the innocent woman


You know what the problem is? The problem is that I’m allowing other people’s idea of my dream trickle into my consciousness. My dream is like cement undried. It will not influence or disrupt itself. It already has a sort of DNA that tells it what to do. It’s only task is to solidify and become permanent. But until cement dries it is impressionable. It can be moved by outside force. It can be reshaped by the paw prints of stray kittens. It can be scarred by stick-etched obscenities authored by annoying children. That’s what the problem is. Because it is still unclear how Emerald wants her life to solidify, there are foot and finger prints all over it that do not belong to me. That’s troublesome because it goes against everything that brought me here to you. I cannot be afraid of risks. I must be confident in my decisions. I’m building a brand and a business. I’m the boss. I’m paving this cement on my own.

When I was a teen I secretly fantasized about having pierced nipples. I don’t recall what was so attractive about it back then. I do remember, though, thinking I’d never go through with it. “What if people think I’m…?” Societal approval is powerful. It has the potential to make or break a person’s self worth. We are all shaped, propelled and hindered by it. We have all experienced shame and praise at the hands of public normalcy. About 7 months ago I proved my former self false. With a “go for it” nudge from my sister I walked into a tattoo parlor in Royal Oak feeling the highest level of confidence I had ever felt. I was about to go against the grain. I was about to stick it to a moral code that I had never actually subscribed to. I’m glad I did it. And post piercing I often wonder how breasts became figure heads for sex and submission instead of power and nourishment. How did breasts become cursed by a taboo so strong that women ought feel ashamed for feeding their young while there are open eyes around? When did men grant themselves the authority to police the breasts of their wives and daughters and little sisters? I feel powerful and more womanly having taken my breasts into my own hands. How come I had to worry what people would think of me before? Breasts are not sex organs. They are not lewd, disgusting or offensive. Having pierced nipples doesn’t put me in any particular box or allude to anything I may take interest in. Neither does showing them. Neither does talking about them.

*Congratulations, Karlesha, on accomplishing a goal despite adversity and on beautifully restarting an important dialogue.

Is the concept of being free something we have the capacity to understand? Freedom is risky. It’s also terrifying. Freedom, as we pseudo-fathom it, is total control of all personal cause and effect. It isn’t just doing what you want, but it’s having no weapon formed against you as you carry on. Freedom is knowing that you, yourself, are a weapon against the unfree. Free people are threatening. Their boundless spirits and limitless capabilities bring empires to their knees. Captivity is so secure that it makes freedom unscrupulous. Freedom is foreign. I think we all want it, though. I think we all want to think for ourselves and light our own way. Is control all there is to it? Control has gravity but I think there may be more. Real freedom, maybe, is only acquired when you can reach beyond what you’ve learned to see it as. Freedom could be a myth too, though. It could be an ideal set in place to force us to think we’re unworthy. Maybe we’re hamsters on a wheel just running after something that isn’t there. I imagine there was a time where people weren’t “free”, they just lived. Maybe. I want to just live. Maybe. I should sleep. Maybe freedom is being able to rest.

At all costs, you have to be yourself. Being yourself isn’t solely “being” though. It isn’t just present tense. You have to pay homage to who you were and who they thought you would become. Take each step in honor of the little girl you used to be. Do everything now that that kid deserved and deliver yourself from everything she held onto. Be yourself. Nobody really likes that manufactured instagram meme façade. Find your place in this jigsaw puzzle of a life. You’re the piece no one can ever find.

You’re the peace no one can ever find.

Until just now I’d always say “I always struggle with this question”. Truthfully, though, it isn’t the question I struggle with. It’s the answer. Who exactly am I? Embarrassed, I usually transfer the blame onto the question itself, as simple as it is, to avoid the dissatisfaction of not being able to explain the most essential being to my human experience. When I was a girl I decided that I couldn’t consider myself a true woman until I knew myself and could describe or define myself entirely. I still hold myself to that. I am a pseudo-woman by those standards. I’m an almost woman. I am a seed post germination, but a flower with it’s pedals still shut to its celestial worth. Who am I? Who do people think I am? Is that important? Is it better to know who you are, who you think you are, or who you want to be? I’m better at asking questions. I think the questions we ask reveal more than answers sometimes. I’m lost now. I’m lost in my life, in my desires, in my mind, in this prose. I’m lost and afraid. I’m lost an amused. I’m lost and confused. Who am I? What am I? Where am I?

I don’t know.

I lost my phone almost a month ago and JUST ordered a replacement this evening. To be honest, it’s been lovely having this peace. I’ve only been in contact with a select few and there’s a certain idk-ness to that concluding in 3-5 business days. It was nice not having people come to me because they need something. It’s been nice not feeling so taxed and having extra thought space to create things in my mind. I’ve spent a lot of my life being something to other people and close to nothing to myself. I think many women have. I’m in a new place. I think I’m entering a new level of consciousness. Possibly. I feel aware of myself and my capabilities in a way that I haven’t previously. I have this strong desire to do shit on my own. Granted, I’ve always been very independent, but I mean… I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want anyone to be CC’d on my ideas unless I specifically involve them. I only want people to know what I want them to know and I don’t want everyone knowing the same thing, and by “everyone” I mean like 5 people. And I don’t want people to feel a way if I come off as aloof or secretive or whatever else during this time. I’m trying. I’m dreaming. Something is changing in my life and I just want it to myself right now. I want my SELF all to myself. Is that selfishness? I don’t care. A woman’s vision is hers to have and she shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it. I haven’t gone anywhere. It’s not personal, so don’t make it that way. But on the other hand though, #factsonly, I miss my phone and you too. Kinda.

Photo: Bree Gant

I Lost My Phone
-Emerald Shaw

#WhiteWomanPrivilege is…

Never having to worry that someone is going to think you’re stealing while you’re in a store.
Being able to openly feel a way about WoC expressing their feelings about white privilege and minority disadvantage.
Being able to leave your home without combing your hair.
Being able to ask for help in an unfamiliar neighborhood without being shot and killed.
Knowing that if your son is hurt or murdered justice will be served ASAP.
Getting angry in public and not fitting a stereotype.
Being able to find foundation.
Planning a feminist event on a Louisiana plantation and acting like you don’t understand why black women are mad about it.
Having the option to acknowledge racism. Also having the option to ignore it.
Being beautiful and/or intelligent without the societal limitations of your complexion.

I admire women who are free and connected with their bodies. It takes a certain level of awareness and “unashamedness”. I think that breed of confidence is so attractive. I’m falling in love with the physical aspects of myself and the further I fall the more I want people to see what I’ve learned to appreciate. I don’t think women should have to cover themselves if they don’t want to. I don’t want to cover myself. I’m getting older and more radical in my thoughts and hiding just doesn’t fit anymore. I want people to see my thighs and everything else as much as I want them to hear my honest tongue. I’m obsessed with how my hips create a smooth explosion from my waist, with the fullness of my bosom and the silver there. I want people to know that. Every woman deserves to feel like she can be open about how she looks and her feelings regarding. Every woman deserves to feel good about what happened after puberty.

Free Write About Bodies
-Emerald Shaw

The Innocent Woman 1/8/14

Innocence is a box. It’s a limit, especially in womanhood. It’s a faux standard that halts you as much as it haunts you. I’m aware of the perceived innocence that is associated with me. It’s kind of like a ‘kick me’ sign. It controls the way you move through life but it only serves purpose to those who can see it (*cough*everyone but you). I’m genuine, I’m usually honest, I’m nice, I mean well, I stay out of trouble, I’m trustworthy, and I know how to shut up and mind my own business. I think those are what equate to innocence for people. Or maybe something else, I don’t know. But what happens when the innocent woman steps across the line a little bit? Does the sign no longer stick to her back if she expresses her anger or has a glass of Hennessey? What if she smokes a blunt and has sex with someone solely for its sake? What happens when the girl you swore you knew blooms into a woman who is not afraid of herself, nor afraid of you? Being the “innocent woman” is hard. I enjoy being sweet and adorable but I also enjoy these new found aspects of myself. Women are multifaceted enough to be sanguine spirits AND go to a bar with as much cleavage exposed as possible. I’m leaving my box for a chance at life because, #tbh, if you think I’m innocent you don’t know the first thing about me.

Womanism 12/20/13 (acrostic)

We are not just our sex
Organs. We are not plastic figurines for
Men to giggle and laugh
At. We are
Not weak or being
Insensitive when we
Speak against injustice. We are

- Emerald Shaw