The Maybe Manifesto

We are sick of agonizing over maybe. Maybe if we hadn’t worn makeup. Maybe if we had worn a sweater instead of a tank top. Maybe if we had taken a different way home. Maybe if we hadn’t gone to that party. Maybe if we hadn’t gone to school that day. Maybe if we had just locked ourselves in our room and hid under the blankets, maybe then, we wouldn’t have been grabbed, touched, molested, raped. We wouldn’t be stained by the invisible handprints left by someone who had forced themselves upon us, unwelcome hands under our shirts, under our bra, touching, fingers forced down our jeans, and into our underpants.

We were silenced. No amount of “no”, no amount of “stop”, no amount of “help!” was heard over the deafening sound of someone taking what they wanted from us. We were robbed. It was more than just an innocence stolen; it was trust torn in half. It was safety shattered.

It’s that feeling of never being clean. Walking down the street feeling absolutely filthy. Never taking enough showers, washing, rubbing, scrubbing, and tearing at our skin, trying to take it off just so we don’t have to feel dirty anymore because feeling this dirty is scary and exhausting. No, we can’t just forget one person’s actions against us. We don’t know that it will never happen again. We never even thought that it would happen once. We are bleeding from those “maybes” on the inside out because no matter how many times we have been told that it wasn’t, there is still a teeny tiny part of us that absolutely aches with the idea that it could have been our fault. There is no bandage big enough to stop this hurt. This wound does not heal.

We have been put in a situation where we are screwed. If we tell, we face the humiliation and fear of telling parents and friends that we couldn’t fight back hard enough to not let this happen to us. If we tell the police, we have to keep reliving the moment that our power was taken away again and again just so it can be put down on paper and made in to a case that if brought to trial, we could lose.

And if we don’t tell, it’s not like we stop reliving them. It’s not like this goes away. It’s not like every time someone gets too close to us on the train, or on the sidewalk, we don’t flinch. It’s not like a seemingly familiar face among the crowd doesn’t still take our breath away, after all this time, doesn’t make our eyes water, doesn’t make the fight or flight instinct inside us kick us right in the chest.

It’s not like we don’t always have to double check on that… that it wasn’t them watching you.

We are sick of watching everyone else. We are sick of anticipating everyone’s moves. We are sick of living in fear. We refuse to continue maintaining hyper-vigilance at all times because they cannot control themselves. They want to feel dominant over someone they have perceived as small and vulnerable. They want to act like animals. So let’s treat them like animals. Let’s lock them up in cages. Let’s muzzle them so they can’t speak. Let’s neuter them so they can’t impregnate and violate, and shove their only form of power down our throats or into our pants. Let’s put them to sleep because they are the sick and vicious kind of animal that infects and scars us with their bite.

We have to stop being victims to the maybes and start being survivors. It is not too much to ask that we are not attacked in public or private spaces. It is not too much to ask that hands be kept to themselves. It is not too much to ask that we are not molested or raped if we say “no”. It is not too much to ask to not rape or molest us, ever. It is not too much to ask that we are shown the respect and decency that we deserve just as people trying to live on this planet.

So we demand it. We demand to feel safe going to school, going to a party, getting on a train, and going home. We demand that our “no” is accepted.  We demand to never have a hand laid on us again with out our consent. We demand that if these demands are not met, that we have a right to put these predators in a cage, and to put them to sleep. We demand to feel safe in our own bodies. We demand to be heard when we scream. We demand to be seen as big. We demand our power and we demand it now.

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