And so it seams

This is a guest post by Brenda Mendez, an alumna from CLRJ’s Latinas Empowered for Action (LEA) program in recognition of Denim Day 2013

As I brush my fingertips across my lips,
I can’t fathom the pain that surges from the pulling and gripping
at my hips.
I use my upper body strength
to push my legs away from the sleeves
of those coarse, cruel pair of jeans.
Rubbing against my thighs
was not my own pair of hands, but a different set that
felt novel
to the removal of
the layers I carry with me each day.
Checked out were both my mind and body.
Checked out was the looming figure on top who forced himself on me.

The striking of each second was not lonesome; it never is
because what accompanied time was the striking suspense
that came with my yearning to find out what happens next.

Your unforeseen hands
gripping my hips,
holding me down
so that you can slip your coarse, cruel self in me.
What made you worthy enough to claim that
my failure to speak against
your premeditated move
was what you assumed to be my consent?

The periodic movements
of your heavy limbs
over my dead weight frame
damaged me within,
my pain and shock seeping through my pores,
filling in the pavement cracks with
disintegrated particles of the sex
I long abhor.

You confused my body to be
one to abuse,
“complicit” for your complacency.
Re-circulating and perpetuating
what they’re claiming I am.
She’s too “easy”; too “uptight.”
“She asked for it.”
“She shouldn’t have spread her legs.”
“She should loosen up a little bit.”
She’s too blame, not him.
It’s not his fault; it never is
when the world continues to invest
in a “man’s conquests”
rather than focus on
the survivor’s endurance.

Now, you’re the “victim”
in this despicable game
that champions your actions
but never her name.
Let’s put a face
to all the young and older men who are
conditioned and exposed to messages
on how to be “tough,” how to be “masculine.”

My distressed jeans
are more than a fashion statement.
They are the materialized testimony
of the violence you’ve inflicted my body with.
The tears and holes torn by your blade-like finger nails,
worn out by your sandpapered palms.
Is this what you desired?
Leaving not only my outer, but inner self distressed and disheveled.
Remember to check your privilege quite regularly to see if you have what you wanted.
Continue shaving it down so all that appears is a bare reflection
of how you’ve adhered to masculinity misconceptions

and realize just how much you too have been inflicted.

You “managed” my consent
just as yours has been managed to achieve
what the systems in place want you to believe.
So how then do we both speak against this
calculated and disproportionate reality?

We tear out the seams of its coarse material,
prevent its rigidity from imprinting itself in our lives.
Rise against in upheaval to what is deemed static,
and refashion non-violence and truth against the systematic havoc.

As I brush my fingertips across my lips,
I understand my ability to voice my truths.
I was never silenced, I was only misled
because what I am is not voiceless.