Copyright Vicki Rivard 2017

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On Reclaiming Our Bodies & Our Stories | In Response to Me Too

October 20, 2017

Does it count?

 

When she's eight years old, in the bath, and her older male cousin walks in and watches her bathe and she says, “please leave” and she says, “stop looking at me like that” and his mom—her aunt—walks in and the girl tells her, “I don’t like him being in here” and the aunt nervously laughs and shoos him out of the room and responds, “oh he was just being a boy.”

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s twelve years old, navigating that tender space between childhood and adulthood, and the boys in her class have nicknames for her and all of her girlfriends based on the size of their developing breasts (“Dolly” for the really curvy ones) and they spend their days snapping bra straps, leaving marks.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 16 years old, sitting on the grass outside of her high school during lunch break, and a boy sits down close to her—too close to her—so she gets up to leave but he reaches out and grabs her left arm and twists it so hard that her ears start to ring and tears spring to her eyes and, when he finally lets go, he is smiling. 

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 18 years old, watching a movie at a friend’s house, and a guy she barely knows follows her into the bathroom, locks the door, and starts kissing her neck and she tries to push him away but she isn’t strong enough, and she says, “no, no, no” while his hand makes its way up her shirt and she doesn’t know what to do so she kisses him back a bit, keeping her eyes open, scanning the room, planning her escape, and then, by sheer luck, there is a knock at the door and she is saved.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 19 years old and in love with a girl and a guy she knows tells her that all he needs is one night "to make her straight again."

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 21, auditioning for a play, and the director asks her to sing and then to hike up her skirt a little and then loudly proclaims, to everyone in the room, “well, she can’t sing but she’s got great legs.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 22, walking home from class at dusk, and three guys start following her, whistling and cat-calling and saying things like, “slow down hot stuff, where’s the fire?” and she feels the fire in her legs, in her belly, in her head and she starts walking faster, but they do too and one of them yells out, “bitch” so she drops her bag and runs.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, dancing with friends at a bar, and a guy comes up and starts grinding her from behind and, at first, she goes along with it because, you know, “he’s just being a boy” and it’s just for fun, right? But the song ends and she tries to get away but he won’t let her, he follows her, grabs her, and tries to grind again and she says, “stop it” and he doesn’t so she yells, “STOP IT” and he doesn’t, and her friends notice that she's in trouble so they rush to her side and all yell,  “STOP IT” and finally, finally, finally he backs off and she is breathing hard and feels embarrassed and just wants to go home.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 25, posing for a group photograph with co-workers, and the one on her left—a man she barely knows—slowly lets his arm drop from her waist to her butt, and she says nothing because she’s not sure what to say, and when the photo has been taken, he gives her butt a squeeze and saunters away as though he owns her.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 26, opening a new store in a shopping mall, and decides to treat herself to a facial and the man giving her the facial—right there, in the middle of a crowded mall—starts rubbing himself on her leg and she is so shocked that she freezes. And he continues and she feels him getting harder and harder and she just sits there, frozen in that chair, silently screaming, while this man applies cream to her face and masterbathes against her body.

 

Does it count?

 

When she’s 28 and engaged to a kind-hearted man and another man—a casual acquaintance from the film world—sends her a text that reads: “I’ve been having dirty dreams about you.”

 

Does it count?

 

When she's 30, taking a walk with her baby and her dog, and a construction worker yells at her from across the street, "Now there's a mom I'd like to fuck."

 

Does it count? Does it count? Does it count? Does it count?

 

When does it start to count?

 

When she’s 31 and raped? 

 

No.

 

It counts, when she’s eight.

 

It counts before she’s eight. It counts when she’s in her mother’s womb. It counts even before then, when she's still a star in the sky and in her not-yet-mother's eye.

 

It always counts, because she always counts.

 

She, you, me. We always count. 

 

Let us remember this. Let us not be fooled into thinking we don't, anymore. Let us not be shamed into silence, ever again. 

 

We always count.

 

It always—always—counts.

 

 

 

 

[This piece appears on elephant journal, under the title Does it Count? Does it Count? Does it Count? Does it Count?]

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