Trigger warning: Descriptions of sexual assault
Simple Steps to Turn My No into a Yes
(in response to Men’s Fitness article ‘How to Turn a No Into a Yes,’ June 2016)
I. At the bar
Buy me shots of fireball whiskey
when you see me watching a woman
on the dance floor.
When a man dances close behind me
asking me if I have a boyfriend,
grab me and kiss me,
protectively saying “She’s with me” even
as my friends pull me away from you.
II. On a date
Tell me you will come over at six,
and then don’t show.
Don’t talk to me for months until you see me again
Then, see above.
Take me out behind the pool hall;
kiss me Marlboro and whiskey
pressed up against your truck.
Take my hand and put it on you,
and when I shake my head no, sigh.
Tell me I’m the type of girl to bring home to mom,
not the type to date.
Say, “Call me when you’re not so uptight.”
Tell me I’ve never been any fun,
that you should have known that wouldn’t change.
III. In bed
Play classic rock loudly.
My trembling will be lost in the reverberation
and I won’t be able to hear my heartbeat
pounding fear in my chest
over the bass line.
Wait until we are with others
to push fingers up skirt;
you won’t have to ‘shush’ me this way.
I will already be too ashamed to speak.
Pretend my tears are happy ones,
or if that doesn’t work for you,
tell me I’m ugly when I cry and that it ruins the mood.
Imagine my knees pressed together and ankles interlocked
are because I’m a shy girl, timid, a prude;
that’s what you’ve told me, right?
If I ask you to stop, that it hurts,
punch the pillow next to my head
and yell that I can’t do that to you, that you have needs.
I’ll nod okay.
Tell yourself it’s because I like a man in control.
Say to me, “I’m in charge; tell me I’m in charge.”
Convince yourself I bite the pillow because it is so good,
not because of pain.
Tell me you can’t help yourself,
that I’m just too damn hot.
And then when you’re done get up,
toss a twenty on the bed and walk out.
Call me a whore;
say you don’t love me or respect me.
I’ll race after you to beg you to come back
to bed, to show you that I can be loveable.
IV. In a relationship
Tell me I am just like my mother.
Ask me why I can’t be any fun
and tell me I’ll never change.
Pour me white wine from a box
as I sit in the bath you ran, extra hot, just for me.
Watch as my eyes glaze and I walk a bit sideways
from bathroom to bed.
Tell me it is my fault,
that I should keep a frying pan by the bed
to hit you with, if I really don’t want it.
Since I don’t do that,
it must mean I’m just playing – that really I do want it.
Tell me you love me;
tell me you don’t.
Take candle and drip too-hot wax on belly
as I squirm,
red welts appearing.
Watch me bandage my burned and broken self
my hands, my feet, my body
and then tell me I shouldn’t play with fire.