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Dear Reader,

Welcome to MVMENT Magazine’s third issue!

It has always been my intent that the Letter from the Editor be not only an introduction to the issue and its pieces but also an extended conversation with our readers, writers, artists and base. In the past, we have had a unifying theme that has naturally evolved from the pieces that we received. This issue, however, has no underlying theme, because the pieces we received this month are more diverse than ever.

We are incredibly grateful to have amassed so much support so quickly, from high school and college communities all over the country. While our published issues are the public side of MVMENT, there is an extensive coordinated effort behind-the-scenes. In order to maintain the high standard that we set for ourselves while continuing to expand, we’re looking for other high school and college students interested in getting involved.

One way to get involved is content creation—this issue wouldn’t exist with the writers and artists who have shared their work and their stories with us. We welcome written submissions and artwork of most mediums, including video and audio. There are no restrictions on who can write; our editorial board is here to help your submissions reach their fullest potential. If you or anyone you know wants to be a part of driving change by sharing your story, opinion or visual work, you can talk to me directly at vkurup@mvmentmag.com or submit directly through our submit page. Students who are interested in joining our writing board and working on journalistic writing should reach out as well.

Additionally, we need individuals to help spread our message by becoming a part of the MVMENT board. We are looking for reliable people who are looking to educate and empower their communities to act as MVMENT liaisons or offer their skills in personal and public relations. Previous experience is not necessary, and we will do our best to tailor your placement into a department that best suits your skillset. For all positions, an application and/or interview may be required.

High school and college students who want to join our photography, art, literary, or design teams in order to have a hand in shaping the content of our next issues are needed as well. We want people who can help handle our digital image and work in teams to help design MVMENT’s infrastructure.

There are a range of commitments to MVMENT—some of you may want to dedicate hours every week to driving the project forward, while others may just want to be a part of the MVMENT community, even just by reading and sharing this issue. There are different roles to fit your time commitment abilities. If you want to deepen your commitment with MVMENT or have any questions about the roles, application or submission process, please email me directly at vkurup@mvmentmag.com.

But we still have a lot of improving to do. Going forward, we will be working to integrate more quality journalistic pieces into our issues so we can provide coverage of current events. We will explore more intersectional topics, like how race affects gender issues. We will work to ensure not only our board remains diverse as it grows but that our artwork and written pieces serve to empower marginalized groups rather than shout over them.

As we redouble our outreach efforts and continue our expansion, we hope to increase the frequency with which we deliver new content, whether by continuously rolling out submissions or publishing issues more frequently.

The idea behind our issues was to rethink what a magazine would mean in the digital age, where content is increasingly viewed on the small screens of our phones and tablets. We still have a lot of room to grow with our issue design themselves, and Issue 4 will feature some of those changes! But we also want to make it easier for our readers to find specific pieces by section or topic, to engage by commenting on individual pieces and sharing them with their communities, to view our increase in content in an effortless way. We are diligently working on such an infrastructure that keeps our current issues, but also includes the capacity to share all of our submissions, not just the select few that are included in each issue.

From the start, our goal has never just been to release pieces but to create a platform that people would want to engage with with quality content. Everything has been designed, coded, written, edited and produced by students, and it is this mission that will remain at the core of MVMENT. The following issue encompasses the experiences and stories of students; they could be your classmates, siblings, friends or children. While they are often difficult to read, they each deserve your attention.

Read. Engage. Discuss. The culture we live in can only survive in silence.


Vinayak Kurup
Editor In Chief

Trigger Warning

The writing, imagery, and other forms of expression below may contain explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, relationship abuse and other forms of personal violation.


I’m not just confused. I’m tired of people telling me that. It’s not a phase. I’m tired of people telling me that, too. I’m tired of people telling me that nature doesn’t make mistakes and that I have to accept myself the way I was born.

Unless you’re also trans, you cannot understand how I feel. Yeah, everyone has something they want to change about their body, but there’s a difference between wanting abs or feeling like your nose is too big and needing to vomit every time you look in a mirror.

People ask me why I can’t just put on a dress and feel better. Well, I do feel better when I put on a dress, but sometimes I need to take a shower, and sometimes I need to sleep. Sometimes I need to look in a mirror. A dress can’t change what reproductive system I was born with or what hormones are in my body. If you think that redoing my outfit can undo my identity, then you’re either painfully misinformed or just an insensitive asshole.

Then there are bathrooms. Thank you, North Carolina, for bringing this issue into the limelight. My gender identity does not make me a sexual predator. Just because I experience gender dysphoria doesn’t mean I want to have non-consensual sex with your children. My gender has nothing to do with my sexuality. If I go into a women’s bathroom, it is not because I want to be around women going to the bathroom. It is because I want to go to the bathroom, and I am a woman. You would be confused to see a woman walk into a men’s room, or a man walk into the ladies room, right? I would be.

Then there’s the, “You’ll always just be a man dressed up as a woman” line or the idea that I’m just a drag queen. There’s not much to be said about that other than: go talk to a real live trans person. Not a drag queen, not a guy who dresses in women’s clothing—not to disparage either, but just to say that those are different from being trans. Talk to a trans person who identifies as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. We are just as much real women and men as women and men who were assigned those labels when they were born. I’m serious. Every time I hear people talk about trans people as something different than the gender they actually are, it is evident that they have never actually encountered one of us in the flesh. I can’t blame you for not having met a trans person before; we’re few and far between, only about 1.4 million in America. That being said, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, do everyone a favor and either educate yourself, or shut the fuck up and stop putting more falsehoods out into the world.

In the same vein, don’t ask what parts I have. Don’t ask me anything that you would be uncomfortable being asked. That is my business, not yours! So just don’t ask. And that’s not just me; that goes for all of us. If a trans person wants to share what is going on in their transition process, they will tell you, but that’s not your choice, so stop asking. Not only do your questions trigger dysphoria, but they’re also weird. I’m not going to ask you what’s going on downstairs, so do me a favor and wonder in secret.

One final point. Could you stop murdering and assaulting us because we confuse you? In 2013, according to the Anti-Violence Project, 72 percent of hate-related homicide victims were trans women. Transgender people were seven times more likely than cisgender people to experience police violence, and transgender women were 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence than other victims. All I want to do is live my life without being murdered or assaulted.

I try to assume the best of people who say things that are painfully unaware about trans people of the trans community, but it is not my job to educate. That burden is on you. This is my rant. Do what you will with my opinion, but you absolutely cannot tell me that I’m wrong. You cannot understand. It’s time to start accepting that as a fact and realizing that not understanding is okay.

Illustration by Ollie DeFazio


I know how hard it is to learn about what it is to be trans. Hell, I had to do it myself when I was first figuring out my identity. I respect the challenges of understanding what we are and how to treat us. I want to explain a few things that will hopefully help you understand, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

A lot of people don’t entirely understand what it is to be trans, or even have a general grasp of what makes us this way. The psychiatric term is “gender dysphoria.” You know how you have those little things about your body that you just wish you could change: the way your nose looks or the shape of your stomach. Well, it’s absolutely nothing like that. Gender dysphoria feels like your entire body was built wrong in every way. When I wake up in the morning, I know who I am, but when I look at myself, I don’t see me. I see someone else. It’s like my body was switched out when I wasn’t looking, and everything about it is wrong. If you don’t have dysphoria, you cannot possibly understand it, and that’s okay. You cannot possibly understand what it is like to experience gender dysphoria though, so don’t try. Don’t say, “I understand,” and give an example of a time you wanted to change something about yourself and ask if that’s how we feel. The answer is no. But again, that’s okay. Just try to understand that it’s incredibly painful and exhausting just to live in the wrong body, and that some things that wouldn’t bother you in the slightest will throw us into the jaws of something we cannot control.

We are real men and women just like you are. We were born with the wrong bodies, and the fact that we have to change our bodies just to be able to lead normal lives, while awful and painful and unpleasant, is okay. We are living our lives as best we can, just like everybody else, only with a few extra complications. To make necessary changes to the way I look, I will pay about $100 every week for hormone treatments and need about $18,000 of surgery just to get started. That will be before the facial feminization surgery that will make my life a whole lot better. If you want to know more about these surgeries and drugs, please look it up. Please don’t ask us. Talking about transition surgery and treatment makes a lot of trans people really uncomfortable. Just because they’ll make us feel better doesn’t mean that we feel super comfortable thinking about having our genitals sliced open and turned inside out and backwards to make us look the way we need to. If you really need to know, watch a youtube video.

Life isn’t about being trans for most of us. While a lot of trans people are extremely vocal advocates for trans rights—much power to you all, thank you and keep up the good work—a lot of us, me included, just want to be ourselves without the monster of gender dysphoria rearing its ugly head every second of our lives. We don’t want to be put on a pedestal as the token trans person; we just want to live. Many of us are happy to answer your questions, to try and explain who we are and tell you our stories. At the end of the day, though, we are people just like you, and all we want is to be treated the same.

Illustration by Ollie DeFazio

The Divergence


by Paige Plagenz

The Aftermath of Loving and Realizing


by Juno Williams*

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about my sexuality more than I have in the past months. I don’t think I’ve ever been as paranoid or scared as I have in the past months. I don’t think I would really change anything.

A couple months ago, I made one of my most impulsive decisions. It lacked rational thought, had no backup plan and could go wrong in so many ways.

I did what most people would call “coming out,” in a speech in front of nine hundred people, though I wouldn’t realize what that meant until days later. And though it was constantly in the back of my mind, and my heart would climb into my throat every time a family member would call, I don’t think I would go back and do it any other way. Because my decisions not only allowed people to enter my life, but it allowed others to reach out.

I think being in the closet is a funny thing. I get visibly upset when my mother says gay people should die. I implore my older sister to just let gay people live their lives. If you ask me, I think my closet is very transparent, or at least missing the door. At school though, there isn’t such thing as a closet for me. I’m pansexual. I’m gay. If you sit at a table with me for six minutes there’s a 70 percent chance I have already talked about a girl whom I would gladly fall head over heels for. The dancer who has amazing fashion taste. This girl I follow on Instagram. The girl who picked up my fork for me when I dropped it. I’m always in love, and I’ve always been so gay, I’m surprised there are people who didn’t know before I told them.

But now everyone knows. At least nine hundred people know.

I think I may have let myself forget that coming out was a thing, but I feel like a small part of me knew it. I felt my mouth dry up when I started speaking. I stumbled over a couple words. I started tearing up the last paragraph of my speech. Of course, those could all be normal stage-fright things.

I think I let myself forget about other people’s feelings, just for a second. Until I couldn’t anymore; suddenly, people started thanking me. Juniors came up to me and thanked me, saying “You made me realize I’m not alone.” Freshmen came up to me and thanked me, saying “You made me realize I’m not alone.” Seniors came up to me and thanked me, saying “You made me realize I’m not alone.”

I don’t think I realized it when I gave my speech, but I was giving my sexuality away. It wasn’t mine anymore. These words weren’t for me anymore. They were for the closeted, for the scared, for the confused. They were for my school’s LGBTQ+ group on campus, who held a meeting about my speech in which they talked about what it meant and how it made them feel. They were for students I didn’t know looking at me on the sidewalks. They were for the classes that would have a discussion about that speech, dismember my words and hold them to the light to see what they could find. They were for my friends who would be inspired to create, to make art and to feel. They were for whomever read them and wept, whether they were empathizing or finding a weight lifted off their chests.

Since coming out to my entire school, I think I have been in a constant state of fear, of paranoia. Not all nine hundred people were homophobic, but not all nine hundred were rooting for me either. It is scary to think about how easy it would be for my mother to find out. I feel like my closet is burning, and despite my brashness, I’ve still been trying to put it out, trying to save my closet no matter how temporary or transparent. I have my friends hide my shirts that have gay slogans on them. I refuse to buy a rainbow flag until I have a place to store it over the summer. I try hard to not follow the gay rights pages on Instagram. I try hard to ignore the little voice in my brain that says, “You could come out to your family right now, and it would change everything. Nothing would ever be the same again.” I fall in love, over and over and over and over again, but I won’t let myself act on it. I daydream, again and again and again and again, about the life I might have. Could have. With my wife and our kid and our house and our love, but I refuse to dwell too long. I don’t plan on going to pride.

I tell my family that gay people are just human beings. My mother looks me in the eyes and asks me if I’m a lesbian. I look her in the eyes, and I say no. It’s not a lie. If she asked me if I like girls, I would lie.

I tell my grandmother that sometimes I hate men. She takes this as me saying I’m a lesbian. It takes me four minutes to calm her down and tell her I’m straight.

I tell my classmates that I am good enough, no matter who I love, who loves me or who will stop loving me. They stand by me.

I only hope that when my closet finishes burning, it won’t take me along with it.

*Due to the author's personal safety concerns, a pseudonym is used to ensure anonymity. This is a continuation of "Half Love and Other Realizations" from Volume 1 Issue 1.



by Isabella Spadone

This piece was born from warm thoughts and honey-like nostalgia. Inspired by the innocent wants of my past self, I made this imagery to fulfill a craving for a closeness and intimacy I hadn’t fully yet understood or trusted at the time. The word “sexuality” is uncomfortably formal, daunting. I wanted, then and now, something informal, authentic, and completely softhearted.

Dear Little Me,


The first time you hear about sex, you are six years old, sitting on the floor playing with your Polly Pockets. Your cousins are sitting above you, talking about a party they went to. A tear tracks down your cousin’s cheeks as she cries. Her words brand themselves in your mind.

“I didn’t want it,” she repeats, her voice cracking like a broken record.

When you are nine, one of your classmates comes up to you, kisses you and then shoves you on the floor and kicks you in the stomach. It hurts. “He just has a crush on you,” the school nurse says as she holds ice to the burning purple and red splotches on your rib cage.

Your first boyfriend comes around when you are thirteen. He’s a new student, a transfer from Beijing. You’re enthralled by his smile and his cute glasses and his weird floppy hair, and he asks you out a few weeks after the first day of school. You hold hands and hug, and that is as far as you want to go at thirteen. One day while you’re walking around, you give him a hug, and he kisses you. But it’s not that fairytale first kiss from the movies. He bites your lip until it bleeds and grips your wrists so hard they’re bruised for weeks. You run. Run down the streets, trying to remember the way home as the blood rushes through your ears and drips down your chin. Mom and Dad never find out.

One day your friend—we’ll call her T—is walking home when someone calls out behind her: “Hey sweetheart wanna come here? I can show you a good time.” When she puts her head down and starts walking faster, someone grabs her wrist and yanks her back.

“Don’t just walk away when someone compliments you. A pretty girl like you should always smile.” He doesn’t let her go until she smiles at him, deep purple bruises blooming where his fingers dig into her skin.

At fourteen years old, you go to your first “high school” house party, the summer before you go off to boarding school. You and T go together, obviously. You go everywhere together. It’s been about two hours since you walked through the front door, and you are in the kitchen, a glass of water in your hand. T has gone home. You walk down the hallway and run into a senior boy with his hands up the shirt of one of your classmates. She is slipping down the wall, barely conscious.

“What are you doing? She’s so drunk she can’t even keep her eyes open!” You shout.

He gives you a lazy smile and says, “She wants it. You should have seen the way she was acting.” You take her home and let her sleep on your bed. That will never be me, you think.

But suddenly it is you.

It is the summer after your first year away at school, and you are sitting in the shower, scrubbing your body raw as the same tears that branded themselves onto your cousin’s beautiful face years ago slowly track down your own. The memories of last night are burning their way through your system, but it could have been worse, worse, worse, worse. All you really remember is T swearing angrily, holding you up as you stumble out of a dimly lit room, shirt ripped, incoherent.


Somewhere along the line of forced touches and bloody tears running down your face and scrubbing your skin until it bleeds, you decide that you don’t really care anymore. And so, at fifteen you give in. Hardened by what has already happened to you, you decide that sex is just another thing that girls apparently don’t get to choose.

Now, you know differently. You are still a little careless, I’ll admit. But you understand that you are worth being loved and that your body is beautiful and strong, and your choices are your own. You get to choose who gets to be with you—bloody lips, bruised wrists, scrubbed skin and all. This girl can finally choose whom she loves and who can love her back.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni & Ollie DeFazio

Grey Room, Red Blood


Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

Sure, I’ll come over, I text him. Chill, nonchalant—I couldn’t care less. But my heart is racing; I’ve wanted this for a long time. What should I wear? Should I shower beforehand? I can’t forget to brush my teeth and shave my legs. I’m walking to his dorm. I can see his face in the window next to the doorway. Do I make eye contact? I’ll pretend I’m on the phone so he doesn’t think I’m too excited. He opens the door and ushers me inside; we don’t think that anybody sees us. I say, “Hello” and giggle nervously. Should I walk up the stairs first? I don’t know where his room is. He leads me to the fourth floor. grey walls, grey sheets, linoleum flooring. He asks, Do you want to watch a show? Sure. Or do you want to listen to music? Sure. Or we could just make out. Sure. But you can’t tell anyone, okay? Sure. I want him to stop talking, so I kiss him. He does everything right. He moves quickly, but he doesn’t disrespect me. Do you want to go all the way? I pause for a moment. Sure.

I get self-conscious as he puts on a condom. With an intense inhale, he crawls on top of me and pins my hands by my head. Suddenly, I’m not too sure. Respect has vanished. He enters me rapidly and forcefully. I yelp as I lurch backwards, hitting my head on the grey wall behind me in an attempt to get away. I get a headache; I want to vomit. Tears start pouring down my body and onto the sheets beneath me. But he doesn’t stop. 97 seconds. I came, he says. But what about me? The condom broke, he says. What does that mean? I’m going to go shower, he says. Should I just stay here? I dry my eyes. The grey sheets are damp, covered in a blotchy mix of blood and tears. The bruise on the back of my head throbs along with the unfamiliar soreness between my legs. I pull on my dress. Should I leave now? Will he ask me if I’m okay? He comes back into the grey room. You should go now, he says. I don’t say anything as he leads me down the stairs.


I was fifteen. Too young to understand why I bled for hours afterward. Too young to get scared when he told me the condom broke. Too young to know whether to be proud or ashamed. Too young to give consent. I didn’t tell anyone, for a couple days at least. But then my big mouth got the best of me. I told my sister. I told my friends. A boy in my Spanish class told me that he heard a rumor that I had asked for a hookup and been rejected, so I told him the truth too. But I wasn’t the only one who talked. Soon enough, I heard the rumors about me. The freshman is pregnant, I heard one day. I am? She was begging for it, said another person. Was I? He has a girlfriend, so she’s basically a home-wrecker. Since when? He never told me that.

Pretty soon my dorm faculty called me in for a meeting. She told me the things she had heard about me, all of which I had heard too many times. I felt cornered, trapped, overwhelmed…so I told half of the truth. I should’ve denied everything. But instead, I told her that I hooked up with him, but didn’t have sex. We only got to third base, I assured her. That’s still penetration, she informed me. Technically, you both committed statutory rape since you’re both too young to give consent. She promised me confidentiality, and I trusted her.I should have known not to trust the adults at this school.

The town police called my parents a few nights later. It was only a small hookup, I told my mom. Please don’t make me press charges. She made me swear I was telling the truth. Luckily, he didn’t press charges against me either. According to the school, I was as much a rapist as he was since he was underage as well. I ran into him one day in the health center. Deny everything, I told him. There’s nothing to deny, he said. This is your problem, not mine.

I was angry but also afraid. Why was everyone placing the blame on me? Was it my fault? After all, I did walk into his grey room voluntarily. I did kiss him first. I did consent, at first. But since when did resistance signify consent? Since when did a terrified yelp mean that everything was okay? Since when did tears and blood become a green light telling him to keep going? It couldn’t have been my fault. He hurt me, not the other way around. But I couldn’t tell the police that. I couldn’t tell my mom that. Nobody could know the truth, at least for now.


It was freshman spring and the days seemed to stretch and merge into each other, creating an eternity of madness around me. My sister and friends started avoiding me because they believed the rumors. I felt betrayed by my dorm faculty, betrayed by the people closest to me, and I began to feel like I had betrayed myself until I discovered a new friend in the grey scissors from my desk drawer. At first I couldn’t hurt myself because I was afraid of the pain, but then my own guilt from the incident built up so much that I believed I deserved punishment. One night, I wrote a letter to him. I poured emotions onto paper, trying desperately to describe, despite the pain, the unbreakable connection that I felt to the boy who hurt me because he had taken something that was mine—something I can never get back. I signed my name in my own blood, drawn from the quick, relieving swipe of grey scissors against my flesh. I never sent him the letter; it sat on my desk next to my scissors, both of them a constant reminder of pain.

As time passed I began to feel a little bit better, distancing myself from the incident. I built up the courage to tear apart the letter and put the scissors back in the desk drawer when I began packing up my dorm room for the summer. The biggest relief came when I left campus and realized that I could finally tell my mother the truth. Don’t call the police; I don’t want to press charges, I insisted. And don’t tell Daddy. He would place the blame on me, just like everyone else. She understood. She cried, knowing that I had suffered something worse than everything she had worked her whole life to protect me from. I thought I was over it, and I struggled to understand why she was so upset. Because this experience will never leave you, she warned me. And she was right.


As I’m writing this we are quickly approaching the second anniversary of that day. It’s marked on my calendar. Why do I care so much? I have always wondered why my brain keeps spinning about the same incident over and over again. Why do I look up at his window every time I walk past the dorm where it happened? Why do I remember the color of his sheets, his carpet, and the t-shirt he was wearing? Why can’t I use my grey scissors without the emotions coming rushing back? I should be over it by now. He’s not even at the school anymore; he got kicked out for something other than sexual assault.

But a part of me wishes he had gotten caught for the right reasons. I know there are other victims. My spit-sisters; the girls with whom I share a rapist. Part of me has always hoped that one day, I will find his name in a headline of a grey newspaper, that some other girl will have had the courage to report him like I never could. I hope that girl will find closure in knowing she could bring him down, unlike me. Why didn’t I have the courage to ruin him? I know why. Because at my school, ruining him would have ruined me. I would have been blamed, interrogated, and arrested along with him, because technically I raped him as well. There’s no such thing as a victim here when the victim is also guilty. There’s no such thing as closure. For me there’s only the constant cycle of questions running through my brain. Vivid memories triggered by sheets that look a little too grey or beds that feel a little too similar. I know that I will never forget, whether I like it or not. My anger toward him will live on. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to come forward, but for now, I’m just stuck thinking in circles, constantly considering and reliving the day he hurt me.

It’s Never As Easy As A+B

lit. art

by Vennela Vellanki

a=the distance I’d go for you
b=what you’d do for me
a+b=what they define love to be
introduce c and we have a family

if only it were that simple

then you must factor in
d for the Distance you keep from me
e for the Energy you take from me
f for the Feelings you fake for me
g for the Goosebumps you give to me

and don’t forget the (H)itting and the "(I) love you"s and the "(J)ust kidding"s and the "(K)ill you"s

l represents the Love you tell—don’t show, I just have to Listen
m=the Minutes I long for your arms to envelop Me and your eyes to consume Me
n=No I can’t see you, No I’m busy, I kNow you like it, I kNow you want it
O shit how did it get so bad?
p is for all the Promises you made to me and all the Privileges you took away from me

it’s so (Q)uiet outside even the trees stopped hearing the wind.
r is for the Roughness, the bruises, the pain, the broken
(S)creams I can no longer utter from my (T)hroat
but feel (U)nder my clothes, in the cuts on my skin
v=the Void I feel in my mind, for my heart is too distracted by the words you speak and the
(W)ishes I place upon the stars to go back to the world where a+b+c=simplicity, a ​gift​,
but X marks the spot where the sun refuses to shine and the water ceases to lap, so the sand dries
up and the rocks they stay sharp, and they cut the soles of my feet as I try to run away from
y=You with Your claws for hands and stones for eyes but

z stands for the dresses you sweetly unzip and the loving whispers you softly utter and the sleep
I crave every night, held tightly between your arms, lying close to the rhythms of your beating
heart and the warmth of your coffee breath, for without you I am as hollow as the number Zero,
yet with you I’ll never be one.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

Not Defined By My…


by Abigail Downard

The Feminine Performance


I have never been a beacon of femininity, rather a performer of it. I’ve been told that females are intrinsically feminine. But this presentation of womanhood has never come from within me. Femininity for me is bred from society and pressed onto my skin, driven into my mind, labeling me a woman.

To be feminine is to be pretty, desirable. Femininity runs through the seams of the dresses that my mother makes me buy, despite how much I hate the way I look in them. It worms itself into the toes of ballet flats and heels that she coerces onto my feet for special occasions, and it punctures the ears she made me pierce, the earrings that she forces into me until my ears turn bright red with a combination of pain and shame. It is the nail polish that she glosses over my fingers and the deep pigment of the mascara she coats onto my eyes to make me more alluring. It stains my lips with the red rouge of lipstick, sharpens the blade of the pink razor she buys me to shave my leg hair and armpit hair and pubic hair. Femininity is the golden necklaces and bracelets laying dormant in a pink jewelry box under my bed, waiting for their chance to glimmer on my neck.

To be feminine is to live your life for men. Femininity is the giggles that sputter out of my friends when they talk about the boys at school. It controls their voices when they remark about what they would like to do with boys, what they would like boys to do to them. It punctures the air when they scream about their favorite male celebrities. It’s in the way my best friend gets confused when I don’t join her in fawning over the hottest boy in our math class. It’s in the way she laments that she wishes she had a boyfriend more than anything else in the world. It’s in the way her face falls and contorts when I tell her I might like girls in the way she likes boys. It’s in the way she pities me for lusting after someone who isn’t a boy. It’s in the tears my mother sheds for me, worrying that I will never attract a man. It causes the stress my father feels when he thinks I might be a lesbian.

To be feminine is to be pushed into submission and to be content in the role designated for you. Femininity is the lecture my parents gave me when I was young about how girls can’t be presidents or pilots or scientists. It punctuates the words my mother uses when she tells me that women are not capable of the same things that men are. It’s in the hatred my mother has for women who don’t fulfill their domestic roles and who don’t birth children for whom to care. It fuels the disgust my mother expresses towards women who don’t present themselves in the same manner that she does. It’s embedded into the magazine covers that sit on the racks, naked women plastered across glossy pages, meant to grab the attention of men who walk by. It produces the racy ads that show women as a prop for men to sell their products to other men. It’s in the pornography that shows a man thrust his penis into a woman’s mouth or beat her body into submission. It manifests in the “locker room talk” and pervading culture that tells boys that they can rape a girl if they want to.

Femininity is a double edged sword. The natural feminine attributes of women must be able to be celebrated, but we have to be able to rid ourselves of the toxic mindset that women must be naturally feminine. Many women are feminine beings; they are beautiful and graceful, shy and passive, compassionate. Femininity is a set of traits expressed by many women, but it has escalated into a cultural expectation that all women act in accordance with these attributes. Femininity has been altered so that it is no longer a woman’s personal presentation but dictates the bare minimum of what constitutes a woman. To be female does not mean one is feminine. But to be female does mean that one will be subjected to the social pressure of femininity that chooses a woman’s dress, sexuality, ego and mind. This perversion does not just affect women who do not embody femininity and are expected to perform it for the satisfaction of society. Women who do express the virtues of femininity are objectified, and their being is made into a performance for the pleasure of men. But femininity is not female. A woman is a woman by virtue of her own connection to womanhood, not her ability to exhibit a set of traits dictated by her culture.

Cultural, Not Chemical

proper conduct

by Margot Becker

Toxic masculinity: one of the most complex and vague terms of the modern day gender equality movement. According to Teaching Tolerance, an online resource for educators,

“Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It is the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness, where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits—which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual—are the means by which your status as ‘man’ can be taken away.”

Broken down, this defines toxic masculinity not as a neurological concept but as a pervasive societal pressure. Men are taught that they need to be dominant, aggressive and sexually accomplished in order to be “true men.” According to Don McPherson, former NFL quarterback turned activist, “We don’t raise boys to be men. We raise boys to not be women or gay men. We don’t affirm what a loving man is. We’re not supposed to be effeminate or care or love or be sensitive, and it’s all utter BS because we are all these things.” In an effort to fit in and prove oneself, this misconception of masculinity is often fostered in schools, locker rooms and even in the privacy of the home.

Similar traits are demonstrated by many male animals, and Psychology Today even makes the argument that male brains are actually are more aggressive and dominant than female brains. However, Science Magazine counters with studies conducted at Tel Aviv University in Israel, where testing the difference between male and female brains showed that most people’s brains contain both of these male and female structures. In fact, it is almost impossible to tell the sex of an individual solely by looking at their brain alone. This suggests that the root of toxic masculinity stems from cultural pressures, without biological underpinnings.

One of the most harmful things about a toxic culture is its impact on women. Catcalling, for instance, is a common manifestation of this culture; in a study by Stop the Street Harassment, over 99 percent of women surveyed had experienced some form of street harassment, ranging from leering to whistling to physical assault. Dominant behavior, when constantly reinforced, leads to more than just catcalling; it manifests as domestic abuse, rape and, according to a Harper’s Bazaar article, even mass shootings. This behavior can easily, and subversively, be reinforced by authority figures or popular culture, ranging from rap music, which has been pointed out because of lyrics that praise the “conquest” of women (The Marshall Mathers album by Eminem, for instance), to James Bond, whose partiality to “Bond girls” is world-famous. A USA Today article about the price of toxic masculinity argues that Trump’s presidency proved that toxic masculinity can be rewarded by society, which sets a dangerous example for future generations.

Toxic masculinity also explains much of the emotional repression that is so common among men. Boys are often told in little ways while they are young to withhold emotion. “Be strong” and “Don’t cry” are common indicators of a broader issue. This culture not only endangers women by making men desensitized to their effects on others, but it also endangers men by making them much more likely to have emotional health issues. Toxic masculinity has a proven effect on mental health; according to Healthline, mental health issues make up 90 percent of suicide deaths in the United States. In fact, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women, and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.

However, all individuals, regardless of their gender, can help combat toxic masculinity. For men, the first thing that you can do is accept that toxic masculinity is a problem and try to look for it in your life. Whether or not you are able to recognize these harmful influences in your own life, you can try to create a more understanding culture that does not encourage male superiority or objectification of women. It’s a tall order, but the change doesn’t have to be immediate or massive—it can be as simple as educating your friends about toxic masculinity so they become more aware of the issue. When more men begin to understand the dangers of toxic masculinity, they can work to defy gender stereotypes within their own lives. Perhaps most importantly, by addressing the problem in ourselves, we can pass new knowledge on to the teenagers and children at risk of being raised in the same hypermasculine cycle.

You can support men who may want to open up and shake off the layers of toxic societal pressures that have built up throughout their whole lives. Other men should no longer force themselves or their friends into predetermined masculine roles. If you have taken the time to understand gender and sexuality issues, you can expose men to the fact that there are gender non-binary and agender identifiers and that they should embrace that they can have non-binary and gender-less aspects without being any less themselves.

The issue of toxic masculinity is fraught, complex and messy, but the only thing we as a society can do is push through its complexities and challenges in order to help ourselves and the people around us change this culture that has caused so much challenge and pain for everyone, regardless of gender identity or lack thereof. We need to help each other and help ourselves to become a more healthy, safe and equal people; the only way we can do it is together.


lit. art

by Brooke Ripley

Your heart drops when you see them. You tell yourself that you love them. You do love them. Something inside you knows better, and your heart drops. It falls out of the sky like the penny descending into the wishing well. It is not a wish.

You feel them grasping at you, leaving you gasping for breath. They pull away. You miss them, and they know it. They’ve won. Toxicity seeps from them and into you; you know they don’t love you, but you convince yourself otherwise. It’s easier to put up a façade, to screen your life with a fantasy and detach from reality.

You will know when to draw the line, but you will be paralyzed; you will feel every vein in your body screaming to cut them out, but you can’t. You can’t do it; you’re hooked to the idea that they may love you. Maybe they treat you so poorly because they’re ignorant, maybe it’s not intentional. Maybe they will eventually come around.

Meanwhile, they will exude nonchalance. Each of your days, your being means less and less to them. They will hold you just close enough to keep you begging for more. They will not give you everything. They will give their love to anyone but you.

Finally, they will make that leap away from you. After fooling yourself for so long, that façade shatters. Your world melts around you.

You must make a choice. After so much toxicity, after breathing it and even needing it for so long, what do you do? Do you let it all end? Let the vines of their existence, the residual grasp of theirs, take you over? Do you make yourself anew? Do you turn that love into hatred?

What do you do?

You repair yourself. You understand your own worth and understand that they never knew it. Be afraid of that heartbreak; fear that those who love you are only there to hurt you. Fear it so much that you are forced to be rebirthed. You will not be rebirthed by anyone but yourself. Shove that needle, feel the soft push, the pinch and the drag as you take it from your shoulder to your heart. Every step to recovery, every stitch, every heartbeat, is a step away from them.

Every heartbeat is a step away from them. Every stitch is a step to recovery.

Learning to Cope


I do not understand why we talk about rape in the passive voice. It shifts the focus from the perpetrator onto the victim and subconsciously places the blame onto the victim. To say, “I got raped,” implies that I did something to get myself into that situation. It implies that I could have prevented it.

In reality, I did not get raped. Someone raped me. I don’t think I will ever get past believing that it was my fault, that I am somehow damaged. And technically I am. I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which will shape the rest of my life. I have frequent flashbacks, panic attacks and generalized anxiety, along with an attachment disorder that manifests in falsified emotional connections with people who are undeserving or unwilling to reciprocate. I am painfully aware of the effect this has on my life. I fall for any person that shows any modicum of kindness towards me. If I hear a loud noise, my heart races. If anyone mentions sexual assault around me, I break down. I cannot walk alone at night. I cannot be alone with my own thoughts, so I chase distractions.

Despite prescription medication, I cannot sleep because every time I close my eyes, a scenario plays in my head, and it goes like this: I spent my summer in Jordan, studying Arabic, where I became friends with a volunteer working with the program. He was practically an adult, five years older than me. One night, he tricked me into going to his apartment, saying that everyone from my program would be there. I showed up. He was alone. I had no cell service, and I did not proficiently speak Arabic. I asked to borrow his phone, and he refused. Then he came onto me.

I tried to push him away, tried to say no, and I will always wonder if I didn’t try hard enough. But he easily had over a foot and a hundred pounds on me. He took off my clothes and forced me to perform oral sex. He pulled my hair so hard I could have cried. But I didn’t. I froze. And then he raped me. On a dirty couch in a basement apartment in a foreign country with Friends playing in the background. Afterwards, he handed me my clothes and lit a cigarette. I sat in silence and took a drag as his hands remained all over my body. Then, he stood up and offered to get me a cab. After that night, I saw him every day for a month.

I denied it for months afterwards. I even had sex with my boyfriend for the first time. It somehow all became real when I returned to school. I started having flashbacks, panic attacks, and I realized that I needed help. I broke up with my boyfriend and met with a counselor, who comforted me, then informed me that my parents would have to be notified. Learning that my parents had to know was perhaps equally as traumatic, as they are strongly conservative and Islamophobic. Before I left for the summer, they told me that something like this would likely happen if I went. And it did.

After learning that they would be told, as the school had to report the incident to the Department of Children and Families, I cried for the first time since it happened. I tried to look on the bright side, thinking that at least I would have support now. But after my parents found out, they didn’t text or call or even bring it up when I saw them in person. They sent me a note. A note that said barely more than, “We talked to the school. We are so sorry this happened.”

Months later, the subject finally came up when I told my parents I did not want to come home and they couldn’t imagine why. When I finally spoke with them about the fact that someone raped me, my father made it about himself, saying that it was my fault for not telling them, that I have always been too sensitive, too distant, too secretive, too unwilling to form a relationship with him. We have never gotten along, and I don’t think I will ever truly love or trust my father, but that night crossed a line which we will never come back from. How, as a parent, can you learn such a thing about your daughter and ignore it? How can you make that moment about yourself? I did repair my relationship with my mother, who found a psychiatrist for me, leading to my diagnosis of PTSD, bipolar disorder and a PTSD-related attachment disorder.

Post-traumatic stress is something that has forever shifted my relationships, and it has created a pattern. I have been heavily involved in my school’s hook-up culture this year, believing that maybe a twisted form of exposure therapy was the way to go to get over my terror at even the thought of sex. I was wrong. I form attachments too quickly to people who do not deserve that part of me and treat me like trash. Each time, I accept it. I accept it because in my mind, I think back to this summer and say to myself, “At least it isn’t that bad,” because I guess I believe “not that bad” is all I deserve. I can’t help but feel that I deserve to be used, objectified, ignored.

So I fall for iterations of the same guy over and over again, and each time, I believe that it is different, that I can trust him. Yet, I can’t because it is irresponsible to place my burden upon someone else without dealing with it myself first. And I’m trying. But, I did meet someone that I trusted with my story, and I have never before gotten a reaction that felt so genuine, that made me feel so safe. I did truly feel safe with him. It was the first time I felt safe with a guy since the summer, the first time I trusted someone enough to share this part of me with them, the first time I could hook up with someone without having a panic attack before or after. This gives me hope. The kind of hope that one day, I will stop replaying my rape in my head. The kind of hope that I will sleep through the night and walk alone in the dark without my heart racing. The kind of hope that I’ll be able to break my patterns of letting men mistreat me. The kind of hope that I can acknowledge my worth, fall in love with myself and no longer believe that I am damaged goods.

I refuse to be passive anymore. I did not get raped. Someone raped me. I need to accept that it was not my fault, that I did not deserve it. And ten months later, I am just learning how to cope with it. I am just learning how to have the courage to speak my truth.

End Your


by Ernest John Sanchez

Let Me Tell You


by Rebecca Ju

Let me tell you why all men are trash.

When I was fourteen, a man yelled, “Nice ass!” at my friend as we biked through our town center. She slowed a little, turned and replied, “Thank you!” I asked why. She said it was a compliment, and I felt like less of a woman because he hadn’t taken the time to vocalize his appreciation of my body.

When I was fifteen, a friend asked me to come look at something in a back alley behind a school building. There wasn’t anything there but gravel, but when I got close enough, he pushed me against the brick and kissed me. I can still remember how cold and wet his tongue was. I kissed back because I didn’t want to offend him. We went back inside, and I politely excused myself, cried in a bathroom, then walked out to see him high-fiving his JV basketball teammates. It was game day. They had bet him that he couldn’t find a girl to kiss for good luck, and he had won the bet. The next day, he thanked me. For their win.

When I was fifteen, a classmate asked me to study physics with him. He was older and told me that his room would be the quietest place to work. I believed him, went with him and sat on his bed. He put his hand on my knee, and I remembered how all the other girls had had their first hook-up already, so I let him kiss me. He took off my shirt, then my bra, then pushed my hand towards his crotch. I hesitated, so he pushed a little harder, and I stopped resisting. Then he reached his hand into my own pants, and I squirmed away. He tried again. I said, “I don’t think I want that.” He said, “You will, just trust me.”

When I was sixteen, I started dating someone. I thought he was the most wonderful boy on earth, with the most wonderful eyes and the most wonderful smile. He wanted to touch me everywhere, because he thought I was wonderful, too. I told him that I had a “no below the pants rule” with a bit of a smile so he wouldn’t think I was scared. I was terrified. Every time we kissed, his hand would creep lower and lower, and I’d have to remind him of my rule. One day, I wore a dress, and he tucked his hand underneath my skirt and slipped beneath my underwear before I could say anything. I gasped and flinched. He said, “Technically, you weren’t wearing pants.” I still remember how cold his fingers were.

A few months later, I said “I love you” to him for the first time. He spun me around and kissed me and hugged me tight. He said it back, and I filled with warmth.

One night, he slept over. It was late, and we had the house to ourselves. He wanted to “kiss me down there.” I told him I didn’t want him to, but he said, “I just want to know what it’s like.” He said, “Please let me do it, it would make me happy. Don’t you love me? Don’t you want me to be happy?” I felt like shit for saying no again. He kissed my neck, my chest, my stomach, and I pulled his hair to slow his descent. I didn’t say anything when he slid out of my grasp. He kissed me down there. I still remember how cold and wet his tongue was. I let him stay down there until he was satisfied, and when he asked me if I liked it, I nodded. Then, he asked me to go down on him as well, since “it was only fair.” I didn’t want to be unfair, so I tried, but I gagged and felt like disintegrating. I told him I couldn’t, so he turned away and closed his eyes.

A few weeks later, we celebrated our six-month anniversary. He bought me a stuffed bear and a necklace and wrote me a poem.

I’d gotten over my aversion to oral by then, so he moved on to asking me if I was ready to have sex. The answer was always “no,” because I wasn’t. Then, he’d ask me why. I couldn’t give him an answer. I snapped once and yelled at him to stop pressuring me. He said he was just asking, that I could always just say no. I apologized for raising my voice.

We were naked in his bed once, kissing and cuddling and whispering love into each other’s ears. He slipped his penis inside me, just slightly, “accidentally.” I believed him and tried to ignore the feeling that my stomach was rotting. The next time, he asked if he could try it again, just for one second, since he was so curious what it felt like. I said “no,” and he asked again, and this time, I said “yes.” It felt like I was being split in two. He stayed for longer than just one second. I thought he was finally pulling out, but then he thrust his hips in toward mine. He said he couldn’t help himself. I screamed, and he apologized and held me until the pain dulled. I was glad he was there to hold me.

The next day, he said to me, “You’re keeping track of your period, right? To make sure you’re not pregnant?” He was playing a video game and didn’t turn to look at me when he asked. I answered, loudly so he could hear me over the sound of machine-gun bullets thudding into animated zombies, “Yeah.”

A month later, my best friend had sex with her date after the winter dance, making me the last virgin in the group. I told my boyfriend I was finally ready to go all the way, and he was so happy. I loved seeing him so happy. We had sex, and I told him I loved him when he was done. He went back to his video game, so I picked up my clothing, dressed myself and went home.

A few weeks later, we celebrated our one-year anniversary. He surprised me with dinner, complete with my favorite dessert and candles. My friend told me that we were “couple goals.” I beamed.

When I was seventeen, we broke up. I cried myself to sleep for weeks. My friends set me up with someone to cheer me up. I went on a date. My ex got wind of it and texted my friends to tell them to keep me from “being a fucking slut.” They didn’t reply. I got over him enough to start seeing someone else. It was casual and easy, and he was kind and sweet and gentle. I only ever needed to say “no” once. When my ex heard how well things were going, he texted the boy to say that I was “on meds for mental issues” and that he should “stay away from that crazy bitch.” The boy thought I should know and showed me the message. I panicked. He helped me breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth and in through my nose. He wiped away my tears with his sleeve, and assured me that he didn’t believe a word of it.

I texted my ex and asked him to leave me and my friends alone. He told me that I had no control over what he did. I blocked his number. I was too mortified and terrified to see the boy again, despite how well things had been going between us.

When I was eighteen, I began dating again. There was a boy who loved me so intensely I forgot how much I hated love. We spent all our time together, but he never wanted to be exclusive. I didn’t care, as long as I could still see him. We went to the same college, and he began hooking up with other girls. I hooked up with someone else, too, and he threatened to fight him. I had to stop him from punching the nearest tree when I told him I’d slept with someone else. He told me he loved me, and that he wanted to be with me.

When I let go of his fist, he punched the tree anyway. I apologized for his bruised knuckles.

A few months later, he told me he’d fucked someone else after he’d told me he loved me but before I’d agreed to date him. I told him, “Let bygones be bygones.” I told myself his honesty was what was important.

Over Christmas break, he called me to say that he wasn’t sure about our relationship anymore. I had tickets to come see him for New Year’s, so he told me to come for the weekend anyway. He had friends over, and he said they didn’t like me, so I stayed with an acquaintance instead. I saw him for a grand total of thirty minutes that weekend, during which told me that he hadn’t really made up his mind, yet. But he kissed me at midnight. My acquaintance and I became great friends.

When we got back to school, he decided for sure that he wasn’t interested in dating me. He saw me kiss someone else at a party and pulled me outside to talk, crying. He asked me to get back with him. I said no. He drunkenly slobbered pain and anger into my lap, begging me not to hurt him anymore. I apologized, and I cried, too. I didn’t go out again for weeks.

When I did, I went to his frat. A friend of mine asked me to leave with her. When I asked why, she said it wasn’t safe for me there. My ex was drunk and angry that I had been let in and was threatening to kill the brother who had been on door duty. For a month, whenever that frat had a party, I stayed in while my friends went out. By the end of that month, I was more angry than scared, so the next weekend, I went with them. When he saw me, he yelled at me to leave and told me that I was ruining his life, that it was my fault he couldn’t think of anything but me. I left him there, blackout and sobbing in the stairwell, trying my hardest not to feel guilty. I got a message the next morning telling me that I was no longer welcome in that frat.

In one of my seminars freshman spring, I met a graduate student. He drove me to coffee shops after class and cooked for me in his apartment. I slept with him on the first date because he was the first person I’d ever wanted to sleep with on the first date. He brought me a heart-shaped cookie on Valentine’s Day and stayed the night in my room. He logged onto Facebook on my computer. The next morning, I opened my laptop to see a chat window with a friend of his. He’d described, in excruciating detail, exactly what we’d done in bed. He said, “It’s always the quiet ones who are the freakiest.” He said, “When I cooked for her, I could practically see her soaking through her underwear.” His friend asked to be kept updated. He said, “For sure.”

When I was eighteen, I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. In the psych ward, another patient told me that I was “too pretty to be depressed.” Another one asked for my number. We weren’t allowed to have phones in there. He made me a bracelet during art therapy, and I wore it out of obligation.

When I was nineteen, someone said to me as I walked by, “Hey little mama, why don’t you show me what’s under that skirt?” I kept walking. He had asked the three men ahead of me if they’d had any spare change.

When I was nineteen, my friend and I told a man to leave us alone after he coated our bodies with his gaze and said, “Lookin’ good, baby.” He told us to just take the compliment. We said that it wasn’t a compliment, so he yelled, “Go suck a dick, you fucking whores.” We kept walking. No one else on the street said a word to us, nor to him.

I am still nineteen, and most of the hurt I’ve experienced has by now turned to anger. I repeat to myself the mantra, “All men are trash.” I have met so many men who are wonderful, intelligent, kind, loving and generous, but I believed that was true of every one of those men who hurt me so greatly in the past, so I can no longer afford to trust my first impressions.

All men are trash, because a few men have ruined all good men for me. All men are trash, because it seems unreasonable that I do not give men the benefit of the doubt. All men are trash, because men in my life have made it a necessity that I believe that mantra, because I cannot possibly choose to open myself to such violation again. All men are trash, because I am only human, and I need to be angry. I need to be angry, or else they win, and I will never get rid of the fingerprints on the inside of my thighs. All men are trash, because these stories surprise no woman. I don’t feel justified putting my name on this piece, because relative to all the women who have been hurt by men, I’ve gotten off easy so far. All men are trash, because they still think that the men in these stories aren’t their teammates, aren’t their friends, aren’t them. All men are trash. I don’t just have bad taste in men, because too many men like that exist. All men are trash. Because all women who have been hurt don’t just have bad luck. All men are trash. Call me stupid, call me unassertive, call me naive. Call me attention-seeking, call me compliant, call me responsible. Don’t worry, I’ve said it to myself for years. I can take it. All men are trash. If you hate hearing that phrase, don’t take it out on me. It’s not worth your time. All men are trash. All men are trash. All men are trash. All men are trash.

I still remember how cold and wet his tongue was.

Take out the trash, and maybe I’ll stop chanting.

I am power. I’m power. i’mpower. impowered.
Empowered: the past tense of empower.
The past tense of I am is I was.
I was empowered. I used to empower myself.
Reflexive attitudes that
scrape at the wall of my self esteem.
Once was uplifting and
Lightweight as the smile of those still living
Is now run down and crushed by
The feet of the elephants that walk above it.

Hearing what I am and what I used to be
makes me think of who I want to be.
Or who I will end up becoming.
Someone who grows from
the fertilized soil that holds us so
Tight to meaningless stability.
Or someone with steps as heavy as those
Elephants that step on the confident
Frugal walls of my humanity.
Or I will end up becoming someone who is
The elephant that walks on others.
My chest, it caves
into a crisp handful of misery and self

Everyone wants what they deserve.
Everyone wants what others deserve.
Everyone brings what others need.
Everyone gives what no one needs.

What do I need and what do I bring?
Ticking time bombs planted in my ears.
Chirping crickets that sit behind
my heart telling it when to pump
the power in my veins: blood.

Legs too long,
Arms too arousing,
Shoulders too shiny,
Chest too chattery
and lips too
Longing for it.
Take away my power
and all I will be is
my long legs, arousing arms, shiny shoulders,
chattery chest, longing lips and blood for you to drink.
Blood to fill your hunger.
Slow down or there won’t be enough for the both of us.
Loss of lust for the fertilizer that surrounds my escaped, bloodless entirety.
The greedy guilt waters the fragile
Flowers planted in my falsely
Forgiving thighs and
Holy heart. No longer holy.

But no more.
My chest can’t keep caving in
At your benefit and my cost.
I won’t have enough blood to heal it.

I used to empower myself.
I used to be empowered. I am empowered.
Impowered. I’mpower.
I am power.