I’m out for a walk. It’s late at night and I should be locked inside my house like a good girl, a smart girl, but after a week of advice about how us “gals” should clench an aspirin between our knees and call it contraception, how we should be subjected to pre-abortion vaginal ultrasounds, how our health issues should be debated by a panel of men without a single female representative, a walk alone after dark feels like an act of rebellion.
I am one small fist, shaking at the sky. One small nothing of a person in a sea of bigger, louder, stronger people who would move heaven and earth to get inside me and then treat my body like collateral damage.
But that’s what men do, you say, I don’t need to go along. It’s entirely up to me to keep my knees together though it’s man’s divine mission to part them. I should be virtuous, impervious, an angel in white. And if you talk to me in that deep, sweet way you have, that way that melts my hinges, if you coax and cajole and seduce me, it’s not your fault. You’re doing what men do. I should do what women do: resist. Every man, every time, because if I don’t there may be consequences. No consequences for you, of course, because it’s not your problem. If I would keep my heart to itself and my pleats neatly pressed and my goddamn knees together, this great country of ours could return to its former glory, when white men ruled the world and a woman “in trouble” would drop out of sight for three months and then reappear, slender and saintly once more, or bloodied (deservedly, though it saddens you) after she’d maimed herself trying to rip your seed from her body with a coat hanger.
Now, now, you say, calm yourself. We don’t do that anymore. We only want to slow you down, shame you with this eye on a wand in the hopes that maybe, if we look closely enough at the source of the problem, we can see where the screws came loose and tighten them. Be still, let us investigate. Let us see what can be done.
(You’re dying to know what’s in there, aren’t you? Desperate to know from whence the siren calls and how to make it stop.)
And what if something did happen tonight while I’m out for a walk. Would you say I deserved it? Would you say I’ve become too fast and too free? If Uncle Hal finds my door unlocked at night, is that also my fault? Is it always, every time, my responsibility to keep out of your way? Is it always yours to control me?
Let me tell you, Foster Friess and Rick Santorum and the rest of you sanctimonious hypocrites to the right of Rush Limbaugh, I am small and my voice is tiny but it belongs to me. I will part my knees when it suits me and I will fall on them if my lover asks me and I will wear a corset under my scrubs and a garter under my skirt and I will lift that skirt when and if it pleases me.
I may be donning stilettos, but you’ll never catch me.
(Comments are off for this one. I seem to be foaming at the mouth and don’t want to inflict myself on my friends.)