"pepper spray is the perfume of rape culture" a #metoo essay

Green confetti. Guinness. It was another time. Another country and what now feels like another life. But I remember. The drinking. The flirting.

It’s the kind of person I am, you know? Carrying a tendency to inhale people that I meet- Well, I used to.

It’s the kind of person I was. Now I carry pepper spray.



And the next time, I was in love. But it was the messy kind. The I-don’t-know-if-he-loves-me-back kind of love.Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Label lacking love.

I was drunk.

On both the insecurity and the alcohol.


And they say this; they say had my blood not been dancing alongside the liquor, things wouldn’t have played out that way.

I don’t know if they’re right.

I know he was stronger than me.

And when I pulled away, he reminded me of just that.


Now, I hear the roar. It is crowds of women and men. Crying out, “me too.”

I want to join in their song.

But I don’t feel as though I can. There is a criteria I don’t seem to meet. It wasn’t behind a dumpster in an alley.

It was in rooms that I should have stayed out of, wearing outfits that covered too little skin on nights that I should have stayed in.


See, I wanted nothing more than to escape that room and that night and to be back in that outfit.

But I was paralyzed. I didn’t yell because I didn’t remember how -It’s how I learned that your vocal chords- they can betray you.

No real war over innocence was had.

I handed it over quickly, giving into violation

My vocal chords on vacation- in another world where sticks and stones might break my bones, but boys, they shouldn’t rape you.


When we were little, our parents taught us to be aware. As we grew up, we taught ourselves.

We know all too well how; walk with keys in our hands and phones to our ears.

Pepper spray is the perfume of rape culture.

It is up to us to be careful- it is not up to them to behave.


I don’t know what to call it. I don’t know if it counts.

And I don’t know if it is the toll of time or trauma, but my mind is keeping less and less room for these dark memories.

They’re being replaced with warmer ones

with a beautiful boy who meets every fear of mine with patience and smothers it with love.

So I don't know. It's not as clear anymore.


All i know is this

I never thought i could be raped

When all i ever wanted

All my life

Was to be touched.


But I guess Ignorance told me

I would always have a say.



author, hannah barrett

Hannah is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team

Hi, I’m Hannah! I am a Business Administration and Graphic Communications student, from Dallas, Tx, currently studying in Oneonta, NY. I’m a music enthusiast, an admirer of art, a mountain maniac, a writer, and an outright travel junkie. I believe life should be all about authenticity, love, and creativity. I believe in women complimenting each other at bathroom sinks. And I believe in always working hard in order to play hard. Hemingway said it best: “Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." x

Instagram: @hannah_barrett


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