a letter from the girl in your 8th grade sex-ed class

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Editor’s note: This poem is part of our #SpreadTheWord poem of the week series, featuring work by Chicago artists based on Injustice Watch reporting. This poem was inspired by Alan Mills’s commentary, Appeals court condemns humiliating mass strip search of women prisoners. For more poetry in this series, click here.

Bridget Harris

Bridget Harris

I must have missed the day
they explained my genitals
became a weapon.
and that incarceration
came with humiliation
and losing the
8th amendment.
Officer-
who hurt you?
what are you
really searching for
in this strip?
is it the
lost intimacy
you were
never taught
or did you…
just forget?
what good is
education
if it does not
condemn
gender
violence
and
teach
boys
to take
better care
of women?
riot gear looks
an awful lot
like playing dress
up and officer
you were once
a little boy too.
suddenly
the menstrual cycle
is no longer urban legend
but prisoners were once
little girls that you knew.

Bridget Harris is an actress, writer, and creator born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now a Chicago resident, she believes the future of art is collaboration, paying artists equitably, uplifting untold stories, and recognizing the shared humanity of the collective over the individual. She is in her final year of the BFA program at The Theatre School at DePaul University.