Once, he wrapped his hands around my neck and he was inside me and in theory, it was the same as the other times except this time he was angry.
I had just broken up with him
But I let myself be led back inside
I let him have sex with me and I felt stunned that he was so mad and I shut my eyes and I waited for it to be over.
I did not say no
I did not say no because I did not know I was allowed to.
I did not say no because I was taught that my body wasn’t mine, not really, not actually.
My body was for people to tell “cover up” or “you look inappropriate” or “you’re sending the wrong message.”
My body was for companies to market to, to say you’re dirty and you smell bad and that thing that happens once a month? it needs to be plugged up and cleansed out and not talked about ever, please, because some of us are eating, god.
My body was for men, obviously. Since every magazine and every commercial and every movie focused on how can you be prettier, more palatable, sexy but not too sexy. Since the principal pulled me aside in 7th grade and said don’t bring attractive photos into school, because the boys will be boys and it is your fault they drew obscene things all over your photo, not theirs.
Logically, my body was mine but no other part of me believed it.
For basically my entire adult life, I had sex with men without knowing I could change my mind. Without knowing for sure that I could kiss and touch between their legs and then say, enough. Without knowing that they could be inside me and I could say, I’m done now. Without knowing I could say “I want this” and then thirty seconds later say “not anymore.”
I felt guilty if I set any type of boundary around sex. I felt strong enough to sometimes create a boundary and then I felt intense shame around the fact that I had to. Wouldn’t he be mad? Wasn’t it my fault if I got him all worked up and then stopped it? Wasn’t it my fault I was so attractive?
But also … wasn’t it my body?
Sometimes I was not sure.
I started putting my blood on my face for fun. From a sense of innocent joy that came from finally loving something I had always been told to resent and find inconvenient and disgusting.
And then I was attacked. Smeared all over the internet. And I got thousands of comments, messages, and emails telling me that I should die.
Because I touched my own body. With my own body.
Because at the end of the day, I still have to fight with the world to hold the basic truth that my body is mine.
That’s why I still do it. It’s not for the shock value or for fun or because that’s what I wanted to be known for always.
It’s because I was never taught that my body was mine. And now I know that it is.