"One Color" - Neil Hilborn & Renee Schminkey
My school was fairly progressive; they even taught contraception in my sex ed class.
–When I was fourteen, my dad handed me a box of condoms and said, “You know how to use these, right?”
We were taught which preventive methods were the most effective.
–I was in Texas, so dads with shotguns.
And where to go if something broke, what to take, how to fix
this mess you’d gotten yourself in.
We were taught about herpes, and gonorrhea, and syphilis,
and how to keep all your fluids to yourself.
–My friends taught me which clinics wouldn’t tell my parents,
Which ones handed out free condoms.
But I was never taught that there are worse things that could happen than a baby or a disease.
Yeah, we learned about roofies,
–We learned to respect when a woman says no,
We learned about protecting your drink, carrying pepper spray,
–We learned what to do when a woman is assaulted,
But not that this could happen to me.
I was a virgin when I was raped for the first time.
–When it happened to me, it was 10 a.m. and my parents were home.
My textbook hadn’t described the way I wouldn’t even try to fight, there was no paragraph for how to stop her/him without making a scene,
There wasn’t a worksheet for how to stop him without waking my sleeping parents,
–There was no correct answer to her threats of suicide when I wasn’t in the mood,
There was no manual for the polite victim.
You know, it wasn’t like they said it’d be.
I was sober, he was sober
They didn’t teach me that I wouldn’t know how to protect myself,
That my lungs would close up and we would make pretend husband and wife, make pretend love,
–the thing about pretend
is that it flattens everything to one color,
–it makes it too simple,
it makes it one syllable and that syllable is always captioned as a yes.
–They didn’t teach me that I could wanna be with someone but not always want them,
That being curious about sex didn’t mean I was asking for it.
What I learned
–was that I was supposed to want it.
I was supposed to feel stolen, I was supposed to feel like less of a human being.
–I learned that if you don’t scream,
no one will listen to you.
–They don’t write about the ones that got away.
I learned that foundation comes in fourteen different shades
No one wants to hear
that your skin is changing color;
–they only ask how you’re doing
to hear you say fine.
–I learned I was supposed to feel fine–we were lovers after all–with a love like that, you hardly have to ask, right?
I don’t wanna blame my school.
–I don’t wanna blame her.
I don’t wanna blame my church, or my mother, or even the boy–we were just children–but this is preventable so someone must be responsible for preventing it. We can teach this better.
–Some paintings are built from a thousand points of color,
If you stand too close a sunset becomes just a series of red dots.
–We teach that rape is always a man in an alley,
Always a clenched jaw and closed fist,
always a stained white shirt.
But I never used my pepper spray.
–I never had to worry about an uncle, or a locker room.
Do not confuse one story for all stories.
Do not stare at a red dot and say the whole painting is just one color.