Wake up angry, rub the wrinkles around your eyes. They don’t go away. You’re angry. You’ve been waking up angry for years now. It shows.
There are scratches on your skin where you can’t stand yourself. You brandish them to the world. ‘This is what you have made me.’ This is what the world made you - strong and wild-eyed and built on insecure foundations. This is what the world made you - angry and determined.
You glare at men irately in the street and take up both armrests on public transport. People side-eye you as though you’re unreasonable. A woman sits next to you. She looks tired. You let her have her fair share of the armrest.
Someone opens the door for you on the way to work. You say thank you. They slap your ass as you pass by. You have never wished so vehemently that you could take your words and wrap them around someone’s throat and twist and see their eyes bulge in fright. In your head, they echo words that you’re sure you’ve heard leave the mouth of half the female protagonists you’ve ever seen on screen. ‘What are you going to do to me?’
So, you admit it. ‘Do to me.’ I am going to do something to you. You aren’t going to want it. I’m laughing at you, not with you. This is to you, not with you, and certainly not for you. Remember that.
You stop choking them. They fall to the floor, gasping. You aren’t sure whether they’re trying to catch their breath because you used force against them or because you stood up for yourself and it actually scared them. You blink: in reality, there was a second where you decided whether to turn around and say something or to keep walking. You were unsure which would give them power and which would set them straight. You are already halfway down the street. They are still staring at your ass as you walk away. You are sure that both of your options would have empowered them, so you may as well have given them a bruise. But you are already gone.
You’ve been waking up angry since you were ten and you saw someone on the news talk mention women. What was ‘feminism’, and why did his lip curl when he said it? you wondered, and you searched, and you found red.
You found rape statistics, classroom statistics, boys-are-more-confident-than-girls statistics, why all men want their girlfriends to do anal, why you should please him, mothers taking their daughters to self defence classes, MRA speeches, pro-life opinions, the condescending and harmful thoughts of men before you in chalk on a Google search and the sudden knowledge that it would never hurt a single one of them.
That stranger who commented on Beyoncé’s picture saying exactly what he’d like to do to her will get hired straight out of college. Slack-jawed teachers will jokingly berate their students, preaching ‘boys will be boys’, before frowning pointedly at bare shoulders and skirts above the knee and ‘shouldn’t have risen to the bait’.
When you were ten, you found red, and you’ve never given up red since. Red in your mouth, red in your veins, red in your underwear. Red. Red on your fingernails, red on your lips. You put away nurturing pink and calm blue for another day. Today you wear red."