Last year, my friend directed a body positivity art project that was published in a small feminist magazine. When she asked me to participate in the project, I had just left an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship, came out as bisexual, and began to view monogamy as something inherently oppressive in my life. My weight was fluctuating. My ex’s friends harassed me, late night texted me, and threatened me.
When my friend told me she was looking for people to strip down and talk about their relationship with their body, I knew that the project would expose a lot more than my naked self. I knew it would challenge my comfort and force me to process emotions that I hadn’t yet uncovered. I knew it was what I needed.
Today, my roommate burst into our apartment with news. The frat boys who live next door had found out about the project and declared their mission to find “my nudes.”
I never hid my nudes, darlings.
In fact, I’ve gone home with one of the aforementioned frat boys multiple times, and each time – for one strange reason/misunderstanding/whiskey dick or another – we haven’t had sex. He’s had (and has) the opportunity to see my naked body, live in the flesh.
But he can’t pass that around as a spectacle to his friends.
Today, the philosopher informed me that he received an email from his building about noise complaints. The warm weather this weekend required open windows and a little-rowdier-than-usual afternoon sex. The philosopher says he likes my moans. I admitted that I never even recall making them – they just happen. I blushed, but I will continue to walk the halls of his building with my shoulders square and my eyes raised.
Last weekend, several of my ex’s fraternity brothers cornered me at a bar to attempt to humiliate me on the basis of my political views and sexuality. Later that night, one of their girlfriends tapped me on the shoulder and tried to hug me when I turned around as if she was a friend. They hovered around me the entire night, watching and jeering. I was not entirely unbothered, but I laughed and I danced anyways.
– Y’all wanna talk about me sooooo bad! –
When I walk into leftist circles younger than me, I feel the gaze of the room land on me. I hear about my name in the barista’s mouths at the local hipster coffee shop. I see people that I’ve slept with lower their eyes but smirk as I pass. I smile.
Growing up, my mother taught me, do not speak unless you are spoken to. Respect your elders. Keep your head down.
I did for years. I silently endured. It never stopped anyone from talking. Never stopped men from taking. Never stopped elders from dismissing.
After my break-up, I became muse to my sex goddess, vampy feminist savior. She rolled her eyes as I writhed around with embarrassment after sloppy one-nighters or tinder matches.
“Did you want the sex?” She asked. I sighed, Yes.
“Did you hurt anyone?” No.
“Get over yourself. At least steal his headphones for the walk home next time.”
I was her work in progress. By summer, the art monster was born.
I am unbothered. I am shameless. Y’all keep talking, calling me whore / leader / icon / mysterious / intimidating. Positive or negative, y’all keep talking, and I’ll keep living. Living ethically, but unapologetically. Living art monster.