they call us boys and girls.
And there’s no wiggle room in titles like that.
And maybe it feels a little suffocating,
and maybe it feels right.
But I grew up, found my curves and my voice—
hair in the places we’re not allowed to talk about.
And all I hear about are, even now, all these men
Like while they were busy growing up,
I got stuck in this prepubescent wet dream,
where boys with hungry hands run fingers
down my hairless thighs
and leave humid breaths at the seam of my neck.
I noticed men have this way
of using infantile language like love poems.
You’re his “girl”—
You’re always gonna be his “girl”
He rattles it off like the sweetest kind of promise,
and dresses you up in your best doll clothes,
and this is what you’ve got.
This is what you’re given.
Ladies! How many of your fathers ever told you
you would always be Daddy’s Little Girl,
even after you were paying your own mortgage?
And exactly how many eight year old boys
have watched fathers go off to work,
go off to war,
to get told they’re man of the house, now.
Even though they’ve got two older sisters,
with high school diplomas,
even though they’ve got a mother
with hands made of the same kind of marble
they build monuments out of—
That little boy, can’t even reach over the counter,
that little boy, he’s a man, now.
I don’t know how many years I’m expected
to stave off the rougher parts of womanhood.
I gotta buff out my wrinkles,
I gotta paint on my face.
They don’t get to see all of the things that make me.
See, I’ve got these beautiful stretch marks
that break like creamy tributaries
over my thighs.
So I wanna know, what makes me girl
and what makes me woman?
And how come I’m not the one
who gets to decide?
- Girl, by Ashe Vernon (via latenightcornerstore)