marlene mountain
june 1987

but i just want some peace

(On listening to a conversation between a young Black man and Sonia Johnson after her talk at Appalachian State University in May 1987)

And he keeps saying, 'But I just want some peace' (meaning between him and a woman friend, or maybe several). And she says this and that and makes good sense about women having to find themselves and know themselves and free themselves.

'But I just want some peace.' And then she's talking about the Civil Rights movement and when Blacks were angry--finding themselves, knowing themselves, freeing themselves--and how they had to do it for themselves, and say no thanks, whitey, this is my fight, because each group, each person has to do it from within. And she's relating this to what women are saying to men, that they need their time, and, yes, they are angry about . . .

'But I just want some peace.' Then she's saying, well, there're lots of other women out there who won't give you any conflict, but if you want to try to understand these angry women.....

And I . . . but he's come to hear her speak and has stayed to ask her questions, I want so much to say: One time not too long ago I was in bed with my friend, and he was touching places I like touched (are you with me so far?) and places he likes to touch, and it came into my mind that there are some 80 million African and other moslem women who don't have those places to touch.

It was unnerving to ponder such a situation during those moments of sensations--it is at any time, but then it seemed a million times worse. In truth, that was the first, but not the last time I've had that horrifying realization in the middle of a pleasurable experience. Well, I want some peace too, Brother. But I know some things that quite often keep me from peace.

Women are becoming too (?) knowledgeable about the victimization of women and it hurts us, and it agitates us, and it makes us angry--and we speak out, and with loud voices even, and AT our men friends EVEN.

But that experience might not be personal enough I want to say. Just suppose you got a job in one of those countries. Maybe it happened you fell in love or wanted to have a relationship with a young women. Say, you didn't know about female genital mutilation.

Suppose you talked this young women into intimacy--something which might later ruin her life--but say you did and when you began to touch her, you found there was nothing to touch where you know you can give pleasure, and derive pleasure. What would you think, how would you react, what would your feelings be? Disgust? Maybe, even: Anger? Would you be the same person after that?

Would you still say, 'But I just want some peace'? Especially if you learned those 'operations' on women (as young as four years old) can and do kill them? Or ruin many internal organs? Especially if you found that defibulation--the process upon marriage of making an 'entrance'--may take up to six months to achieve? And that women, because so much of their body is removed and rebuilt--notwithstanding the more important reason that they forever experience much pain--do not have sexual satisfaction?

Yes, it's certainly true you can find women who don't know about such 'upsetting' things and maybe can't wait to make you happy. Or you can listen to your 'unpeaceful' friends, who are hurt to know such things (sometimes at the oddest times), who care about women they don't even know, and YES who are angry. Perhaps, you'll come to understand: all over the world women are being maimed right now in so many different and horrible ways. They too want and should have peace, and joy EVEN.

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'one-line haiku sequence: somalia the body the heat'
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