This article was written by freelance contributor Maggie O’Byrne 

Disclaimer: This poem will make you uncomfortable, as well it should. However, if you are triggered by discussions of sexual assault, please take care of yourself and understand your limits. 

You, whose hands grasp at my flesh 

With desperate patience. 

Desperate to have what it is you own. 

Desperate to sink your teeth into the shiny new toy, 

with its taught, creamy complexion. 

Excited to experience what you have long been craving. 

Something not yet scarred by the gifts of womanhood, 

Not yet privy to the beauty of stretch marks or laugh lines. 

Because you do not see these as assets.

You want what you are told you should be able to have, 

The ultimate double standard. 

You crave the product of your ownership but balk at the results

The virgin and the mother. 

Old enough to look good

Old enough to birth new toys

…too young to say no 

Your desperation is patient. 

There is no doubt in your mind that you own this and are owed. 

You are owed because you provide life, and that life has conditions. 

That life has a future, but it is not its own. 

You, who relishes in the knowledge that your ownership is forbidden. 

A fruit you place on a crystal pedestal until it rots away, like all the others. 

It will be taken out and enjoyed, as you see fit. The sweetness of its flesh bitten into at your choosing. Shared only when you will allow it. 

What good is your ownership if you can’t profit from it?

But who can blame you? This is what you were taught. 

Perhaps not explicitly but you listened, nonetheless. 

You were conditioned too. 

To read between the lines. 

To see only what you own and what is already owned by another. 

And you are validated. By every purchase of a photo. 

Every click.

Every judge.

The lawyers that stood by you willingly and the people that did so out of fear. 

The police that chose not to charge you,

…there were bigger fish to fry after all.

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