Why it Hurts When They Call us “Chicks”

A poem to the men in my life

by Kali Dayn

Content Note: trigger warning for sexual assault, abuse, and heartbreak

Animations by Grace An

I’m not sure when it happened
Perhaps it was when he said he would never leave the 165th time
Perhaps it was when he grabbed hold of my hand and stopped to tell me he was in love with me
Perhaps when he entwined his intellect with mine
Perhaps it was when he told me I was a 10/10
Perhaps it was when he couldn’t show me to his friends
 like I was a trophy with a broken handle
 a disappointing art piece
Perhaps it was when he kneed me in what he hoped was my uter- my fertility
Perhaps it was when he said he didn’t want me
They said they didn’t want me
Again and again
After they had taken a big enough chunk out of me
That I thought it was well warranted for me to want him
For me to stay
For him to want me
But he didn’t
They didn’t.

They always take right before they leave. and then they leave.
At the end of the night, at the end of the season, at the end of the climax
When the excitement’s over
And the air hangs heavy with responsibility
When the emptiness lies between you
When it’s unclear who’s winning at the dating game
When you want to ask the question are we dating but deep down you know that he doesn’t love you and you don’t either
When each tick of the clock adds another day to your hedonist relationship
 adds another risqué place to fornicate
 another awkward bystander seeing more skin than they wanted to
When he’d serenaded you with so many scripted lines that you felt like he was committed
And the fear of forever settles like a hot stifling blanket

But just as soon the cover of the night
the “I’ve got something”
the “you were sleeping”
seems like a legitimate enough excuse
to stop being a person to someone
and to leave them in their own filth
because although my house was Lysoled, Febrezed, potpourried
I couldn’t, for the life of me, mop up my own self-deprecating voices, the monsters under my bed, the dark hands of nighttime all over my body
As soon as that seems like an okay reason to walk away
With your guilt-filled bag you take to the gym the next morning
It’s over.

I pretended I was asleep
To relieve us of the awkward exchange
As he untangled himself from me and walked the walk of shame — I guess for him, society would tell him it was the walk of victory
The loneliness immediately afterwards was the most painful
The kind of loneliness that was deluded until the very last second
Like a child with divorcing parents
But burst to the forefront compulsively
Like an angry infection
Seeking sweet vengeance after long periods of dormancy.

The loneliness that yearned for something. Because
In his embrace could have been love
His hands could have quenched the need for emotional solace
He could have held me for more moments than dictated by social contracts
He could have looked at ME once when he banged my frail body against the wall
He could have said my name instead of my colour
He could have let me move my own lips in consent before bringing his lips to mine
and his body over mine
and his overrepresented colonizing speech over my marginalized chocolate whisper
He could have beheld my supposed beauty
 instead of pulling it apart
 into its puzzle piece bits
 poking holes in me like a talented Jenga player
 so haphazardly that I have now resigned to impossibility
 every time I try to put myself together.

Because a douchebag never cleans you out like a douchebag ought to.
But instead wedges the pain so much farther inside
That it becomes a part of you
And grows parasitically
Becomes the focus of your being
Maybe the others don’t see it at first
But you know you’re occupied by something else
And soon it becomes so obsessive and all-encompassing
That you become defined by it
You protect it with your arms over it
Some people don’t understand why
And maybe you don’t even understand
But the results of those late Friday night mistakes will never leave you
Because a douchebag man is flawed in every single way that a douchebag sanitary napkin is.

And every time I think that
Maybe this time the sinking feeling of a lonely dawn
Won’t pull my organs down
Through the blood that betrays me every month in its hurry to leave
Through my sickness
Through my pain
Through the aftermath of whoring my body out
To embalm the hateful voices in my head without having to deal with the societal shaming of the criss cross on my arms
Every time I think that it’s over now, I should be over it, it’s all over
It’s not at all over now. I’m not at all over it.

Because I’m not the type of girl people fall in love with
I’m not the type of girl that needs closed doors or lube before the IPV happens
I’m the type of girl that asks for it
I’m the type of girl that wears easy access dresses
I’m the type of girl with blurred yes-no’s
I’m the type of girl you see at the slutwalk with funky clothing and socialist ideals
I’m the type of girl that wouldn’t survive in the real world
I’m the type of girl they tell you not to be in sex-ed lessons
I’m the type of girl that’s just a phase
I’m the type of girl that’s on to do lists
I’m the type of girl that everyone had once on a crazy weekend
I’m the type of girl that deserved it anyway.
He knows it.
I do too — I parrot it back to him.
And so every night
I lay curled up
In my own
 vaginal fluids
 ripped shreds of tissue
Vulnerable as a fetus.
Maybe that’s why they call us chicks.
That’s why it hurts when they call us chicks.

Author’s Note: I’m an Indo-Canadian woman who moved here when I was fairly young. I did not have any sexual health teaching from my home and learned everything I know from limited teaching in school and of course, TV. I am not sure why, but most of my knowledge and attitudes were coloured with shame as I began my forays into sex & relationships. This made for some messy experiences with sex and relationships, as I describe in my work, and a slow transition into taking ownership over my sexual life and health.

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