The Female Body Paradox

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*Trigger Warning

I am a beautifully disgusting paradox. I am a bouquet of fresh farmer’s market irises and a gaping wound ripped open by the hands of men. I am fresh linen and old, hidden blood. I am pulsing and alive and silent. I want to scream but there are foreign hands in my mouth. I am trapped in my body.

I dated a boy in high school who was my first boyfriend, my first kiss, the first boy to hold my naked body for what he wanted it to be. But he wanted my body for what it couldn’t be. He pulled my sleeves over my cuts and ignored my blood. He loved my wit and humor but despised the chemicals swimming around in my brain causing me to hide in my bed, wet and shaking. He asked my body to eat the expensive food that he bought for it when my stomach had not felt weight in two days. He screamed at my mind for the workings of my body. He screamed at my body for the workings of my mind. But he loved my mind and he hated my body, and he hated my mind and he loved my body.

I let a boy into my clean, girly room and onto the pillows that my parents had bought me. It had only been my first three days of college. He took off all of my clothes and left his shirt on. He was fast and angry and aggressive and deliberate and warm and dry and huge and imposing and painful. He asked me if I was ready and I didn’t respond. I wasn’t ready. Blood came screaming down my legs. I had never cried after sex before.

“I don’t want to hear shit about this.” I don’t want to think about your smooth, aching body that I was so angry to access.

I lived next to a boy in my dorm who I felt was like a brother.  He was dating my best friend. We played catch with his worn-out baseball gloves and with our mutual enjoyment of a simple activity. One night at 1:30AM I let him into my room because he wanted to talk. His breath was hot and his weight was too much on the end of my bed. He lays down next to me and his heart beats into my back. He reaches up the front of my shirt, down the front of my pants. No. “You have such a good body.” No. “You can take off your pants and just be in your underwear; I don’t mind.” No. “I am so fucking drunk.” He smelled as sickly sweet as a body after sex. After I told her, he blamed me for existing, for my breasts and their ability to attract foreign hands to their surface without asking. He blamed me for being asleep in my bed and my body curving to the contours of my sweaty sheets.

I used to fuck this boy who told me lies. He held my hands and kissed my face and gave me a pile of cards on my birthday. He took me out to eat with his mom and he continued to hold my hands and kiss my face. I took him to meet my parents and he shook my brother’s hands and looked them in their eyes and I once again held his hands and kissed his face. He was inside my body almost like clockwork. A week after we fucked for the last time, he told me that he did not want to see me anymore, could not see me anymore, could not bear to think of my bare body curled around his own, moments before he met my mother. A day later, he was in a committed relationship. Now he can never look me in the eye.

I hooked up with a boy who was an English major and we talked about our favorite dog-eared books and computer games from the 90s. He was the one who grabbed my body first. He was the one who put his tongue in my mouth first. He asked for my body and I gave it to him. He held my thighs and gave me bruises the sizes of fingers and four-leaf clovers and told me a day later that he did not want me physically; he had a girlfriend.

But will you have breakfast with me tomorrow morning?” My body is only acceptable when you ask for it or when you want to put powdered sugar in my mouth.

My brother had Leukemia when he was nine and I was six. The statistics for this disease are terrifying. He was terrified. I was terrified. I was his bone marrow donor. We were terrified. My blood and marrow is alive in his body. Thirteen years later on Christmas Eve, my brother looks at the space between my socks and my skirt and tells me to stop dressing and acting like such a slut. My blood and marrow is alive in my body – my slut body – and his body. Our bodies. We are both alive, but I feel dead.

My body lifts boxes and cans and frozen strawberries but I’m not allowed to bare the knees that allow me to function. Bending is only allowed for what they want it for.

I eat baby spinach and flax seeds but I rip open the skin the men have touched without loving. I build my body with proteins and powders and pills and potions just to have it peeled apart. I plant myself to be picked. People reach and grasp at my clothing and scream at me to cover up. We are expected to have babies and be mommies and never sweat or release blood from between our legs. Our breasts feed and nourish, but are meant to be hidden.

We are begged to lift our shirts above our heads and our skirts below our knees but are screamed at for existing.
We hear this beautifully disgusting paradox whispered into our ears and between our legs and onto the palms of our hands. We are sweet and salty and wet and smooth and perfect and dimpled and so absolutely unreal. This is what they want.  But this is what they hate. We try so hard to exist. We are beautifully disgusting, but we are disgustingly beautiful.

Written by Erin Roux

Photo from here.

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