You’re Prettier When You Blow Me
15% of rape survivors are under the age of 12.**
I was sitting in the back of a darkened auditorium, surrounded by nearly 100-150 professional women, when the statistic slapped me across the face. Not even an hour before I had shown Katie Makkai’s “Pretty,” alongside a couple of other spoken word poems on culture, gender and race to a group of 15-16 year old girls who laid out on the table all of the times they had felt ugly or fat or worthless because of—not surprisingly—images in the media. Even less surprising was their retelling of times when their mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles had told them they were ugly, fat or worthless because their hair frizzed due to a morning’s dew or their thighs failed to squeeze into precious size 2s. In multiple conversations with young girls and older women alike I find that our closets are full of moments when we felt being worth something amounted to the lack of food on our plate or the array of colors splayed across our faces. Thinking back I can’t even remember a time when losing 50 pounds wasn’t one of my New Year’s Resolutions, or having curly hair has made me feel beautiful and edgy and worth it. And in that moment I think, can I be a positive female role model when I still falter to see the beauty that everyone else sees?
At age 12 I was still new to sex in the sense that I was a virgin, and would be for another 7 years thereafter. I had though, to my brother’s horror I’m sure, stumbled upon what was then simply deemed “channel 35.” There were nights when, as my grandmother shook the entire apartment complex with her snore, my cousin and I watched as our young eyes were assaulted with shaved vaginas and extremely veiny penises for countless hours of the night. After my brother caught me sex became mysterious, wrong and dirty. In a way, it became alluring because it was something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. Looking around at the kids in my class, I begun to understand that good girls—smart, studious, virgins—were not desirable. If good girls were anything like me then they were chubby, with frizzy hair and really bad clothing (because their mothers were still making the fashion choices). I was Ugly before anyone even knew of Betty.
But I had crushes. And I always crushed from afar because in 3rd grade I got the message very clearly that I was not anything to be looked at when the only Valentine I got was from my mother. I could not be me and expect boys to like me. So when at the age of 12 my crush gave me the opportunity to be anything but me, I ran with it. I had been chewing on a pen in Art class that afternoon when I glanced up and saw my crush looking at me from across the hall. Chewing on my pen wasn’t exactly a highlight in my day so I shrugged it off until my crush circled me after school with a group of his friends. The story went that by chewing on my pen I had been offering to blow my crush. Stunned that he had even noticed me I didn’t do much to clear up the story. He was finally interested in me, ME!, that ugly little 7th grade duckling with the acne scars and dominating mole right smack on the side of her face. But I wasn’t ready the next day after school when all four of them coaxed me to their building lobby, and after 15-20 minutes of saying “No, I will not go upstairs with you” I said okay because one of the boys had taken my book bag and I feared my mother would yell her head off if she found I had not only gotten to the bus stop where she normally picked me up on foot but with no book bag.
I used to wake up in sweats, ashamed and in tears remembering that naive day before I finally confided in a high school friend. Every time I closed my eyes I would think about walking into that apartment with those 4 boys, and having at least 1 boy sit in the living room with me—watching me, to make sure I didn’t try to leave. I sat in a corner, unaware of the fact that this would be a defining moment for me and my childhood and my relationship to sex. I sat in that corner, scared that I’d still have to go home without a book bag. Scared that my father would want an explanation as to how it happened and I would have none to give. I wasn’t aware of the minutes going by as I sat in that corner. All I was aware of was that I had no book bag and I could not go home without one. As I sat in the corner of one of the couches the boys would sit next to me, pleading with me to give them head. Channel 35 had not prepared me for this. Let me explain that I did not even understand what a blow job was until Sophomore year of high school, so at the age of 12 I was lost as to what these boys were asking me to do. One of them had no qualms about giving me an explanation, despite the fact that I had not asked for one. Rather than ask, he simply laid his penis out on top of his jeans and grabbing me by the back of the head, tried to introduce me. He even tried pressing it against my lips as if maybe I just needed to be even closer to his pale flaccid self for him to be pleasured. I didn’t let any of the boys sit on the same couch as me or near me after that.
My book bag was returned to me only after I was shoved into the closet because keys could be heard wrestling in the lock. When I was questioned by the police I would hear that one of the boy’s sisters—who had found me in the closet where my book bag was being held hostage— had found them masturbating and watching porn in the bedroom. When I reached the outside I was swarmed by a group of 8th graders, shouting “Whore” and “Cock sucker” and “Wipe the cum off your face!” I wanted the entire thing to be over so I lied to the police on my case about what happened because I couldn’t handle having the principal of my junior high school tell me I was asking for it or not being allowed to go out for lunch or being continually heckled and physically shoved by an 8th grade bully every day after school. My crush and his 3 friends didn’t speak to me or look my way afterward. If I wanted any ounce of attention I had to spread my legs and at the age of 19, after years of crying myself to sleep because no boy found me pretty, I did. I pushed my breasts up and out, I cut 4” off my skirt and heavily made up my face to erase all of my ugly. Forget pretty, I wanted sexy. I wanted boys to see me walk down a hall and want to fuck me. If they fuck me, I thought, they’ll like me. And they did. They fucked me. And every time I would think “Finally, someone who likes me. Someone who’ll wake up in the morning and say have lunch with me. Someone who will fall for me.” They all fell—prey to my advances but not head over heels.
So I cut my hair. Because short hair was not pretty, and after discovering “pretty” and being made to feel like a cheap blow up doll the last thing I wanted to be was pretty. I cut my hair. Maybe this way I can get someone to see me. But boys still wanted to fuck me, and just fuck me so I gave up and decided if that’s all I was to be then at least it would be on my own terms. I could forget love and being wanted and not worry if a guy asked me to lunch the next day. In the midst of forgetting about pretty, I became confident and bold and even carefree. When I stopped worrying about pretty, boys began to like me but in the back of my head pretty still amounted to sex and I didn’t want to be just another hole for a guy to place his penis in. I no longer wanted to be pretty because I didn’t want to just be discarded after a night in bed the same way a vegetarian passes up on a chicken leg. So when my boyfriend tells me that I’m pretty or that he prefers me without endless amounts of layers on my face or when he’s perfectly content watching a movie than rolling around in bed with me I can’t help but in the back of my mind think that he’s lying or that he’s bound to find a girl worth spending time with. Despite the fact that he doesn’t flinch at the blaring 12 on my jeans or kisses me when my hair is all types of frizz and curls I still feel the need to be society’s ideal of pretty—lined eyes, long legs and all. Even with a boy by my side I still think that pretty meets at the v between my legs, and anything less is only temporary.
I say, ‘I am fat.’
He says ‘No, you are beautiful.’
I wonder why I cannot be both.
He kisses me
My college theater professor once told me
that despite my talent,
I would never be cast as a romantic lead.
We do plays that involve singing animals
and children with the ability to fly,
but apparently no one
has enough willing suspension of disbelief
to go with anyone loving a fat girl.
I daydream regularly
about fucking my boyfriend vigorously on his front lawn.
On the mornings I do not feel pretty,
while he is still asleep,
I sit on the floor and check the pockets of his skinny jeans for motive,
for a punchline,
for other girls’ phone numbers.
When we hold hands in public,
I wonder if he notices the looks —
like he is handling a parade balloon on a crowded sidewalk;
if he notices that my hands are now made of rope.
Dear Cosmo: Fuck you.
I will not take sex tips from you
on how to please a man you think I do not deserve.
He tells me he loves me with the lights on.
I can cup his hip bone in my hand,
feel his ribs without pressing very hard at all.
He does not believe me when I tell him he is beautiful.
Sometimes I fear the day he does will be the day he leaves.
The cute hipster girl at the coffee shop
assumes we are just friends
and flirts over the counter.
I spend the next two weeks
mentally replacing myself with her
in all of our photographs.
When I admit this to him
we spend the evening taking new photos together.
He will not let me delete a single one of them.
The phrase “Big girls need love too” can die in a fire.
Fucking me does not require an asterisk.
Loving me is not a fetish.
Finding me beautiful is not a novelty.
I am not a fucking novelty.
I say, ‘I am fat.’
He says, ‘No. You are so much more’,
and kisses me
How he makes me feel every day.
Confession of The Weak: #1
Dare I say it?
I don’t like bringing my best guy friends’s girlfriend around my boyfriend because she’s tall, pretty, on the thinner side, and tends to wear provocative clothing. Chalk it up to jealousy or insecurities but I keep thinking she’ll make the moves on my boyfriend or that my boyfriend will just find her irresistibly attractive and charming.
I know men can be dogs too but I really just don’t trust women.
Do you know how to keep a woman happy? I mean truly happy. Keeping a woman happy is common sense stuff, but many men get this all wrong.
#1- Confidence is king
Confidence is more attractive to a woman than money or good looks. Think about it. How often do you see an ugly guy with a beautiful woman? It’s pretty common. To make your woman happy, be yourself and be confident. You are good enough for her regardless of your financial status or physical attributes.
#2- Focus on the little things
Women keep score differently than men. In a woman’s eyes, you earn points regardless of how big something you do is. Buying her an expensive diamond necklace earns you no more points than calling her just to say you love her. If you want to keep a woman happy, do little things for her consistently rather than doing a big thing every once in a while.
#3- She needs appreciation
More than anything in a relationship, a woman needs to feel appreciated to be happy. Appreciation is even more important than chocolate or love in a woman’s eyes. Let her know you value all the little things she does for you like doing your laundry, fixing dinner, or leaving you cute notes.
#4- Give her the attention she deserves
When you’re with her, avoid staring at other women. Women constantly compare themselves to other women, and when you stare at other women when she’s around, you will make her feel as though she’s not good enough. You’re a man and you’re going to look. It’s part of your core being, but be conscious of it when she’s around and give her your full attention if you want to keep her happy.
#5- Laughter will win her heart
If you want to know how to keep a woman happy, make her laugh. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you can’t be cute, silly, or even a little childish if it brings a smile to her face. You know the things that make her laugh so use them.
#6- Do something she loves even if you don’t
Maybe your girlfriend likes to ski or dance and you don’t. Make an effort to go with her sometimes even if you don’t enjoy it that much. Do it for her because you love her. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything she loves all the time, but show an interest in her passions. She’ll love you for it.
#7- Don’t get sloppy
Guys have a tendency to put a lot of effort into getting the girl, but once they have her they get sloppy. They stop doing the little things. They stop caring about their appearance. They stop appreciating her and start taking her for granted. If you want to keep a woman happy, don’t get sloppy. You can lose her in an instant.
#8- Get to know her family and friends
Women for the most part are social creatures. They rely on their friends and family to validate the choices they make in life. They want their boyfriends and husbands to have a relationship with their family and friends. Learning how to keep a woman happy will require making an effort to show an interest in your girl’s sphere of influence.
#9- Be considerate of her feelings
Women are more emotional than men. It’s not their fault. It just comes with being a woman. When you show her you understand this and are sensitive to her moods and don’t get upset or over-react, she’ll do everything she can to keep you.
#10- Spice it up
It’s natural for a relationship to lose some of its excitement over time. However, if you feel things getting stale, try something new. maybe taking a class together to learn how to dance or do yoga. Do something neither of you have ever done, and do it together.
I’ve Got A Sort of Writer’s Block
Currently going by the title of boyfriend.
It’s been my one and only subject as of late.
Guess I’m up at the mound with only one certified pitch.
I wish he didn’t smoke so I didn’t feel as if we were moving towards a dead end.
Jimmy Eat World Said “Drugs Or Me”
Every time you take a hit, I think there’s something in you you’re trying to fix and I guess you can’t seem to pinpoint the ingredient in the mix that’s got you so vexed.
If You’re Ever Wondering What You Mean To Me
I kicked a small pebble on the sidewalk and tried steadying my breathing. The cell phone at my ear was starting to feel sweaty. Or was it my palms that were starting to sweat? I couldn’t tell the difference. I just knew my ear felt oddly violated. I kicked another pebble to forget the feeling.
“I just don’t get what’s so weird about it.” The male on the other end came in, sounding somewhat comfortably distraught. I say comfortably distraught because there wasn’t any of that pep you’d hear from someone whose life is really going great. It seemed this male had a few things in shambles, but he wasn’t paying much mind to that.
“Well… I mean… you know…” I stopped to smooth over a crack. I had walked six blocks without an actual explanation. I will admit, I was actually beating around the bush because I didn’t think I could just come out and say it. Could I just come out and say it? “Ugh… I don’t know I just… we don’t really talk to each other about personal stuff.”
“We’ve talked to each other about personal stuff.”
It almost sounded as if he was now hurt but I was on the verge of tears, right in the middle of the street so I didn’t care much for how he felt.
“Fine okay… I told him I loved him and he said thanks. Okay? So it really just… it really just fucked up my birthday weekend…”
There was a long silence on the other end.
“Wow. I don’t know what to say.”
“Wow. I mean, I’m sorry…” Another silence. “But you know if you’re ever unhappy, you should leave.”
I wasn’t leaving. My mind didn’t even hesitate to answer. Maybe I was comforted by having him around, or maybe it was his laugh or something about the way he tended to go about life but I knew I wasn’t leaving.
My heart knew I wasn’t leaving. It braced its self for what was to come, for the possibility of never having another heart to share cold nights with or of never getting the heart it currently desired. It braced its self to be broken, but not to be satisfied.
My heart and mind had finally agreed on something. They both agreed they were far too terrified of the future to brace themselves for satisfaction. I had spilled the deadly venom, and he hadn’t helped me clean up. My heart and mind didn’t think I’d get the satisfaction of seeing him spill his venom either. But that’s the problem with love. Some spills just never get picked up.
Everything I Write, I Write For You
She kneels on the futon, which sits outstretched in the middle of the living room. It She crawls closer to the edge to grab his face.
“Hey…” She looks right into his eyes, “whatever it is we’re going to get through it. We are going to get through whatever it is. I know you think you’re alone on this but you’re not. I know you think this is your problem, and your problem alone but it’s not. I’m here for you. You’re the only reason I’m here and I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything it takes to help you get where you need to be…”
She takes a deep breath, bites her bottom lip. Takes an extra minute just to make sure he’s listening.
“Where you want to be. So I’m in this. We’re in this together. And we’re going to be until you no longer want me. I’m not leaving til you make me. Til you can say it and mean it. We’re in this baby. You and me. That’s just the only way I’ll let it be. So we’ll get through this. If you believe in me, just believe we’ll get through this.”