I am done with my body being a site for people-pleasing.
Running to the far end of town.
Using my mouth to satisfy.
Using my ears to listen to empty, egoic words.
For all my life, my body has belonged just as much to others as to myself—just as much to society as to myself—and you will never know what that feels like: to have the most rudimentary evidence of your own existence belong to someone else.
No wonder my protests catch in my throat. No wonder I pave conversations with attempts at pleasing. When my own body doesn’t belong to me, how can I trust that anything else does?
The simplicity of your relationship to your body feels beautiful and naive. It is your tool to use, to groom, to train. Your bodily decisions are as barren of repercussion as “whole wheat or rye?” A freedom I can’t imagine.
So when you ask me, “Why do you shave your pussy?” and expect a simple answer, that expectation creates a chasm between us. I will not compress the totality of my experience into a sugar pill that you can swallow.
“You’re selfish not to shave.”
“Why do you shave your pussy? I love body hair.”
“I love women totally shaved. I’ve got enough body hair for the both of us.”
Your preferences are invalid. You have no idea the plagues of men this body has defended against, pleased, bent for, bowed for, shaped its very form for. So while you recline on your bar stool and tongue the olive from your martini and tell me that you “don’t like body hair,” my oceans of experience billow before me in a seething black storm.
And it’s not just you. It’s not just “men like you.” The man who smelled of lavender, who held me tenderly, who spoke like poetry, also asked me, “Why do you shave? Why would you get rid of your you-ness?”
So simple to him: why conform to the patriarchy when you don’t have to? So simple to buck the trend, apparently, as I lay beside him bare as a baby.
Inside, I screamed:
Do you know how many years this body has been trained to seek your casual approval?
How many times I counted out my noodles on the countertop, ran until my knees rattled in their sockets, tied back my hair and retched into the toilet?
Do you understand the series of men, strangers, family, and lovers who narrow their eyes at passing women, commenting crudely on their sizes?
Can you imagine how my body shimmered with gold the first time I walked into a bar and felt a speck, a scrap, of power, as men’s eyes turned to look, finally, subtly saying, “You passed our test”?
How after years, it finally felt like my hard work “paid off,” and now another, more private part of my body is being offered up for your interpretation?
How can my body be a tool for the actualization of my own desires when it’s so damn exhausted from pleasing everyone else?
Tell me: what’s next?
What is left?
What is mine?
What is mine?