The Fetishization of Girlhood

I first realized that men look at girls as sexual objects on the day of my kindergarten graduation. Our teacher had set the theme as a Hawaiian luau (yes, cultural appropriation was all the rage in the 1980s). The girls had made skirts of green paper streamers to wear over our swimsuits as well asContinue reading “The Fetishization of Girlhood”

On Father’s Day Weekend

My father kept an old Yamaha acoustic guitar in his bedroom. Sometimes I ran my child-round fingertips over the strings just to see if it was still in tune. It was, then. I whispered secrets into the sound hole, and it always whispered back. It smelled of dust and spruce and something metallic, like aContinue reading “On Father’s Day Weekend”

The Return

A sea-change had come over my parents’ house. The walls were still the same ice-blue. The kitchen where my father had assaulted me still had its polished parquet floor and the same Formica countertops. But once, there had been alliances. Once, my brother and I had commiserated in our rooms long into the night, plottingContinue reading “The Return”

The Sixth Assault

The summer I am 21 years old, I stand in my parents’ kitchen with the lights down. My mother is running errands. My brother is out with friends. I envy him. Our parents never give him the shakedown when he gets home. They never tell him he was gone too long. They never tell himContinue reading “The Sixth Assault”

My Other Grandfather

My father’s father was made of different stuff. I never knew him as Grandpa because he died the year I was born. There is only one picture of us together, and in it, he sits stiff and unsmiling, his wire-rim glasses glinting at the camera. He has my father’s long solemn face and the sameContinue reading “My Other Grandfather”

The Abuser in All of Us

Last night at Elliott Bay Book Company, author Val Brelinski read from her debut novel, The Girl Who Slept with God, and posed an impossible question: Is it possible to love another human being–parents, siblings, children, spouses–and not in some way damage the other person? Or is that part of the nature of intimate relationships?Continue reading “The Abuser in All of Us”