A Word About Bodily Autonomy

It doesn’t start with penetration.

It starts with “where’s your smile?”
It starts with ogling, with catcalling,
With being followed down the street by men demanding attention.
It starts with “fuck you bitch” when I don’t respond.
It starts with unwelcome advances and unwanted touching,
And being met with anger when I ask you to stop
something I never invited you to start.

It starts with being identified by the fit of my clothing.
An inch or two of fabric that has the power to make me a “hoe”.
It starts with being pulled from class to have my skirt measured.
It starts with adolescent hands in places they shouldn’t be,
hands that grab my ass as I make my way through crowded halls,
but boys will be boys.

It starts with unchecked objectifying comments
about burgeoning breasts, hips and thighs.
It starts with “look who’s starting to fill out”.
It starts with being called “fast” for running with the boys.
It starts with “change your clothes. There’s men around”.

It starts with “close your legs” and “pull your dress down”.
It starts with “children should be seen and not heard”,
and “if somebody tells you to do something, you listen”.
It starts with “girl, give your uncle a hug”.

It doesn’t start with penetration.

Because long before there were ever men
creeping into my bedroom while I slept,
I was taught that my body did not belong to me.
It was for others to command and control;
it was for men and boys.

I was taught that, as a young black girl,
my very existence was inherently sexual,
and that sexuality didn’t belong to me;
It was for men and boys.

I was taught that my body was something shameful,
I was taught to stay quiet and remain hidden,
I was taught that my voice doesn’t matter,
and that “no” is a bad word,
tantamount to disrespect in the highest degree.

It didn’t start with penetration.

Published by Nina Monei

28 | Sagittarius | Mama Seattle-native who likes cooking, poetry, music, art, sushi, tacos, Rihanna and when whites pay what they owe. Black as fuck, loud as fuck, angry as fuck. Black people are rightfully angry. Pro-heaux, sex positive, pansexual, all Black everything. Here for Black women, Black children, Black people, destroying white supremacy, community restoration, reparations.

One thought on “A Word About Bodily Autonomy

  1. Hi
    I accidently discovered your blog while looking for a new tattoo idea. I wanted a black solid bird and this bird with your poem popped up. I found myself reading this and related to every part, you touched my soul. I was sexually abused at the age of 13 and later raped at 17 years. I thought I was over it, but your words spoke to me and I realized I have so much healing still to do. I hope I am not being too personal but I thought I would let you know.
    Kind regards


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