Girl Code 101. We are the finaglers. The exceptions. The girls who have not run the mile in four years, who layer deep v-necks with excuses, eyelashes bat wiffle balls at the male gym teachers.
We are the girls taught to survive by using our bodies as Swiss army knives.
Calculated scrunched notes, giggles, and friendly forearm lingers. “You’re so funny.”
“Please don’t touch me.”
We convince ourselves there is protection in being polite. “No, you can go first. Girls, we have to be nice.” Male kindness is so alien to us, we assume it is seduction every time.
We remember aged nine the first time we are cat-called. Twelve, fraudulent bodies calling us women before we have the chance to.
Thirteen, the year Dad says wearing short skirts in the city is like driving without a seat belt. Fifteen, we are the unmarked tardies, waved attentions, honorable mentions, and lush floral dresses.
Sixteen, we are the public school mannequins. Seventeen, we know the answer, but do not raise our hands.
Instead, we are answering to guidance counselors who ask us,
“Well… what were you wearing?”
Their voices clink-less toasts, we are led off the hook from hall monitors, retired football coaches who blow kisses and whisper “Little Miss Lipstick” into our ears in the high school cafeteria.
We shiver, but hey, at least we still get away without wearing our student IDs.
This is not female privilege. This is survival of the prettiest.
We are playing the first game we learned how to. We are the asses smacked by boys who made welcome mats of our yoga pants.
We are easily startled. Who wouldn’t be? We are barked at from the street, we are the girls petrified of the business school boys, who learn to manifest success by refusing to take “no” for an answer.
And I wonder what it says about me that I feel pretty in a dress, but… powerful in a suit.
If misogyny has been coiled inside of me for so long, I forget I will not stand before an impatient judge with an Adam’s apple, hand grasping gavel, ready to pound a wooden mark.
Give me a god I can relate to. Commandments from a voice both soft and powerful. Give me one accomplishment of Mary’s that did not involve her vagina.
Give me decisions, a wordless wardrobe, and opinion list dress, give me a city where my body is not public property. Once my friend and I got cat-called on Michigan Avenue, and she said “Fuck you” while I said “Thank you,”
… Like I was trained to.