TRIGGER WARNING – CHILDHOOD ABUSE
I’ve been holding in so much ANGER, of late, around the way women are treated by men. What has made my anger boil over is how I see women treat other women. This anger ultimately resulted in a lot of self reflection, on my part, revisiting the past to understand myself and the reasons for my feelings better and this resulted in this blog. I spewed so many feelings onto this page and kept veering off into other topics and had to keep coming back and editing. It still is a bit of a mish mash of various issues – but this is the gist of how I feel and it is what it is.
From the age of 3, until the age of 8 (which is when I told my parents), I was abused by a trusted male. Despite having supportive, loving parents who ensured I received treatment and therapy for years after – my life, my outlook, my BRAIN was changed forever. Research suggests that surviving adults of childhood abuse have a higher risk of substance abuse, anxiety, depression and impulse control – due to actual physical changes in the brain development(verywellmind.com) So it makes sense the choices I made in the future and the situations I put myself in – all come back to the trauma I experienced as a child.
From such a young age I was taught that I was purely a sexual object. I was exposed to things that no child should be exposed to and thus viewed myself in a very different way to most children. As I grew up I was hyper sensitive to women around me and what men would say about them. I took it all in – every wolf whistle, every comment about a womans body, every rating out of ten she was given, every disgusting comment uttered about what the “man” would like to do to this woman. I heard it all around me and I even started getting wolf whistles at around 11 or 12 years of age – from VERY GROWN MEN. The boys at school had gorgeous busty women on their school diaries and stuck all over their bedroom walls – this told me that this is what was desired. I was mocked for my ‘curveless’ body, teased for my lack of breasts and this constantly reinforced the feeling ,that I was not good enough ,unless I was sexually useful or appealing to a man. I was told by a few guys at school that they “liked” me – but that they knew they wouldn’t ‘get anywhere’ (obviously sexual!!) with me so didn’t want to date me. Again – you’re no good to me unless you’re providing sexual benefit. Women in Tv, magazines, billboards – everywhere I looked there were sexy curvaceous women who , in my eyes, mattered because they met societies “ideal”. I began a relationship in highschool at age 14 and seeked this persons approval so much. I needed to be desired – I mean it was my role right? That’s all i’d ever been exposed to as a girl. The first time this person hit me I was only 15 – but I am leaving that story for another blog, as it deserves full attention, – but it is relevant as it added to my feelings of being worthless and useless and I continued to value myself based on my looks and ‘desirability’ to men, for years to come.
When I had my daughters I was adamant that I would raise them with different views – I protected them fiercly from potential predators and ensured that they believed in themselves as strong, kind, smart, beautiful women who didn’t need a man to complete their life and to treasure their virginity and sexuality with everything they had. To not seek attention from boys in order to feel good, to dress for themselves and not for a man, to stay strong and believe in themselves and their WORTH which had nothing to do with how their body looked, or what they did sexually.
They were still exposed to the boys at school teasing their bodies, the boys at school talking about other girls in a derogatory fashion. They were still wolf whistled at from a young age, approached by men, gawked at, honked at, had sexually explicit things said to them, touched without their permission in public places and still privy to the horrible things that happen to women in this world. But they are strong! Their beautiful brains were able to develop in childhood and their impulse control was much stronger than their Mummas was.
Just recently, one of my daughters, had her body commented on , by an older male who should know a lot better. She was told, and I quote “this is not what men like. Men don’t like this kind of body, you need to put some weight on. Men like girls with curves”. Ummmmmm what?! Excuse me?! Her response I was so proud of, she shrugged her shoulders, lifted her chin proudly and said “Oh well! I don’t care what men like!” and walked off. We had a big talk about what had happened and I reminded her of the words I have shouted from the roof tops ever since Pink released her song “U+ur hand” –
I’M NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT!!!
We are NOT here solely to entertain men – how we look, what we wear, how much, or how little, make up we wear the colour of hair, the length of our hair (or hemlines) are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!! We live in a culture where women are expected to look a certain way, dress a certain way and to maintain a certain “appeal” whilst pregnant and then to “bounce back” from having a baby, go to work, look good, maintain the house – in other words DO IT ALL and look good doing it……..then provide porn worthy sex at the end of the day! And if we don’t? We hear “if he doesn’t get it at home – he will get it somewhere else”, “Oooohhhh mate, six weeks without sex….wanna come to the strippers?” – and again it is reinforced that unless we are sexually available to men we are not worthy. Our own husbands, or friends of our husbands are the ones saying this!
So how do we change this? Well you’d think it would be with women. That women would band together and support one another and make a stand… but whats happening? Welll….. not that! Social media means this view society has of the “ideal woman” is being thrown at us everywhere, every day and it’s not just men degrading women….its other women too! Thanks to social media our female counterparts are becoming keyboard warriors and bullies wth increasingly damaging and insulting shaming comments being made. These are a small example of some of the comments I have heard, or seen online.
Oh my god! So skinny! Yuck! Men want a woman with more meat!”
“No curves! Too skinny! She looks anorexic!”
“Omg look at the size of her butt. Who would want an ass that big? Does she actually think that looks good?!”
“Ha ha she has no boobs. Real women have curves”
“All these fake plastic women with boob jobs. So gross – just love yourself for who you are.”
“Marilyn Monroe – now that’s a REAL woman!”
“She is so fat. She looks disgustinging”
“Put it away!’
This is just a very small sample – I have seen every body type under the sun scrutinised and insulted by fellow WOMEN and it has got to STOP!
The change we all want so much….. IT STARTS WITH US! Forget men, for the moment, how we talk to each other has to change and it has to change now! Whatever our reason for commenting on another womens body in a negative light, whether it be our own lack of self esteem, our sheep mentality, or just an actual case of bitchness – STOP! Walk by, Scroll past and if you feel the need to say something – say it in your own head and then reprimand YOURSELF and change your thought patterns.
Think of what we are teaching our daughters and not just our daughters……. our sons! We place so much emphasis on how men raise their boys and to be careful how they talk about and treat women but what about us?! As women, as mothers we can LEAD THE CHANGE – we can teach our sons it’s not okay to talk about womens bodies in a derogatory or sexual manner, we can monitor what they watch and we can lead by example by not insulting women ourselves! How are we supposed to teach our daughters to not put up with bullying or body shaming, if the women around them are doing just that?! How are we supposed to teach our Sons TO NOT body shame women, or talk of them in a purely physical sense, if the women around them are doing just that?
I could honeslty talk forever on this topic, as I am so passionate about it – but I will leave it here with this final thought – there is a popular quote – “Empowered women Empower women” but i gotta say –
“empowered women raise empowered men and empowered men empower women too!”