The Entire Country Feels Like A Toxic Locker Room Where ‘Boys Will Be Boys’
By Jade Sanchez-Ventura
Fuck you, Donald Trump. And fuck you, Bill, and your pussy-scented cigar that I read about when I was 13 on a school bus on the way to DC. Fuck you lady on the radio this morning who said she heard worse at her last bachelorette party. Fuck your wall. Fuck the white museum guard who kicked my friend’s school trip — a bevy of young, shining brown faces — out of the Holocaust Museum. Yes, it’s fucking ironic. Also heartbreaking.
Fuck the police. Stop lying to us.
Fuck ALEC. Do you know what ALEC is? I didn’t. Look it up. Fuck the bullshit. Fuck the drone program. Fuck the bombs. When are you going to stop lying to us? Fuck you Cosmo and YM and Details and Playboy and Esquire. Fuck the news anchors. Fuck you NY Post. Fuck you New York Times. When are we going to stop letting you lie?
Do you want to know when I was the most naïve?
I was 20 years old and the World Trade Center had just fallen and the bodies of thousands had been turned into dust and the dust gathered itself into one ribbon that was pulled across the flawless blue sky. All day we breathed the dust and we waited for news of loved ones, and the loved ones of loved ones, and the city was quieter than it had ever been. All night we saw the dust in the light cast by lamps, both inside and outside our homes, and we knew what the dust was. They didn’t need blood donations, and handwritten notes scribbled onto Red Cross bulletins told me not to come. Not enough survivors.
But this is why I was naïve: Because I thought that it was all over. “It” being violence. I thought that our country would stop because now we were breathing in the dust of the dead and how could we ever inflict this on another people again, now that we knew the loss so intimately. I remember how it felt in my body. I was so sure. That we would bow out. Call a truce. That we would just stop.
Instead we built a tower and went to war.
I’m a teacher.
Here’s this week’s homework: Watch 13th, the documentary about this country’s prison system. I’m not done with it yet because last night I turned it off after I saw families with babies and toddlers jailed for daring to cross our precious border. I went downstairs and watched my boy sleep.
Fuck fuck fuck. I’m scared. My coworker told me we jail undocumented people above Chelsea Market. I’m trying to remember now; are there windows? Is there air? How many floors? How many rooms? How many are there?
My friend watched Birth of a Nation and 13th in one week and said to me, “Why aren’t we rioting?”
Here in this city people keep pointing over there and thataways — South, West, East, North — all those other people in other places cheer for that man, but we buy brownies and coffees and sushi from Chelsea Market and go sit on the Highline and sigh; satisfied.
We move into buildings in neighborhoods that we used to fear, and throw up our hands, “I can’t afford anywhere else,” and don’t ask who lived there before, and where they are now.
I’m surprised actually, after all that there’s been, that it was the locker room that did it.
When I was 13 and a man followed me down the street calling me a bitch for not smiling back no one said shit. And when I was 6 and told the principal that a boy had touched my butt after I told him not to, my teacher yelled at me and told me I didn’t know what private parts were. And when I was 14 it was a teacher who told a school bus full of boys that me and my boyfriend were “fucking like rabbits.”
I get the women who are interviewed on the news and say that what he said is no big deal, because in a way it isn’t: It’s the same old, nothing new. Every single one of us has walked out of a room and felt all eyes slide down us; we have known what they said once we are gone. Because one in four of us has been abused and I think the number would be much higher if we counted every single unwanted touch and word, if we got rid of the term “date rape.”
I don’t think this country knows anything about who to blame for what.
Tomorrow is election day and, metaphorically, this morning I can’t breathe. Which is nothing at all like being choked to death. Which I tried not to see the video of because I read the transcript and I follow the news and I don’t need to watch someone die and once I see an image I cannot stop it from scrolling endlessly through my brain but then I was watching Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next and I saw the tape and for three nights and four days I saw Eric Garner being strangled to death in public, choking, gasping, stating as clearly as he could, “I can’t breathe.” And they choked him to death anyway, and when I lay down to sleep that is what I saw and the second I opened my eyes that is what I saw, and that is nothing. My pain is nothing, really, because in my family line, the brown has been blended out by the white, and so my son’s body is not in the crossfire.
But what am I doing about the boys who are?
And yes, fuck you “all lives matter.” And fuck you French cops for standing over that woman on the beach and forcing her to take off her clothes. And fuck you Europe for closing your borders. And fuck you America for closing your borders.
Yes, it is locker room talk. That’s exactly what it is, what it has been.
But now, these days, it’s feeling like this whole fucking country is the locker room and maybe you, the ones claiming “boys-will-be-boys,” have been right all along: Maybe America has been asking for it.