share the world with men
We bleed our whole lives
Yet we survive
We witness men destroy our bodies and our Earth
Yet we carry on, caring for our loved ones
Nourishing ourselves with our own salt-water tears

We rise as surely as the tides
We each embody the ocean’s roar
I am one tiny wave
And you are millions more

I hope that someday
Toxic masculinity will wash away
From our beautiful Mother Earth’s face
We are already creating space
For unstoppable sea-changes
We are powerful enough to move mountain ranges
We are Daughters of the Ocean
And we will always be in motion

A Woman’s Rage

A Woman’s Rage

Nothing man-made
Can measure a woman’s rage
It is deeper than the ocean
And more powerful than a Tsunami
We often do not make a scene
When men are obscene
But we know when crimes are committed against us
We pay the price for men’s abuse
with our bodies, hearts, minds, and lives
How much trauma can one woman hold?
How many violations can fit into one woman’s lifetime?
I keep on hoping that this time will be the last time.
What is the answer?
We do not forgive nor do we forget
We just keep on keeping on
Because we have work to do
We are the dragon warriors
….
Yet part of me longs to demonstrate my rage for men
To erupt in a volcano of noise
To smash and crash and shout
I’m tired of small penises attached to over-inflated egos getting in my way
I want to rip off your dick and shove it down your throat until you choke
I want to break what you hold dearest over your head until you are dead
I want to shatter glass and shove the shards up your ass
I want to throw you off the planet and into outer space
So that you are frozen from your balls to your face
And drift forever, all alone

But that is what caused you to mistreat me in the first place
You were lonely and felt powerless over your desires
So you abused what little power you had
Demonstrating how small-minded and weak you are
I wish that you will soon self-evolve
So that you will stop hurting women
But until then, I’m just another victim
Of the countless crimes committed against women by men
All day, every day

But fuck that kind of talk, I don’t want to be your victim
I am strong, and you were wrong
To do what you did
You know what you did
Go burn in hell
Fuck you
I hope you die alone
After a miserable life
You took from me more than you will ever know

I want to slam doors
I want to break things
I want to scream
I want you to know how much you hurt me
I want you to feel my pain
I want you to take it back
I want your eyes to burn as these words ignite on the page
I want you to feel a woman’s rage