I'm sure you have seen the trending Me Toos on Facebook by now. If you haven't, the stories of sexual assault or sexual harassment straight from the mouths of women are devastating. I'm one of the Me Toos as well. This gets much much worse. This is a compilation of stories I had the privilege to hear and how sexism have long reaching consequences such as body image issues, eating disorders, abuse, rape culture, the list goes on and on and on.
When Canadian writer Kelly Oxford tweeted about her sexual assault story in response to Trump's "grab the pussy" last year, she was received replies at the rate of 50 per minute for 14 hours. “Anyone denying rape culture,” she wrote, “look at my timeline now.” Within hours of Oxford's tweets, #NotOkay had become a trending topic on Twitter and the author's request for women to tweet their assault stories had gone viral. Oxford said she had 9.7 million Twitter interactions, with many women saying they had more than one story to share.
I looked at her timeline then and was horrified, I was one of many. Similar to the Me Toos trending on Facebook as I write, this problem isn't going to go away until WE participate actively to make it go away. By WE I mean both men AND women.
Just today, I was wondering whether I truly own my body now. It seems a strange question to ask, it's also a question that many women ask themselves every day in different ways. Do I look fat? Does this dress look nice? Would wearing this get me unwanted attention? Do I need more make up? I wish I was taller, slimmer, my face was my beautiful. I hate my body. I wish my breasts were bigger. The list goes on and on and on.
You see, my body grew way faster than my emotional age. So I always felt uncomfortable with it. I was busty beyond my years and attracted attention way before the thought of dating ever crossed my mind. I was 12 when I spoke to an 18 year old man in the pool lane beside me. I was in a racerback full bodied swimsuit, no cleavage shown. He started the conversation and when he heard I was 12, it startled him for a minute. He kept staring at me, up and down, up and down, like a human scanner, the creepy lustful kind. Even writing this now, it makes my skin crawl.
I felt so uncomfortable, I left. Not for one moment was it exciting nor was I turned on. NOT FOR ONE MOMENT.
When I came out of the female locker room, there he was, waiting outside. This struck fear in my heart, I TOLD HIM I WAS 12. I was with a female relative then so he couldn't approach me. This relative looked at him and looked back at ME in rage, her assumption was that I incited this predatory behaviour, I somehow led him on. At that moment, I felt guilty overwhelm me, did I do something wrong?
She never did address this fully but her message was loud and clear.
MY BODY WASN'T MINE TO OWN. It will always be my fault for being too sexy, too pretty, too this, too that, too everything and at the same time I was nothing. No explanation required, it will always be my fault. The rage will always be turned to me, MEN GET AWAY WITH EVERYTHING.
I was 13 when I started taking the bus home. My school uniform could not hide my developing breasts and soon I had men who shoved their crotches into my face. Their standing selves was just the right height compared to my sitting self. It would always be followed by an expression of insidious glee, they got away with something. The bus was never crowded enough to govern such close proximity and I moved my head away each time it happened.
I did a lot of moving my head away.
Again, I felt I had no choice in this but to tolerate it. It was normal, MY BODY WAS NOT MINE TO OWN. Men own their own bodies and can do anything with it. Me? No.
Then there was the men who sat beside me and looked at my legs lustfully, legs that ended in school shoes FYI, legs that end in school shoes. All this sudden attention confused my nerdy self. What was happening?
I started wearing baggy pinafores with loose belts that obscured my breasts and ended down to below my knees. I was a determined blue human tube, from the front and from the side, no curves whatsoever. I also favoured grungy shoes full of holes. The dirtier the better.
I also stopped swimming.
It's only looking back that I understood my behaviour. This lessen the attention I got, I felt SAFER. It still happened but less. This was the only thing I could do, diminish myself, keep myself hidden, as small as possible. Not once did it cross my mind that maybe men can learn to be more respectful.
I took out my frustration on food, I ate McDonald's every chance I got, it was pretty often since it opened right beside the school bus stop. As I gained weight, the men stopped looking. Being the fat girl was better than the unwanted attention I was getting. Hiding behind my enlarged body, I felt safer.
When I experienced depression also during that time, I lost weight rapidly, the only comment I got from my female relatives was that I looked better. I was on the verge of suicide and still the only thing they cared about was my body. Again I got the same message, less was good, small was good, the smaller the better, the less space I took, the better. Everywhere I looked, MY BODY WASN'T MINE TO OWN.
Then as an adult, it still happened. Now worse. That male doctor who asked me to lift up my shirt to listen to my heartbeat. Another male doctor who groped my breasts. The many times my ass was groped at Mustafa and I couldn't find the perpetrator because it was too crowded. I loved Mustafa for the variety, now the thought of going makes me sick, but still every time someone mentioned it, I forced excitement in my voice. The truth was too jarring for me and definitely for others. A shroud of secrecy is expected and reinforced fiercely.
Also, the daily lustful eyes of men who noticed my breasts first, not me. The eyes that followed my breasts as I walked by, heads turning from left to right. The guy who slapped my butt in a club and as I was recovering from the shock, he yelled cheekily, " sorry, it was too tempting." As I decided what to do, my female friend said, it's flattering isn't it?
Huh? Yes, I replied. Forcing a smile on my face. All I felt was uncomfortable, not an iota of flattery at all. MY BODY WASN'T MINE TO OWN.
The male relative who told me I was TOO tall during a Chinese New Year gathering, yes 6 inch heels on my 1.7 m body meant I was taller than him. A female relative quickly told me to sit down. I was pissed, fuming mad at his ignorance.
Yet, I said nothing.
The message they both gave me was that now I was not to be too tall, THAT too incited unwanted attention from men. So I must fold myself side to side and top to bottom, to be small. Like an origami person, keep folding and unfolding as men see fit. The rule of thumb is always small, the smaller the better.
Each time it happened, I kept quiet. I felt an overwhelming amount of confusion and a tsunami of guilt. I kept small like I was conditioned to do. I kept so small, at times I disappeared. No voice, no body, no nothing. Like I almost disappeared in my teens, literally, to suicide.
Ironically enough, when I gained weight as one of the side effects of Bipolar medication in my late 20s, I felt safe again. When my mental health was the first thing on my mind, looking or wondering if I was attractive wasn't my priority, it was a luxury I could ill afford. I was struggling, if it worked, the trade-off was well worth it. To me anyway. ONLY to me.
EVERYONE ELSE had a much bigger problem with it though. Men and women alike, men and women who I never did shame for their bodies, not for one day. People who were shorter than I am, people who were always fatter than I was, people who were always less muscular than I was, people who didn't have nicer facial features than I did. People who had lower IQ, EQ and all the in-between. I was the target of massive projections, from everyone. I was the "lazy self-indulgent girl" who couldn't get it together. They were somehow the people who got it together when most of them never did accomplished half of what I did, then or now.
Even then, I held it together, I never did projected back at them even once. I already lost my right to my own body, I also lost my voice then, any remaining voice that is. I was the NICE GIRL. Always them first, never me.
BECAUSE I was crazy, I was now a lesser being, a diagnosis, a non-entity. Guess who's crazy? THE WORLD is crazy. I'm the only sane one who got the larger picture, that we're not designed to be torn down and diminished. That projection is lack of self control and damaging. I was the brave soul who swallowed the red pill early on and THEY were still on the blue pill.
So I stopped talking to them and squelched my inner and outer voice, it was simply too exhausting.
I actually never really cared much about how I looked or how my body affected others, I knew I was taller than the average Asian girl, bustier and curvier too. I stood out, not in the way I wanted. I just wanted people to leave me alone, just to let me be.
I just wanted to be me. LET ME BE.
I rather be known for my talent and intelligence, then and now. It hit me, that everyone was WAY more interested in my body than I was. WHAT???? How strange is it?
Until I spoke to my lesbian friend who I thought was beautiful from day one. She was and still is a social worker with a heart of gold. I told her I saw her aura, it was white and she was beautiful. Why does she hate her body? She told me being overweight was a defence mechanism, by being "unattractive", her word not mine, she would fend off unwanted attention.
I was also like this, my lesbian friends would tell me I'm beautiful and I never truly felt like it deep inside. Similarly, I told other female friends they were beautiful and they too didn't really feel like it either. I remember telling my then partner during an especially confident moment that I felt like a supermodel inside, she looked at me in resignation, good for you she said. I sense then that this sounded too aspirational for her and it was too far-fetched a dream. Who was she to own her own body? She's thinking. In her mind, she was short, fat and ugly.
Not in mine.
It was about 3 years ago, I finally started owning my own body. At 34, I was headed home.
It took me many years to link it all together, it was last year (2016) when I was in RAGE. I'm talking about Carrie blood on the walls rage, Firestarter burn the forest down rage. A rage that shocked me more than anyone else, it was 23 years of diminished self rage. A rage so large, I felt it would burn anyone it came in contact with, a rage I knew not many understood or cared to understand, so I isolated myself. Until now, no one really knows what happened because I used that rage to burn up my old self up, I tore down all old paradigms, all social conditioning, all the lies people told me to limit me, all the walls I erected within to squelch my inner voice, a voice too loud, too lioness, a voice I lost to others by not standing up for myself, by being THE NICE GIRL.
You know what's worse than a woman scorned? A woman who had nothing to lose, a woman who hit rock bottom so hard, I bounced on the tarmac in a flash of fire, the only way was UP. Now I'm someone far better, I AM THE AUTHENTIC WOMAN. Not everyone likes me, I sure like myself far more though.
It certainly didn't come easily, I was depressed, experiencing daily anxiety, panic attacks for the first time, uncontrollable crying. All from combatting 23 years of PTSD from abuse, plus I broke my ankle severely enough to have 2 surgeries, rendering me immobile, relying on a walker, taking a total of 6 months to recover fully. This is also the benefit of an awakening plus the protection of a higher power. Not once was I suicidal, it never crossed my mind.
Then I woke the HELL up, IT WAS NEVER ME and how many women suffered from the same bullshit I was put through. We are actively diminished every day in a patriarchal society, our voices are diminished, our bodies are diminished, SO diminished that we are self-punishing every day, not this enough, not that enough, NEVER EVER ENOUGH. Then we start diminishing each other, nnnnnoooo I wanted to scream, we're buying into the bullshit, NOT us. NOT WOMEN please.
The lines keep shifting, like quicksand, if we do not fight it, we will sink into it. WE MUST COLLECTIVELY FIGHT IT.
I understand now that the projections I encountered were their own frustrations, at how THEY were shoved into little boxes, boxes they felt they couldn't choose, boxes chosen for them way before they were born. That they like me, don't know how POWERFUL they are.
I can fight them, the women who projected at me but I much rather fight FOR them, WITH them. All the beautiful women trapped in the same quicksand just like I was.
Dedicated to R, of the beautiful aura, who at one moment, unlocked a series of truths inside of me. You're beautiful inside and out, don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Love, light and peace,
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