The way I was raised, it was very obvious, my femaleness. My mom was almost raped when she was 13 years old working in a fish factory in Portugal. A boy trapped her in a closet there. I’m not sure exactly how she got out of it, but I think that shaped how she raised me.
I was very protected. She always kept me chaperoned when I went out. My brother would always be there on my dates and when I was out with friends – our friends. My mom always told me not to smile at men, not to look at them, because they would think you liked them. Even in my work, cutting hair, she warned me not to cut men’s hair saying, “When you touch a man, something happens.” I knew she was talking about sex, but she never said it exactly. The closest we ever got to having a sex talk was the night before I got married, and I remember she told me, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
After I got married, my new life took some getting used to for me. In the middle of the night I would wake up in a panic next to my husband thinking I had to go home. He would tell me to go back to sleep and that it was okay, but I felt guilty. Everything seemed to change from one day to the next, and really I was thinking, “What did that little piece of paper do?”
Of course giving birth is something I think of immediately when I think about being a woman. While I was in labor everyone else had whiskey and was eating pizza and I told them all to get out because I couldn’t handle the smell of the pizza, but really I wanted everyone to suffer with me. I was definitely resentful of all the men in the room. I remember thinking after my water broke, “How is this baby going to come out?” With my first child I was in labor for 24 hours. The second one only five. I had wanted an abortion, but my mother would have disowned me. She found out because my husband brought it up when we were all together. I was pissed, but I held it together for her sake. It was really painful, and I had drugs to help me. And fuck no I didn’t have an orgasm, but I guess if you perceive it to be pleasure, it could be.
Submitted by Anonymous, Edited by Arianne Keegan