Tainted

A Poem By Erin // 5/5/2017

***MAY CONTAIN POTENTIALLY OFFENSIVE/MATURE CONTENT*** :)

1. Token

every time someone starts talking about
gender roles
feminism
my stomach tenses up because
I can feel the tongue of every boy
in the room
rising up to contradict
saying “but I respect women!”

I remember every time my guy
friends made a rape joke or
looked at some girl’s a** and said
“I’d tap that” and I
would always laugh even though the pit
of my stomach was sick
because I didn’t want to be the
token feminist
and every time they’d trash some girl
for speaking her mind and say
sexism isn’t real and
the pay gap is so minimal it’s
not even worth mentioning
I would pretend my lips were
sealed with letter wax
my thoughts could be
sent to a better time
and every time I
accepted their comments and
took it all in stride because
I’m a “chill” girl
I thought of how they had no idea
how many of their female friends
have been raped.
or how they were not there when
men have shoved me against walls and
sucked on my neck and
grabbed at my body while I tried to
find an escape route
or how
they have never had to worry
about walking at night because
no one would be able to hurt them
or how everyone tells me to be careful
or “take a guy with you!”
or how when I went across the country my
parents felt safer that I took a boy
with me because they were afraid that
a pretty girl would be unsafe on her own
and how I hated them because I knew it was true

2. Fresh

the sort of intertwining
tangling up can’t be
too close, skin
on the small of my
soft stomach
face buried into
the crook of my neck and
things have never been better
than right now
with his
arms around my waist and
his sleeping breath on
my ear

3. Wrong

how my skin must have
hummed under his fingers but
I know it didn’t feel the same
as hers did

4. Exposure

sometimes I don’t like my own skin
because it is seen as vulnerable
because too many men have touched it
because the purple handprints they have left
as a gift on my thighs is a reminder of the mechanism
through which they tainted me

Comments

Thank you for opening up and

Thank you for opening up and sharing these with us! I really loved finding the little instances of rhyme in Token, odd as that word is to use given the subject matter. They were like treats sprinkled throughout, and I don't know if that was intentional, but I really enjoyed that...the poem felt very linear, and though it was straightforward, it still has some lovely moments of metaphor, and some great imagery.

This part was a favorite (I bolded the rhymes I was talking about):

looked at some girl’s a** and said
“I’d tap that” and I
would always laugh even though the pit
of my stomach was sick
because I didn’t want to be the
token feminist

I think if you get to reading this with the right rhythm, it really elevates the poem...it took me a couple tries to get there, but when I did, it was very excellent.

2, 3, and 4 were written so intimately, especially when contrasted with the previous poem, which was also personal--but these looked personal, they felt personal with the prose and the length of the lines and the way that they tuck into themselves, if that makes any sense.

Really lovely work!! Congrats on the end of your second year, YAY!

Madeline | Fri, 05/05/2017

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your comment! The rhyming wasn't exactly intentional, but I'm glad you pointed it out. I've been watching a lot of slam poetry recently and that poem kind of mimics the way poems are orally delivered, if that makes sense, so I probably picked up the rhythm from watching videos haha.
And thank you!! And congratulations on the end of your first year!!

Erin | Fri, 05/05/2017

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Beautiful!

The first one was great -- so many of us women could identify, being in a female's body and feeling vulnerable, and having to face a world where sexism and misogyny is so prevalent... and also, I could almost feel some guilt (unless I was projecting) in your words about not speaking out. But I completely understand. It's so hard. "Sealing wax" was an AWESOME visual that really struck me. Sucked was also a great word to use, because it made me think of something vile instead...like a suckerfish. And I liked how you used "chill", too -- you want to be casual, nonchalant -- but a colloquialism was good.
Anyway, I identified completely with this. The next book I write, I was thinking of making it a "body book" -- what it feels like to live in a woman's body in this world. And how to wade through the muck, and express the complicated emotions (rage, fear, joy, etc), and find some kind of peace and happiness.

Number two had a "fresh" quality itself -- it was very light, sweet. Left me feeling peaceful. I liked the "soft stomach".

Number three -- ugh.

Number four -- So gutsy to write these poems! Thank you SO much for sharing, Erin! <3 Again, I identify completely and these words and emotions need to be said. I appreciate you expressing them so honestly. It just kind of unlocked something in me and prepared me for the next few chapters I have to write... Seeing someone else write about similar topics always gives permission to another. I appreciate your bravery!

....also, now I have a sudden desire, separate from enjoying this from a literary standpoint, to make you feel better haha. I wish I could.

Sarah Bethany | Sat, 05/06/2017

You're so kind! I think that

You're so kind!

I think that the idea of the "body book" would be so interesting! I took literary theory and criticism this semester and we talked about "body theory", which basically looks at how bodies are represented and what that says about our thought toward what is considered the norm. It was super interesting. I'm also writing my final paper for that class about how the women in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying are either represented as "just bodies", or in the case of one particular evangelical housewife, "bodiless", and how they are basically reduced to the category of subhuman as result. That's a bit of a tangent, but the phrasing "body book" made me think of it, haha.

I'm glad that these gave you some sense of validation! I'm looking forward to the upcoming chapters of Trousers!

Erin | Sat, 05/06/2017

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I actually wrote my senior

I actually wrote my senior thesis paper on communication in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying ^.^ That is fascinating, the idea that being "bodiless" relegates a person to the category of sub-human... but it makes total sense. There's a feeling of death, not being alive, I think, when people are disconnected from their own bodies. And when people don't respect other people's bodies, or see them as "just" bodies, that's when they treat others as sub-human. It's amazing how important physicality is. I do think I'll write this book one day -- but I feel like it will take some gumption because it's not a topic I see widely written about, and it can be awkward if very personal (which I plan on making it) (haha, both awkward and personal lol)

Again, awesome poetry

Sarah Bethany | Sun, 05/07/2017

Erin, if any of this is

Erin, if any of this is autobiographical, if guys really have shoved you around, if "purple handprints" is a reference to bruises - you need to fill out a police report. If you haven't already. The stuff mentioned here - specifically in poems 1 and 4 - are 100% unacceptable. No woman should ever tolerate this kind of thing.

Stay safe, girl! You never, ever have to tolerate men treating you like this. Whether it's a rape joke or outright abuse.

To any young girls on this site who may have read these - this kind of abusive behavior from men is absolutely intolerable and illegal.

Hannah D. | Mon, 05/08/2017

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - G. K. Chesterton

Thank you for your comment! I

Thank you for your comment! I should have mentioned in the description that many of the things brought up in these (shoving/rape jokes, etc) happened a long time ago before I knew how to stand up for myself properly. While catcalls and inappropriate comments are still often a part of my life, that's about as bad as it gets. Also, only parts of these are autobiographical--other parts stemmed from abuse from which other women in my life have suffered. You are absolutely correct in saying that this behavior is unacceptable! While I have mostly been fortunate enough to find a way out of dangerous situations, I have known too many women who have been emotionally manipulated/abused by men for sometimes years at a time. Us women definitely need to band together and keep abusers accountable for their actions!
However, there is no need to be concerned about me :) I am fine. Thank you!

Erin | Mon, 05/08/2017

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I appreciate your voice

Erin, I love how you are able to write about such heavy topics. Thank you for sharing, I think these were really well done and raw!
I especially relate to Token, as I'm sure most girls do- hate having to have an "escort" for safety purposes... hate the fear and distrust involved in that.
Anyways, love this! thank you for sharing!

Kassady | Wed, 06/14/2017

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

Thank you for reading! Yes,

Thank you for reading! Yes, my friend and I were talking just last night about how the parents of another friend of ours want her to live with boys if she lives off campus, because it would make them feel safer. And then how often, traveling with boys does feel safer because we are less exposed. For instance, when I went to NYC with my dad a few years ago, no guy even so much as looked twice at me because my dad is a pretty burly guy lol, but women who walked on their own just feet from us were being harassed and catcalled. So frustrating!

Erin | Thu, 06/15/2017

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Just reading these and wanted

Just reading these and wanted to pop in and say YES YES YES to everything!! I was walking with my Mom last summer when someone yelled something just ugh but it's never happened with my dad/brothers present. So gross! It's horrible that we live in a society where we can't walk alone without fear, or without our guards being up, at the very least. It's problematic but the best thing you can do to help rectify it is to call attention to it!

Madeline | Thu, 06/15/2017

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Erin, could I have your email

Erin, could I have your email address? Or could you email me at sbtheresa@yahoo.com? Wanted to ask you something!!

Sarah Bethany | Sun, 06/18/2017

certainly! I'll email you

certainly! I'll email you right now.

Erin | Sun, 06/18/2017

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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