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I am not a person.

I am a disappointment. Fathers don’t want daughters. They want a son to play sports, earn trophies, and score during the championship game. They can call him “Junior” and teach him all he’ll need to know. Sons can get a scholarship for throwing a ball and running around with other sons. Dad will be so proud. He’ll tell all his buddies at the next poker game about how his son has done the family name well.  Fathers want a son who will be looked up to and popular amongst the ladies. “That’s my boy,” he’ll say. They’d worry too much about their daughters going out with the type of boy they would have raised.  Fathers want a son who can be a successful businessman. They can provide for the family while wearing a suit. They’ll buy nice Christmas gifts and drink expensive scotch while out with their pals. Daughters won’t be corporate CEOs and have a large paycheck. They’ll be secretaries, maybe.  Better yet, a housewife.  Daughters aren’t the ones bragged about at family reunions, unless they’re beautiful, with a husband who resembles the son they’ve always dreamed of. Fathers want a son who will follow in their footsteps and give them a sense of pride. Fathers don’t want daughters.

I am a piece of property. My boyfriend will choose me based upon specific expectations he has set. I need to look the part in order to fit in with whatever crowd I’m needed for. I have to be dumb enough so he can be the center of conversation, but still pretty enough to be worth the time. I can’t do the same to him. I don’t want to seem shallow. He needs to have his arm around me to show the other guys that I’m his and they can’t have me; I’m an ornament that’s supposed to look nice and show off his best features. I laugh on cue and act like I’m okay with his buddies’ side comments on my body.  I’m only there to prove he has someone. Has something.

I am a sex object. My body needs to stay in its best possible shape so my husband isn’t ashamed to sleep with me. Whatever his request may be, I should be willing to do it because he’s my husband, and I want him to be happy, don’t I? If it makes me uncomfortable, then I should get over it. I’m being silly. Maybe even a little selfish. He’s just trying to spice things up. He’s my husband and I should be more understanding of his needs.  The beginning years are like a fairytale with long talks about our glowing future. The touches are gentle and my heart swells when he looks into my eyes.  Now it has just become a routine of quickly undressing and avoiding eye contact. A way for him to unwind after a long day at work while I stayed home and read romance novels. There will be no story of that nature with us. No rose petals or champagne or scented candles. Just used sheets and empty kisses.

 

I am a womb. It’s my job to have children. I’m the one with the uterus. I’m supposed to carry my husband’s children and give him an excuse not to have sex with me. It doesn’t matter whether or not I wanted this child, I’m having it. I’m keeping it. It’s my fate to be impregnated, carry said child for 9 months, and be forced to do everything for two. To eat right, go to doctor’s appointments, and have my body ripped from the inside out for the sake of a perfect family.  Even after all of this, I must prove myself worthy. My husband will be a great dad for remembering his (or her) birthday and sometimes seeing him (or her) before bed. I could give my life for him (or her) and it still wouldn’t be enough.  I will be responsible for making sure this child turns out okay.  If she doesn’t, I have failed as a womb. A sad head shake. “Turned out just like her mother.” If he does, it was because he had a strong, supportive father. A pat on the back. “Just like his old man.”

 

I am a machine. I have to rise earlier than anyone else and creep down the stairs before the sun begins to peek over the horizon. Brew the coffee and make breakfast. My husband needs a big breakfast to keep his energy up during an exhausting day at work. Of course I’ll clean up the dishes. Of course I’ll get the kids up and ready for school. Of course. I only have fifteen minutes to get ready for work because I needed to help them put on their shoes. I wanted to take a shower this morning. I ran out of time.  Drop the kids off at school and head to work. I have to speed to get there on time. I go thirty over, fingers crossed that a cop doesn’t see me. I’m still late. My boss says it’s strike three. I have to be careful. He doesn’t have children.  It’s eight hours later and school is out. Their assignments are done before dinner and they eat all the vegetables on their plates.  “Daddy’s working late again tonight.” It was his turn to do the dishes. “No, I don’t know when he’ll be home.” He promised to help fold the laundry.  But he has to stay late. He is providing for the family.  Time for baths and pajamas and bedtime stories. I was supposed to take a shower while he got the kids ready for bed. Maybe tomorrow morning.  He comes home late, too tired to talk. We go to bed, but I don’t fall asleep. I need more time.  I wish he’d help me like he says he will. If I nag about it, he’ll tell me to quit my job so I can get more done. If I quit my job, he’ll resent me for the budget cuts. He doesn’t think of my feelings. Because machines don’t have feelings.

I am not a person. I am a woman. And they are not the same. 

 

Jessica Garrison is a professional writing major and women's, gender, and sexuality studies minor at Kutztown University.
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