To My Nieces,
You’re the closest thing I have to skin daughters, so I figured we should have this talk.
Since I will always be honest with you, you need to understand how angry I am right now. A rage was planted in me in October 1996, the first time I was raped, and I’ve struggled to control that rage ever since. Therapy helps, running helps, dogs help, a partner who really loves me and believes me helps. But everything that’s happened over the past few weeks has ripped the wounds of 1996 and 2001 wide open and as much healing as I’ve done personally, my rage is supplanted from the individuals who violated me to the systems that violate oppressed peoples in this country.
The thing is, I don’t just live in a body that’s a crime scene, I live in a country that’s one.
Most of the things you will be taught to believe about America are lies.
This country was built on the backs of slaves and immigrant laborers on land stolen from indigenous people.
There is no even playing field. There never was. There may be someday, if we don’t turn the Earth into a hell scape not capable of supporting life because we turned the planet to fire.
I’ll support the idea that hell is real based on that assumption. Although I say assumption, dig a little and you’ll find plenty of science to support that. Dig while you can. Learn everything. If you like math, study like a beast, no matter what the boys might say. I was in a classroom once when the teacher asked if any of the boys wanted to date a girl who was smart than he was. Half the class was guys and only one guy raised his hand.
You job isn’t to make the boys feel better about themselves, it’s to be the best you, whatever that means to you.
You will be treated differently than your brothers. More will be expected of you in many situations, while much less will be expected of you in others.
They will tell you your body was never meant to belong to you.
Because you will be women, men will work to legislate your bodies to death. Literally.
They will plant the idea that your body belongs to your father until it belongs to your husband.
They are wrong. You are solely in possession of your body, no matter who you love or how you express that love.
You all carry the privilege of whiteness, but that doesn’t mean you need to be messengers for the patriarchy. It’s easy to run back to the privilege cave when you feel safe enough. The fact of the matter is that a system that demands your silence and compliance in the face of injustice was never meant to protect you.
You were never meant to have a voice.
You were meant to be silenced.
Some will cloak that demand for silence with the words polite or ladylike. And your sisters of color who speak out against oppression will get the angry label.
Because being female and being angry is bad.
At least that’s what they want you to believe.
Because they never meant for you to have a voice.
They meant for you to be silenced.
Rage with the fire of a thousand suns.
Own your passion and your fury.
Work with your brothers and sisters of color, with your queer friends, with your allies. Don’t be complicit. The old guard will fight like hell to keep their power and you may be tempted in the comfort of that, but you’ll just be a pawn in their game, like Bobby said.
I just want better for you. I can’t protect you from the world, but I’ll try to make it a better world for you.