I. You lose your favorite bra
you wore it once
so what, it was black and sleek and soft,
so what, it was forty dollars at the mall,
so what, you’re a glowing ball of light
bras are polyester and plastic
you can be seen from space, your electrical tape soul,
your spine, braided up with golden twine,
Just an undergarment on the laundry room floor.
II. I wake up and regret it,
push my butt out to the wall,
moon the solid and unforgivable,
white and plastered cold, like cement, but
more unfamiliar to the bottoms of feet.
III. Most days a belting song is
floating between my collarbones
heat red and orange
and I am one slow eye closing away from
sore jaw, eternally,
the rest of time with the ghost of a gumball between
IV. I keep losing things and I want to cry out my
fingernails, pull them each out like thorns and line them up
all pretty on my windowsill, painted thick lavender,
purposeless in pink.
V. Each color separates itself so neatly,
each noise so itself,
each waking breath, a gamble.
i don’t want to get out of bed today—
but not like that.
I had to tell him to stop,
take himself out of me,
because I was so in my head that my whole body tensed-
rejected his love, I had to leave—
but not like that.
I’m so hungry but I have no money
but not like that,
I’m so tired and there aren’t enough hours in the day,
I don’t even do that much,
I don’t even do that well,
I don’t even win anything I try
I want to murder her—
but not like that,
just in a ten second burning geyser in my chest way
in a white hot metal slicing between my heart and lung way
in a if anybody had to die it should be her way
but not like that
not like that
not like that.
If a woman is sexually overt is she still feminist? It’s a question that…obviously for me, the answer is yes. But also in a larger sense, I’m not interested in policing feminism either. I have such a problem with the idea of people saying things like, ‘Oh she’s not feminist because of blah blah blah.’
Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist. And I just feel like we live in a world where more people need to be saying it and we shouldn’t be looking to pull people out of the feminist party. And I think the reason I find myself reacting so strongly to questions of female sexuality is…there’s something very disturbing to me about the idea that a woman’s sexuality somehow is not hers. So when certain feminists who will say, it’s about the male gaze, it’s for the man, there a kind of a self-censoring about that that’s similar to what they’re fighting.
So as long as women have the choice…why shouldn’t women own their sexuality? Why shouldn’t a woman who does whatever with her sexuality identify as feminist?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Quote is from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Defends Beyoncé: ‘Whoever Says They’re Feminist is Bloody Feminist’ on Clutch Magazine, referring to Chimamanda’s defense of Beyoncé and feminism itself, especially for black women.
Some white women are using racism and unfortunately some fellow black women are using the politics of respectability (which connects to performing acceptability for the White Gaze anyway) to determine who is feminist or not, where more than anything, sexuality is the rubric. Feminism is not a club where some women get to approve the membership of others, especially when this approval is based on the very same type of oppression that a feminist should seek to dismantle. This doesn’t make Beyoncé’s or even Chimamanda’s feminism perfect. But this right off the bat "X is not a feminist because they are black or because they are not "respectable" thing is utter crap. Even black female artists deemed “respectable” like Janelle Monáe reject the politics of respectability altogether and have womanist messages in their music.
Owning sexuality means that presentation, experience, desire, and sexual orientation (including asexual as a sexual orientation) is acceptable to that person and expressed or not expressed however they choose. It is not one-sided where whatever is deemed “respectable” is “feminist” or whatever is overtly sexual only in response to what is deemed “respectable” is “feminist.” It is rejecting reacting to binaries and a clear anti-oppressive stance on sexuality.
Now, I know the quote itself appears ”generic" so many white women will be eager to erase my commentary so that Chimamanda’s words can center them, since "women" is always read as "white." Of course doing so will once again prove my point about racism and feminism. Such is the irony. Race cannot be erased from intersectionality.
I’m lying in bed and all I see is passive
aggression, turn the fan off rage,
open the window contempt,
I’m lying in bed and all I want is to
breathe in my sheets until they’re sucked down into
my lungs, make a bed in my ribcage,
carve a cozy home above my pelvis because I’m
tired of two p.m. breakfast and
changing in the dark
done with DPS, with balloons she’s kept since
Valentine’s Day, I’ll sign my housing contract with
blood and let it drip upon the carpet,
take my O negative negligence
lap up my extraordinary I don’t care
call my bluff
ask me to close the blinds and I will,
the skin of my palms peeling off and sticking to the
pane, my fingernails dropping like spare change onto the
sill, ask me to stuff my pillow down my throat and
sing, ask me to cry queiter,
choke to death in a lounge, please, I’m trying to
write an essay, I’ll put your cell phone in my mouth and
bank on brain cancer,
pray for me, pray for anything but this,
I look up at my garage sale christmas lights and
weep, weep for the dollar I wasted
the fluorescent discontent,
I look up at the ceiling and remember the ozone
the children, the whales,
I look up at the ceiling and plug in my headphones
—turn to stone, for I’m rooming with Medusa so I’ll
never have to look her
in the eye.