I march because the hatred of women and girls, and their continued oppression baffles and terrifies me.

I march because the GOP despises women like me.

I march because the easiest way to dominate and enslave women is to use our own biology against us. Because I will always believe that women have right and autonomy over our own bodies. Because there are women in this country who are being forced to co-parent with their rapists. Because if I were ever forced to carry a pregnancy to term, I would literally do anything to terminate that pregnancy, whether such actions were legal or not, even if it meant terminating my own life.

I march because I didn’t “lose” my virginity. It was ripped from me and I would rather have died than have that asshole’s baby when I was still a child myself, and I felt lucky when all the blood came and I knew I wouldn’t have to find a way to get an abortion behind my parents’ back.

I march because even if YOU are against abortion, there is no such thing as a world without it. Abortion will NEVER EVER EVER NOT EXIST. Such a notion is naïve and stupid. People may end safe abortion, they may end legal abortion. But they will never eliminate abortion. Because there will always be women like me who would rather die than have a baby.

I march because not wanting a baby doesn’t mean that I or any other woman should not have sex at any point in our lives. Such a concept is archaic, puritanical misogyny. Not to mention profoundly unrealistic. If you believe a woman should not have sex if she doesn’t want a baby, all I can say is: Grow the fuck up.

I march because we are still operating under the absurd notion that birth control, and easy, affordable access to it, is a women’s issue. It is a HUMAN issue. Women do not get pregnant all alone in a slut vacuum. Men get women pregnant.

I march because I wish my tax dollars could go to comprehensive sex education and birth control for all genders instead of more pointless wars.

I march because embryos are more important than women and children in this world.

I march because there is no such thing as a “slut” – that is a term people are still using to dominate women and police their sexuality.

I march because there are lawmakers whose number one goal is punishing women. Women are punished for their sexuality, their biology, for abortions, for miscarriages and for their own rapes. I march because men who rape and kill women can serve less time than men who sell a bag of weed.

I march because even though I will soon be a woman past childbearing age, there are many young women and girls who are still vulnerable to the threat of unwanted pregnancy.

I march because I’m not sure if I’ve endured all the sexual assaults I will have to, or if there are still more to come.

I march because there are so many women who can’t.

What is #rape culture? And how do I contribute to it?

What is #rape culture? And how do I contribute to it?

I recently took a trip to Vegas. I was meeting some of my family members there. We were celebrating my baby sister turning 21.

The first night there, we spent downtown. It was one of those nights – ladies you know the kind of night I’m talking about. A night when the wolves are prowling and howling. It’s almost as if they all know, as if they are speaking in some silent, primal language. As if they have agreed, that tonight is the night, for getting lucky with the ladies. If only they are aggressive enough, they will get oh so lucky.

More than one man used the “Hey girl, c’mere,” approach with me, as I walked through the casino, or outside, minding my own business.

What is rape culture?

If a man thinks a woman is desirable, he has the right to demand that she come here and talk to him.

I tried numerous tactics to dissuade these men who wanted me to “come here.”

I explained that I did not want to come here, or talk to them. I said “no,” I said “I’m here with my family,” I said, “that’s my dad over there,” I said “those are my brothers over there.” I dare not point out my mother or sister. They are also pretty and therefore might then need to come here and talk to him.

What is rape culture?

I have to offer an explanation why I don’t want him. I can’t just say “no” – I have to explain that I’m not here in Vegas to pick up a man. I’m here to hang out with my family.

As the night wore on, it became almost a running joke with my brothers how much I was hit on. Only not one time was it flattering or kind. It was always aggressive, always unwanted, and at no point was I “asking for it.”

What is rape culture?

The very phrase, “asking for it.”

And the night wore on, I was still out and about, with only my two brothers. I went off alone to use the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, I saw him. A man headed straight for me. I saw the gleam in his eye. I became aware of the distance between my brothers and me. I became aware of being alone in a crowded place. I became aware that I was separated from the herd. I became aware of my gazelle status, and of his lion status. I became aware of the drinks in my system. None of my tactics so far had worked to dissuade aggressive men.

I should have walked by with my head held high, but I just didn’t want any trouble. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to “ask for it.” I didn’t want to make eye contact. If you make eye contact, he will assume you want him.

What is rape culture?

My eyes went down.

I hated myself for it, but my eyes went down.

He walked right into me. I mean, right into me. He pressed himself against me. Grabbed my arms, pushed his pelvis against mine, asked me where I was going.

I squirmed, trying to keep my pelvis from touching his.

I said, “I have a boyfriend.”

What is rape culture?

Making up a boyfriend. It is not enough to just not want this man. Rape culture says you can’t have me, because I am already another man’s property. I belong to someone, it just isn’t you.

I saw my brother Brett walking toward me. My salvation. My “boyfriend.” I saw the very welcome protective light in his eyes as he quickened his pace toward me.

The lion man was moving around me, grinding up on my backside.

“Where’s your boyfriend?” he asked, close in my ear.

I pointed to my brother.

“Right there.”

Seeing my big, pissed off brother coming toward him was enough to send this guy on his way.

Though I was very grateful I wasn’t alone, and had my brother to protect me, I was still angry.

What is rape culture?

The many times I’ve had the “what if” thoughts.

What if my brother hadn’t been there?

Because sometimes he isn’t. Sometimes no one is there to protect us, to save us.

What is rape culture?

Needing protection, in a busy, public place, because men can’t be expected to control their desires.

What is rape culture, and how do I contribute to it?

The fact that I told myself all the reasons why I didn’t deserve to be treated as if I am sub-human.

I didn’t come to Vegas to meet men, or to flirt. I was on an innocent vacation. So I’m not asking for it.

I wasn’t wearing something tight, or low-cut. A little short, but not THAT short. So I’m not asking for it.

I have a boyfriend, that’s actually my brother, but still. So I’m not asking for it.

I had been drinking, but I wasn’t hammered. So I’m not asking for it.

I’m so tired of making excuses and second-guessing everything I wear, and do and say.

What is rape culture?

All the excuses I made in my own head for why I wasn’t “asking for it.”

What is rape culture?

It is where we live. It is a place where men can’t be expected to control themselves, so women need to control themselves, and the men will automatically be controlled into not raping us.

I sometimes think rape culture is even more insulting to men than it is to women. Rape culture says women are mere objects, but it is the men who are truly weak.

What is rape culture?

It is something we can change. Right now.

I will do my part.

What is my part?

It is lifting my eyes and meeting yours.

It is not asking for it, but demanding it: Respect. Humanity. Freedom of movement.

Just like men have. I want the right to walk, to meet your eyes, to wear what I want and not question it.

I want men to have the right to claim their rapist status. If you are a rapist, admit it. Say, “I am a rapist.”

Do not give the provocative sexy women the power to make you into a man who couldn’t help himself. Admit you are weak and powerless in our presence.

Or meet my eyes. As if I were human. As if we were equals.

That is what I’m really asking for.

Meet my eyes.

The Shame of Beauty

When I was a little girl, people would often tell me how pretty I was. My parents, other family members, friends of my parents. My grandmother would tell me I was going to grow up to be Miss America (yea, I know, ugh).

Whenever someone would tell me how pretty I was in front of my mother, I would just stand there, silent. My mother would say, “Say ‘thank you’ Marnie.” But I couldn’t. I would just clam up. She’d get embarrassed, and later chastise me for my rudeness.

I guess if you are pretty, you owe the world a thank you.

I’m not trying to sound all woe is me, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. I actually plan on making a point.

As I got older, around 12 or 13, I started to develop, you know, that womanly stuff. And I started to notice something. I noticed men noticing me. Not boys, MEN. Grown men, OLD men. They looked at me differently now, and I wasn’t sure what to think about it. I guessed I had changed and it was noticeable. But I know what I felt. Shame. 

Today, I guess I’d have to call what happened to me a “verbal sexual assault.” My landlord (who is ancient) was in my apartment while the plumber worked fixing my sink. He sat at my kitchen table, told me about his ex-girlfriend who I apparently resemble. According to him, I look so much like her it is uncanny. He told me I was “built” the same as she was. He had a plastic grocery bag with photos he had brought of her to show me (so I’m guessing this conversation was pre-meditated?). He had four shots of her – three nude (only from the breasts up, but still), one in black lace lingerie – all carefully in matte frames which he set on the table in front of me. Whether or not I look like her is debatable I guess. I could see some resemblance but she was hardly my exact twin. I guess it’s more a way I have about me, as he also informed me she was a free spirit, much like he suspects I am (and to re-iterate a point I often make, in man language “free spirit” means “slut”).

He told me how she really enjoyed one of his talents, which is oral sex. He told me some couples like to take naughty pictures, or make pornos together, which she was totally down for, but he opted for these tasteful shots. He said she eventually dumped him to “settle down.” (So much for maintaining her slutty free spirit status I guess). He mentioned that the Playboy channel is available to watch (um, yeah, I knew that, but um… why are we having this conversation?). He told me he had three other girlfriends who had each brought him a gift – another girlfriend that wanted to be “serviced” by him, and that that was quite a feather in his cap. Yes, I know, threesomes are something guys consider quite a score. Got that memo.

Every time I tried to redirect the conversation, he would take it back. He asked me if I was embarrassed, I said it was more like uncomfortable. He did say “I hope I didn’t make you mad.” I said, “I’m not mad, but this is really awkward.”

Why the hell wasn’t I mad? I’m mad now!

Needless to say, I finally got him to leave with my subtle standing and walking toward the door body language.

He told me repeatedly before he left that he was “at my service” and all I had to do was call. I tried to play it off and act like he was talking about sending a plumber to fix my sink (not a euphemism) but I know what he meant.

My ancient landlord is actually blatantly offering to lick my pussy.

As soon as he left, I burst in tears.

I used all my therapy tools to try and cope with the feelings I was (and still am) having. No matter how strong and independent and assertive I am, I still let this man talk to me this way. I still let him make me feel small and dirty and most of all ASHAMED.

I felt 12 again. I felt the shame that would wash over me when creepy old guys would stare at me like they wanted me, and hated themselves for it.

I felt ashamed of how sexual a person I am. He must know. He must have sensed what a free-spirited slut I am. He must know the dirty things I’ve done, and even though I did them with someone I wanted to do them with, I’m a dirty whore and every man should get a turn. I must have been too friendly, too open. I must have been putting my sexual heat, my beauty, my appeal out there for him, as I do for everyone, because I am a dirty fucking skank. It must be my fault.

I suddenly had one of those “aha!” moments. I have struggled since adolescence with my beauty (or lack of it). Maybe I’m no supermodel, but here is my dirty little secret: I am a beautiful woman. I know it. And I think the real reason I beat myself up and try to insist that I am unattractive is because of the shame and guilt I feel when I know I am pretty. Being beautiful, and even more so sexy, makes me feel weak. It makes me feel like a victim. That is fucked up. Ugly makes me stronger and more powerful. It makes me feel like I can own myself, instead of being owned by men.

This is a world dominated by men. I have been a man’s trophy. I have been a man’s shame. I have been a man’s dirty little secret. I have been a man’s desire. I have been a man’s revulsion. I have been a man’s victim. I have been held up by a man. I have been held down by a man. All of these things mean the same thing though: I belong to men, not to myself. That is not okay. And I can’t be the first woman who’s felt this way.

I feel violated. I went for a walk to calm down, and of course the whistles and hoots came from various men, because they always come more when you are in no mood to hear it. Men behind me in line at the grocery store had a loud conversation about kinkiness and whip cream, which I’m sure was elevated for my benefit. Normally, I’d just ignore these idiots, but today I was too fragile to handle it.

My eyes have been filled with tears most of the day, because I don’t want to be dominated, controlled or owned by these men. They either reject me completely or hold me down and humiliate me. And it’s always the same: the one I want will reject me, the one I don’t will hold me down. He will hold me down with inappropriate comments, unnecessary touching, or lewd stares. Or he will just hold me down literally and take what he wants.

I am a beautiful woman. I am a sexual woman. I do not belong to anyone but myself.

I do not belong to anyone but myself. I do not belong to anyone but myself.