It must had been in third grade that my daughter Ella was assigned a project for Black History Month. She was assigned Maya Angelou.
I was unaware of how this selection would impact my view of being a feminist mom.
We eagerly trekked to the public library to check out children’s books on Angelou. I expected the usual broad view on Angelou’s life illustrated by cute watercolors — not so much a whitewash of Angelou’s life, but one that would be generally acceptable for elementary children to read. As with any revolutionary figure, the book would have to deal with racism and discrimination. What I had not planned on was the book, if not both, to deal head on with Angelou’s rape at the age of eight by her mother’s boyfriend. Keep reading »
About five years ago, my sister relayed a story to me about a professor she had at New Jersey City University who had his own book, Into the Heart: One Man’s Pursuit of Love and Knowledge among the Yanomama, listed as required reading on his syllabus. My sister refused to purchase the book. It was not merely a protest against a professor taking advantage of his students to sell his own work, it was a protest against white privilege and most importantly: RAPE. Keep reading »
When I was 18, I moved to Los Angeles to audition for roles. My boyfriend planned to come later. One night, a guy friend called. He said he needed a good night’s sleep for a meeting, as he’d been crashing on someone’s couch. I had known him for some time, so I said to come over and I set him up with a clean towel. We sat on the bed and talked for a while, then I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was inside me.
At first, I felt so disoriented and numb, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I wondered if I had done something to give him the wrong idea. I felt afraid of making him angry. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to offend him. I just wanted it to be over. My childhood had come back to haunt me again: Because of the physical abuse, I didn’t believe there were borders between other people’s bodies and my own. I didn’t believe I had a voice.
Actress AnnaLynne McCord — best known for her role on the “90210″ reboot — has written a very powerful essay for Cosmopolitan called “Why I’m Done Staying Quiet About My Sexual Assault” that I urge you to read, as it demonstrates how a woman’s feeling of ownership over her body can be chipped away piece by piece. Keep reading »