ENOUGH: It Takes a Woman

By

ENOUGH is a Rumpus series devoted to creating a dedicated space for essays, poetry, fiction, comics, and artwork by women and non-binary people that engage with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

The series will run every Tuesday afternoon. Each week we will highlight different voices and stories.

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An Inventory of Things Which Are the Same
Lindsey Novak

The rain-soaked sigh of the cars outside the window,
parse it for all the things it didn’t say—
a place to hide the bodies
& a place to store the bags;

falling in love with the stomach burn,
a constellation of moments.

Upon finding the hung squirrel
in the eaves of the carport,
we whispered augury, treachery,
blasphemy.

When setting yourself on fire is no longer a
metaphor,
but is happening in the backyard—
maybe these things are always the same.

I aborted your baby
with some whisky & some pills,
that old coat hanger trick
in my genes.

& I’m sorry
for the late-night fights,
& the sinus trouble
& the rain.

I’m sorry for all of these things
which are the same.

*

Amended
Rebecca Evans

Women do not pee standing.

One reason behind
our ineligibility to fly fighter aircraft.
Military-designed piddle packs,
made for men,
and, women, not owning a penis,
would not find relief
through in-flight urination.

It had nothing to do with standing.

Yet they allowed us
as their test pilots,
throwing our bodies to the wind
to ensure the safety of our male counterparts.

They argued, we shouldn’t fly combat
in the seat of a fighter because
_______We bleed
_______We bear children
_______We carry breast tissue
_______We own less bone density
_______We are weaker
_______We are emotional
_______We wear more body fat
_______We cannot handle g-force like a man
_______We are not men.

Men black-out more than women
during g-force missions.

It seems safer
to be awake during a fight.

Sliding through bureaucracy,
we blasted cannons and shot guns.
We flew Cargo Craft into war zones,
_______dropping supplies, medicine, troops, food
_______in the center of bomb drops, missles, gunfire.

Joan and Queen Boudica will tell you
women have lived on the front lines
for all of time.

Despite Collocation,
we survived close-proximity violence.

They debated, women alongside men,
would negatively impact unit morale.
Romance, between the troops;
a disruption of fighting-capability.

Imagine love
in war.

They challenged, women taken POW;
worse will happen
at the hands of their captors
than to a male.

41,000 women deployed to combat.
Two taken captive.

A female-POW sexually assaulted;
asked to stay silent.

They said, men hold an
“instinctual protective aggression,
degrading unit combat effectiveness.”

They claimed,
while men can be programmed to kill,
they are not programmable to neglect women.

What about the one in five?

What about male comrades
raping us in the fields?

What worse will the “enemy” do?

They realized, modern warfare
requires “winning minds,”
fierce Lioness’ and
cultural sensitivity.

We knew all along,
it takes a woman.

*

When You Forget “No” Exists as an Option
Shuang Ang

let me begin by saying
            i’m fine, your honor.

we all have places
            we cannot walk past

without first filling
            the cutting room floor.

betty has that flyover.
            heather has this wall.

john has the court house
            bathroom & i have half

a dozen stairwells.
            after all, this is the age

of gaussian blurs. online exorcisms.
            we process things

digitally, now.
            & so i forgive him

for the selfish silence.
            for the way his fingers,

blunted to nubs, persist.
            for choosing the corner

i turn every morning. for the fact
            that i did not say no,

your honor. or yes,
            but does that really matter?

after all, there’s got to be a thousand
            stairwells in this country,

& only a handful
            i cannot stand to be in.

*

against articulation
Sarah DeYoreo

after spending the first part of her life learning to smile & to laugh & to comb her hair & to do her face & to flirt with men & to say thank you & i’m sorry & to say nothing at all & to go along with things & to be modest & alluring & approving & to validate & to praise & to calm herself & to calm others & to act as though calmness and civility were the name of the game & to act as though there was a game at all as though this were a football a baseball a boxing match a jean-clad father on a suburban lawn teaching his blonde smiling son how to catch a ball, swing a bat and not a struggle for life her life his life their lives our lives over and against unfeelingness, self-destruction, death—after all this and more, to the point where language burst like a too-full balloon and words lost their shapes, she spent the second part of her life learning to

let loose an inarticulate cry
at this fact of being articulated in such a way

***

Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler.

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ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women and non-binary people that engages with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence. We believe that while this subject matter is especially timely now, it is also timeless. We want to make sure that this conversation doesn’t stop—not until our laws and societal norms reflect real change. You can submit to ENOUGH here.

Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.

Visit the archives here.