By Syd Lazarus
He tells me, right when our relationship is at its worst, that if we ever broke up I’d “probably become a huge feminist and date a girl.”
The way he said it was like he had never seen me read bell hooks, or shut down slut-shaming, or come out of the closet.
The way he said it was like he had never heard me at all.
When we do break up, he harasses me for months and leaves me with titles like “survivor,” and statistics like “1-in-3 women.” He leaves me with keys between my fingers when I walk home at night, and with a kind of anger that’s so rich and burning that I eat my way to 20 pounds heavier. He leaves me with a weekly binge drinking habit, and an ability to drop friends like flies.
Whatever gayness and feminist qualities existed inside of me inflate to twice their size — fueled by the divorce of my body and the ownership I once had of it. His self-fulfilled prophecy was one anyone could have guessed: queer feminist girl gets raped then becomes more of a feminist and more gay.
I never questioned my feminism — there are books and essays and endless experiences to help validate the system I’ve been born into.
Instead, I questioned my love for her. I wondered if it was because he had incepted the thought into my brain the same way he was able to crush my body into my dorm room bed.
I wondered if my fear of men had now mutilated itself into a love of women, simply because it was something familiar, and non-threatening. I wondered if I’ll ever be able to touch her without regretting every fingerprint. I wondered if I’d ever be able to touch her when I’m sober.
My mom asks me, nearly a year after I’ve forgotten her name and the placement of her tattoos, if “I’m still interested in that.” You know, since I’ve started dating a man again. There is no hesitation in my voice when I say yes. Because if I said no, it’s that ache of too much sour candy on my tongue.
“No” would erase my 13-year-old fingers itching to grab her hand at any chance I got. “No” would erase the drawings that littered the margins of my elementary school homework. “No” wouldn’t explain waking up beside her. “No” would skew it into something vulgar and untrue.
I remember turning to my father at 14, before my body had been made into a playground for gas-lighting and assault, and telling him I would marry anyone, despite their gender. My father said I shouldn’t be greedy.
I wonder if that’s what my parents think of me now, nearly eight years later: Greedy.
If greediness is what this is, then yes, I am. My greediness doesn’t care who I fuck, because either way I’m still scared to do it. My greediness is sex-repulsed, but still eager to try.
Queer feminist girl gets raped and becomes afraid of sex but still remains gay and feminist.
My greediness is undeniably here; It exists when I tell my partner I love him, it existed when I told her I loved her, it exists.