Her smooth limbs tangle with mine in the morning light. Together we glow. We laugh and hold our legs in the air admiring the strength of our feet, the turn of our ankles, the shapeliness of our calves, the bumps in our knees, the musculature of our quads. Her toes look like long, skinny mushrooms. I have hobbit feet without all the hair (except for that little patch on my big toes that I secretly shave in the shower). She kisses the spot between my neck and shoulder, the one that sends chills racing all the way down to my hairless toes. I turn and kiss her mouth. “This is an act of protest,” I tell her. Our bodies dance. How do two women have sex? I always laugh when people ask me this. How don’t we?
I like her handsome beauty and the snug, masculine fit of her clothes. She tells me about the woman who yelled at her to get out of the bathroom, who told her she didn’t belong. I ask her if it happens to her frequently, being misgendered. “What’s frequently?” she asks, before breaking down her statistics into monthly, weekly and daily occurrences depending on where she is in the world.
Femme invisibility, while often resulting in a societal devaluation rooted in misogynistic subjugation, can, conversely, also mean safety from homophobic violence. Safety is a privilege and while there is no truly safe way to be a woman in America, there are ways to be safe(r) – being cis, white and femme are a few of them. I’ve only been misgendered once, during a time in my life when I wore a lot of pants and had a bad haircut. When it happened to me, I was also using the restroom when a woman poked me on the shoulder to tell me I was in the wrong place and that if I didn’t leave she was going to get her husband. “No, ur-ine the wrong place!” I thought maybe the pun would lessen my rage at the prejudicial politics of piss. It didn’t – I also told her to go fuck herself.
When some people have sex with each other, they have to worry about getting pregnant on accident. Queer women have a conversation about babies on the third date, talk about who wants to carry and discuss preferences regarding procurement and delivery method of necessary baby-making ingredients into the baby-making bodyspace. Some adopt. Some don’t want babies at all. Personally, I’m really just looking for someone who’ll go get me chocolate ice cream and pickles at 3 a.m. – pregnant or not. Until then, I’ll be sexing it up without making babies and asking my dog if he prefers chicken or turkey for dinner.
My oldest friend in the world is pregnant with her second baby. Her first is pretty much a dream – a healthy, chunky little thing with her father’s eyes and her mother’s silly faces. I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little obsessed. My friend’s husband is honest, good and kind (and whether or not he knows it, an intersectional feminist). I’m thankful not only that my friend has an incredible and supportive partner to raise her children with, but that her children will have parents who love and support them. My hope for all babies is that they never question that they are loved, and that they begin learning from day one how to love other people.
While my hopes are great, I also worry about the world that we’re going to leave to these babies. What impact will global climate change have on their lives and on the lives of their babies? Will they have enough food to eat, clean water to drink and air to breathe? What new wars will be fought over resource scarcity? And who will teach them how to play Settlers of Catan?
The same day my oldest friend told me that she’s having her second baby, another texted to thank me for taking care of her last year after she had an abortion. She wasn’t ready for a child. She’s not even sure she wants to have kids at all. Her boyfriend tried to talk her out of it and refused to go with her to the procedure. Her mother disowned her. She was embarrassed to tell her friends. She didn’t want to be that girl, to be slut shamed for having sex with her boyfriend, to answer the same questions over and over again. “Didn’t you use a condom?” “What about the pill?” “Why don’t you have an IUD?” She knew I used to work for Planned Parenthood, so she called me and I went with her. Later, I held her on her living room couch as she wept. I asked her if she regretted her decision, “No, I’m so thankful,” she told me. “I’m so thankful.”
Do you remember the first time a man took agency over your body? Do you remember the last? Have you stopped keeping track? I have. It’s a self protection mechanism. The other day I growled and bit my teeth at a man on the train home who looked me up and down and licked his lips. He stopped staring after that. That was a self protection mechanism too.
A few days ago, millions of women around the world marched.
They marched in response to a president and administration for whom the very existence of millions of Americans – black, brown, trans, queer, Muslim, immigrant, disabled, poor, woman – is a protest.
Streets around the world filled with pink pussy hats. “We are naaaaasty women,” they cried. Marching and chanting is empowering, it’s exciting, it’s fun!
But, it isn’t enough.
Not all pussies are pink and you don’t have to have one to be a woman. Janet Jackson talked about being nasty long before it became associated with Hillary Clinton. And 53% of white women still voted for Donald Trump – yes, you, in the pink pussy hat, I see you.
We cannot overcome white male supremacy until we address, unravel and destroy the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny woven throughout our culture, history, and institutions. (Do you hear me, white women?) It’s hard work. It’s necessary work. It’s heartbreaking, soul straining, exhausting, frustrating, important, non-negotiable work.
My parents are two of the hardest working people that I’ve ever met, their hands are rough and knotted from use and all of their “hobbies” include things that are really just different types of work. My mother is sick and my father’s work boots haven’t been worn to a factory in well over a year. They, like so many other people around the country, especially in rural areas, are getting by. Two days after being rushed to the hospital for a heart issue, my father was standing on a ladder to fix the roof. When I asked him to please rest, to please take care of himself, he said that the roof wasn’t going to fix itself and he couldn’t rest with a leaky roof.
America, our home is broken and it isn’t going to fix itself. We have a convenient way of forgetting that our country, our home, was largely built by black and brown people, immigrants, and poor people and that every step of the way they were told that this home was not for them. We forget that our foundation lies on the bodies of slaves and native peoples and that for every advancement we have made, a gaping hole has been left in the walls, the roof and the support beams, each time someone has been told that they do not belong – whether in a bathroom, a bus seat, a clinic or a mosque.
We’ve taken strides over the years and through the hard fought actions of many, we have begun to patch some of those holes. The White House and Congress are currently held by a group of people working to dismantle and destroy everything that we, as a country, have worked so hard to build.
And I don’t know about you, but I can’t rest because my existence, and the existence of those I care about, is an act of protest. So, self care, practice active resistance and resist, because our home needs fixed.