Advice for little girls
Take up space, adopt a wide stance, spread out, stand tall. Be uppity, avoid clothing that confines and shoes you can’t run in. If expected to be pretty and pleasing, ask who is served by that. If encouraged to be subservient, obsequious, or self-sacrificing, refuse. If they ply you with dolls and toy kitchens, demand equal time with blocks, legos, and cuisinaire rods. You get to choose. If any of your relatives, male or female, comes at you grinning and demanding, “Gimme some sugar,” or “Give us a kiss,” run. No one has the right to kiss you unless you want them to. No one gets to pinch your cheeks or your bottom. Your body belongs to you and you get to choose. If your mother beats you with a belt, a hairbrush, a wooden paddle, or her fists, get help. Leave home. If your stepfather fondles you and tells you not to tell anyone: bite, kick, roar, gouge his eyes, and make a great noise. Tell everyone. Your body belongs to you and you get to choose. Read widely, educate yourself on all that interests and inspires you. Write your mind. When you make it to your teens and someone calls you slut, whore, prick-tease: tell them your body belongs to you, tell them you get to choose. You did not come into the world to be somebody else’s plaything. You’re on a mission to be entirely who you are, and you can only get there in the body you have, and that body. Belongs. To you.
A song by Sibongile Khumalo.