I remember wearing a dress to a party, the hosts were a heterosexual couple much older than me, when the husband look me in my boobs, his wife was unhappy, I was at a lost, I just arrived, trying to catch my breathe, I didn't know what to do about it.
I wore a long dress with a slight V neckline, being a busty a girl, a little sexy equals a lot sexy and I knew this, so I was always careful, I was alway envious of flat chested women, they can wear many more styles than I can, fashion wise, I always had limited choices.
Another older lady ushered me to the toilet, she asked me to adjust my dress, she didn't say it was his fault, she gave me a haughty look of disapproval instead. I went to the toilet, feeling anxious and uncertain, I already used a safety pin, so I used the same pin to pin it higher, this meant the design was ruined, it was a shapeless sack, it looked awful, my excitement at wearing my new dress dipped along with my mood.
I don't have a photo of me in that dress so I found a random photo off Google, it's not the same print or the same dress, the neckline here is before I pinned it a second time, I made sure there was no cleavage shown at all then.
I was a nun, I must have no sex drive, no breasts and nothing womanly, any reminder of my womanhood is to be covered up, shrouded in shame, guilt, shackled to impossible beauty standards, policed by pimps and handmaidens.
When I went out, he looked disappointed, this was the typical Asian face saving runabout that told him it wasn't OK, his wife nodded in approval, both at his disappointment and my compliance.
Taking her cue, the other lady nodded as well. Shuffling my feet, holding my anxiety in, I was eager to escape, making sure to stay away from him once I did. I kept my composure, when you have CPTSD, you get good at faking a poker face, those times when I was vulnerable, I was preyed on even more, it was too dangerous. I was an expert at keeping my composure, no one knew, never let people see your weakness, some won't hesitate to weaponise it back at you.
Deep inside I knew no one cared as well so it was a pointless to ask for their support, this was a grief I had to address in recent years, how many incidences fed the unlovable fundamentally defective way I felt, it was heck of a lot to unpack.
When Chinese New Year rolled around, I knew the influential couple would be invited to the yearly gathering, I made a conscious choice to wear a festive mandarin collar top, a vintage gem I found in an indie store in Japan, it had the wave motif I like, hidden within a mess of flowers, it's one of a kind and I felt like I found a treasure then.
I was criticised previously for wearing dark colours, not black or white, the two colours symbolic of death in many Asian countries, dark blue with white, etc. still got me criticism. So, to placate the unwashed masses, I decided to save myself some trouble, wear a loud red infused with orange instead, I didn't want to replay that incident, those were safe colours I thought.
It's weird how some colours are safe colours, is it just me or do you ever think so?
I remember thinking before I left my house that I look like a turkey with no neck, no neck is better than getting into trouble, ugly was better than getting in trouble was my rationale, the idea upset me, that I had to be so busy self preserving, a lot of a woman's busyness is preservation, we're prunes in a jar, marinating in the muddy waters of humanity, to break free from the jar we must pay a price, that people inside jars will hate on us as they envy us, people outside the jar will understand and those are far and few in-between.
I suppressed my feelings like all strong nice girls do and soldiered on. Looking back, I was upset the entire time I was there. He didn't look at me anymore, good I thought, his wife started criticising my dressing and I was heart broken.
There's a special heart break at a woman's betrayal, I always saw women as strong and capable, we aren't given the credit we deserve doesn't make our brilliance less real is how I feel.
I don't have a photo of that top either, here is another photo off Goggle.
I don't have a long neck like this model so gooble gooble for me.
When I arrived at the gathering, I was criticised for being a frumpy young woman, I wasn't fashionable enough, I was a boring prude, all buttoned up, I wasn't vicarious and sexy, my hair wasn't flowing like those women in advertisements, the wind seem to naturally disheveled their hair into the perfect position.
Some people looked at me and promptly ignored me, some commented how I let myself go, some were vicious, I was stunned how much my body and my dress sense was their business.
I also gained weight but no one asked me exactly why. It was after many similar incidents like that one that I started emotional eating, it was my unconscious self defence, fat = not fitting beauty standards, fat meant no more unwarranted attention, fat = safety. I had no clarity then, it was recent years that I realised this.
How wrong I was, I still got attention, fat skinny, fit unfit, tall short, size 6 or size 18.
It was another kind of policing, I was still the wrong woman, my body was still wrong and by association I am still wrong.
Arrrrgghhh it's frustrating.
I just wanted to disappear, I just wanted a hole to open up and swallow me, I just wanted people to leave me alone and they are too nosey to do so.
You see this contradiction, I was a vicarious woman who took whatever precaution I was told to take, I was the obedient woman all my life, I was compliant, I did what I was told, I towed the line in my private life, at work and everywhere I go, I was a law abiding upright citizen who wasn't civilly disobedient at all, my volunteerism was also within these lines, I lived life in the safe zone, my worse crime was a speeding ticket, I'm so mellow I just might be boring.
I did the right things, no one ever criticise my character except for a few extremely narcissistic people I can count on one hand, they were all wrong about me, the dysfunction was on their end, not mine, I took back the reins of my life and sorted that out too.
I am still too sexy, I swung to the other side, I was too conservative, I cannot win.
It was my fault I incited his male gaze, for fuck sake I just arrived, I didn't even open my mouth to talk to him, I don't have the habit of flirting, I thought there was something wrong with me, because men kept hitting on me and I had no reaction, later on I found out I was a lesbian, although the cringeworthy reaction never went away.
Even that realisation which was 20 years ago didn't do much for evading men, as a femme it didn't ease, I still got the same kind of crap, so when people tell me being femme = invisible = less bullshit, less discrimination, I want to scream......nnnnooooo it isn't true at all.
His lecherous predatory look made me uncomfortable, I despise him inside, I was often in a panic when I encountered men like him, he is an influential wealthy man, everyone there knew he had authority, no one wanted to speak up or a least pull me into a safe place and tell me to avoid him, assure me it wasn't my fault and he was accountable.
They corrected me because they can't correct him, they disapprove of me because they can't disapprove of him or disapprove of themselves. I would have more empathy for his wife if she looked deflated, she was angry at me instead, I understood why sometimes people tell a woman she can't keep her man, it's because of this kind of behaviour, where they scapegoat an innocent woman because they all can't hold him accountable.
I didn't want her to blame herself, I didn't want her to blame me either and not every woman get it, that we all experience the patriarchy and it wounds all of us, we're comrades in arms, we're not combatants, we're fighting the same war.
This idea was affirmed when a woman posted in an online group about recently finding out her husband cheated, she found him in bed with another woman. She didn't give much details, most women were supportive of her, asking her to consider different angles, some asked her to leave, etc. I then saw several women jump in to fill in the blanks, they said it was the other woman's fault, that it wasn't his fault, they took his side, not any woman's side, not even the OP's side. Good lord, she was asking for empathy for Christ sake, if you can't give it then shut up and move along.
This is what happens, one person open the floodgates and the wolves join in, they enjoy the tribalistic hanging of the innocent to move themselves up the totem pole, they shield the ones responsible for personal rewards, they come from a place of self-centredness, you're left alone to deal with it as people pressure you to be a kind holy better person to assholes like them.
I would see this in many group dynamics, in real life and online, many times over.
This tape replayed throughout my life, men objectifying women and women being their handmaiden pimppets (pimp and sock puppet), there have been times women try to ask me to accompany them for business related entertainment, these lower conscious pimppets wanted to use my looks and body to advance their careers, that disgusted me and I don't even do it for myself, that's the thing, I made my sacrifices to not put myself in those situations, for my safety, sanity and integrity, so I resent it when they ask me to compromise my long held beliefs for their benefit.
I'm not saying it's easy to see people get promoted and have more opportunities, I feel angry and resentful, it sickens me how ethics seem to be last for some. I also think they suffer trauma as well, we cannot run away from our own discomfort, the pain we suffer, some day we all have to confront it.
Even if you're not a prostitute, some people treat you like one, they won't hesitate to push you into situations that make you uncomfortable, I had men and women get angry with me when I say no, those were the first ones I ditched when I drew boundaries a few years ago, fuck them, they add no value, these cowards would never stand up for me, their characters suck balls as well, all they did was drag me down.
That is what happens to a woman, when a man isn't held accountable, when you're left to fend for yourself and told on one hand you're the stereotypical cunning vixen intentionally out to tempt men, on the other you're also the stereotypical unattractive dull boring prude, you can't find a space for yourself between these two contradictions, how to be free, attractive, feel good and make wise decisions
Recently, I post a photo of Jenny Shimizu on my Get The L Out Asia Instagram. A woman told me she forgot her top. I was too agitated to reply. It's exasperating, to never find safe places where people don't stop policing, there're always some who cannot understand they do not have authority over a person's body, that our bodies are sovereign and autonomous, we decide what to do with it.
How is that photo even in the porn or explicit category? I'm still puzzled about it.
I intentionally used a photo where you can see she's a woman with breasts, I wanted to show how women don't need to bind or medically transition to own their bodies as is, they're still attractive and having breasts is nothing to be ashamed of, it is to be celebrated, the female form is divinely made, preciously created and intelligent designed for each life story.
There is this idea that policing a woman's body is a matter of keeping her safe or helping her make wise decisions when it is actually about power dynamics, someone robbing your power by trying to control the narrative of your life. He robbed me by his misogyny, his wife robbed me by not understanding it wasn't my fault, that I respected her as a woman and therefore went to great lengths to adjust myself because of her wellbeing, she didn't change her attitude towards me, she just pit herself against me still, not understanding that it is patriarchal to encourage infighting between women so men rise up and women stay down.
The lady who asked me to pin my dress was trying to protect me but she shamed me in the process, I thought she didn't intentionally do it that time, didn't think too much, we don't get a manual about how to do these things. The problem is she continued to shame me on many occasions as well, because she had her own unhealed wounds to manage, controlling me was her attempting to regain control of her life, so it wasn't my fault as well, she would have to regain her power and that comes from healing like I did.
I totally gave up being policed in 2016, after a sexual assault, I was wearing normal mid thigh jean shorts (not booty shorts) and a T-shirt up to my collar bone, I was in flip flops with no make up, hair in a bun. I spent all my life trying to avoid the male gaze, trying to edit down, keep small, shrink myself, also trying to level up in the beauty department instead, work myself to the bone to be patriarchal pretty, then trying to adjust all the time for other people's comfort, to the point I ruin my own mental health, do you think all these people give a shit and would ever help me?
I can tell you brutally and clearly, a big fat NO.
When that happened, I had a mental breakdown, I took a close look at my life and realised it wasn't how I dressed, it was how men are taught and how women are taught to prop them up, seek their approval at the cost of their womanhoods and at the cost of feminism, feminists and women rights as well.
Make up free, doing yoga, trying to work my way back to myself
I posted this last year to try to own my body back, thankfully I got a lot of support from women so I feel optimistic. This is one of a handful of photos of me with shown cleavage, I was camera shy all my life, it took me a lot to post it and the good response was encouraging, I'm still learning about my body, I'm still trying to show up without fear, most of the time I succeed, sometimes I'm afraid again, I'm still confident, fear has nothing to do with confidence.
The biggest weapon of the patriarchy is boys will be boys type of men, learned helpless women who ride the coattails of boys will be boys to elevate themselves and then there's the feminists who're the only ones fighting back.
It is not your fault for feeling lost, uncertain or lousy about your body, we live in a highly toxic world where we're hated for no reason, we're broken down to be compliant, randomly victimised out of the blue, evil is around the corner, some people are manipulative and horrifyingly unsafe, some don't have basic decency and respect for others, we live in an asylum and the only way to survive is to completely stop buying in, completely step out and off the stage.
It is not your fault if you have self loathing or self hatred, it is not your fault, you're conditioned daily to stay down, feel lousy and accept that this is a woman's fate, I say hell to the no, we deserve better!
We do need to work together, to not condone or enable these things to happen, to not shame women when it does, tell her we understand when she's pushed to a corner. That her being victimised isn't her fault, she doesn't have to dress this way or that to stay safe, it's total bullocks, men are capable of controlling themselves, they're not animals, they can do it, they rather not if even the leeway, that is entitlement, it's not they can't, they don't want to.
That is a big difference.
Tell her that it isn't her duty to pander to the male gaze, it isn't her responsibility for someone else's inability to respect others, it isn't her duty to police herself or another woman either, support her choices first then discourse later, she needs your comfort, she needs safety and support more than your judgement.
The patriarchy's my bitch, I yank it's chain and not it yank mine
Check out if your date requires reparenting here.
People pleasing isn't what you think, find it here.
Eshet chayil, God is a She.
Art found here.
Shirt found here.
Dress found here.