Content Note for talk about sexual assault and the criminal justice system/prison
Plastered all over social media were headlines and pictures of the blond-haired, blue eyed boy who was convicted of sexual assault. We know his name, and many of us know his story: "alcohol made me do it."
Within an hour of the first headlines, I took my Fiskars orange handled titanium-bladed scissors and lopped off over a foot of my hair. In the shower afterwards, my fingers kept running through hair that was no longer there; the familiar length and weight a ghost in my brain.
In 2010, I cut off all my hair after I had been raped, as short as I could with scissors. Before that, I had cut my hair to my shoulders after leaving my parents and wandering as a nomad from couch to couch, not sure of my life. I've only cut my hair since after a partner moved out and left empty promises that we would be together again. I had been meaning to cut my hair, which was down past my waist, for months; but it never felt right.
Physically removing old growth, dead cells. Hair cutting is how I gain control over uncontrollable situations, how I signify change to myself. It's traumatic; I feel the loss and I twist it into a new start.
Hair fell like autumn leaves, and now I'm in winter. Soon it will be spring.
I don't know how to think of Brock Turner, nor do I really want to think of him, to mull on the conundrum presented by my belief that people should not be locked in prisons alongside the complicated feeling of anger that he was given a break. Because alcohol made him do it, because he had a bright and promising future. Because prison would impact him irreparably. What about the woman he penetrated digitally behind a dumpster while she was unconscious?
What about me, who found out that the person who assaulted me now has a small son to teach his outspoken misogyny? Who was never given the affirmation that I didn't do anything wrong, or that he did do something wrong?
I took my hair and put it in a ziplock bag, hiding it in my shelves. The last hair I removed is in front of me, in an old ceramic pot, covered in dried flowers and old fortunes.
When I was eight, I read about mummies found in Peru that were centuries old but still had full heads of hair. We were about to move away from my childhood home, so I cut a lock of my hair, tied it with a ribbon, and walked next door to the school I went to for kindergarten and first grade. I hunched next to a young maple tree, and I buried it, wanting to keep part of me there forever.