We Are Still Here

By Erica Somerson

It is September 23, 2016, and you’re reading this because our classmates, faculty, campus, community, state, and nation didn’t listen last time /
We are marching again and will continue to until the only definition for “red zone” is the 20-yard stretch on a football field /

It is another year, and there is an endless list of reasons why each of us is here today

I am here today because
I am tired of people pretending like my male boss telling me that my tattoos send blood flow to his penis constitutes a safe and normal work environment
My friend is here today because
They are tired of worrying if their friends will make it home safe and what safe even means anymore because the male eyes that follow down the block and
k e y s clamped between k n u c k l e s
and wondering if the police are there to help or hurt
doesn’t sound like
the definition of “safe”
We are here today because
We are tired of the dialogue about sexual assault revolving around “slutty” clothing and excessive drinking and the policing of innocent people’s bodies and actions /
Tired of hearing about privileged perpetrators with undeserved sympathetic go-fund-me’s to save their names and sentences so short they are insulting /
Tired of the constant need to explain and justify our lived realities
Of being scrutinized and degraded and belittled and invalidated and re-traumatized Tired of the patriarchal mistrust of women making all survivors question whether what happened to us was really sexual assault /

As much as we are tired, exhausted, and frustrated, we must be even more empowered and ready to change these injustices /
We are here because boys will not be boys
because we aren’t playing the “victim card”
that card isn’t in our hand
we didn’t ask to be dealt in this round
We are here because the protection of white male rapists is prioritized over the safety of black and brown men /
because one in two people who identify as transgender will have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime /
because the average life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 years old
because “Step In, Speak Up” only works if you actually step in and speak up

It is 2016 and the general population likes to tell us we are all equal:
This is post-racial America
Yet our daily experiences scream otherwise
It is another year and we are here as survivors and advocates demanding the creation and implementation of spaces in which we can all co-exist without fear of violence or forced removal /

We are here because we refuse to be silenced and ignored
Here because our bodies are ours alone,
our bodies are ours period, no comma, no if, no and, no when;
our bodies are ours to make uninhibited informed decisions about /
We are here because we are here

Headshot of Erica Somerson

Erica Somerson is a third year Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology student at Ball State University. When she is not coordinating the SlutWalk event on campus, she enjoys snacking, traveling, and talking about Wisconsin.

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