A #MeToo Poem by Sarah Saltiel
My 14-year-old brother sent me a video called “Answers to 36 Stupid Feminist Questions”. Approval settled thick and heavy into his silence (I tasted it). The same day, a strange man sent me a message (“Do u want some of this cock”— I wasn’t deemed worthy of the complete “youness”, I have been whittled down to a letter that fits sharply in my belly, I say it and feel it deep in the back of my throat with everything else stuck there, warm and wet and festering, I feel those versions of myself, I have been told that that they are me and I am sick with them) I sloughed the message off with my dying skin, scrubbed it away until I bled raw but embedded deeper in my body I can feel the looks that I have received, they scuttle under my skin like beetles, I have collected them like dead teeth, saved in a jar, I pull them out and each look tells me that its owner wants to taste my gristle and swirl me around in the backs of their mouths under their molars—
“Question 1: Why do men make movies where women just sit around talking about men? Answer: Only rom coms do that, which you women love so much. And if you don’t like it, why don’t you get off your asses and make movies--“
Breathe. Sleep. Think that someday you will have the energy to—
“Question 2: Why don’t men think that women are funny? Answer: We don’t think that. But also women aren’t as funny because they don’t get that humor is just a way of dealing with serious things. Rape jokes are just jokes. We’re making them in good fun. Relax.”
Another women and I sat in a café and talked about whittling our first names to letters so that on the spine of a book our names wouldn’t scream with their lack of male-ness— What do we talk about when we talk about men? It took me weeks to put to voice the fingers that broke through, entered into my body, stirred around the sleep that was heavy inside of it— reaching, grasping (clawing) What do we talk about when we talk about men in movies/do we talk about men/do we talk?
Question 3, how do I respond to a little brother without screaming, why do we teach him that he needs to be strong/strong enough to overpower, Question 3, why—
I receive a message from a strange man (“Ur lips look like they give good head lol”) fifth from him, unanswered. I set my head down, press my fingertips into my eyes until I can see colors like static— I feel my fingers pulse and I drain away. Beside me, a man gulps his coffee and from inside his throat, cavernous, echoing, I can hear him swallow.