A girl in my Sociology class turns around during a class activity on goals to start a conversation with me. Her opening line is: ‘I want to get married.’ I nod and smile. She does not ask me my goals, just continues telling me the sort of guy she’d like to be with and how many kids she’d like. Thoughtfully, she adds, ‘My mom told me to meet someone and marry them. You don’t wanna date around because you wanna be fresh for the guy and not a….you know what.’
My cousin’s Facebook ‘About Me’ lists things she would like in a man. There is nothing about her or the things she does, only qualities she finds attractive. ‘Looking for someone who can play the guitar and cook a great dinner,’ she wrote. I can hear her bubbly, singsong voice while reading it. She is thirteen years old and has told me that girls ‘oughta only kiss their husbands and that’s it.’ When I ask her what she wants to be when she’s older she says, ‘Married.’
My male friend tells me that he has no problem with what girls do, but that he would not date a girl who’s ‘been around’ because she’d be ‘dirty.’ I wonder if each time someone touches you, a part of you is soiled. If there are piles of dirt in the spaces where others’ fingers once rested. In the shower, I try to scrub the smell of dirt from myself, but come out, still polluted, with red scratch marks all over me.
Being a ‘you know what’ taught me some things: that I do not want to be touched by somebody who will judge my past. That I am not a tally book, with others’ names burned into me. If you have to label me as something, let it be a human being."