sexism

5 Things From One Survivor To Others

Fam, to those of you out there who are survivors I am speaking only to you. As a survivor of rape and years of sexual assault in my home, I negotiate daily as well as in all of my relationships the effect these experiences have had on my body. I have had to negotiate my desire, expressing desire, receiving both wanted and unwanted desire. I have worried if these things have made me dirty, or unlovable. I have worked hard to be a 'good girl' with few sexual partners with hopes that somehow neutralizes the violation of my body. 

And as I connect with more folks who want to decolonize, and deconstruct shame and liberate us, I have learned new and important things that have been integral to my healing that I thought I might share:

1. It's okay if you want to be sexy. Sometimes the people who abused us might have said that we 'made them do it'. It isn't true, there are many different ways to respond to something that is sexy. I am sure you have many different ones. Your sexy is not the problem. The problem is that capitalism and sexism commodify our bodies and people are taught to derive power from desecrating us. 

2. It is ok if you enjoy 'rape fantasies', power play, S & M. It is okay if you enjoy even re-enacting your experience. You may find it feels liberating to have control over a situation that you didn't have control over. It might feel like going back in time and getting to have a 'do-over'. If you don't like or enjoy this or this feel scary, that is okay too. You deserve the sex that makes you feel affirmed. There is violence, and pain in sex that can be healthy if you consent to it. Violence isn't the problem, consent is. You are not dirty or bad if you like violence in your sex.

3. Racism, Ablesim, Transphobia, Classism - Some/all/other/none of these things may have been a part of your experience and your healing. There is a hierarchy that is applied in 'victimhood' (you may not identify with this term, that is okay too). Male or masculine of centre folks' experience can be met with disbelief, sex workers, Folks of Colour. These things can also affect the kind of help, support and responses you get from other people. Trust your gut and trust your struggle, if something someone says feels icky, go with it and remove yourself from that space physically, mentally, emotionally - disassociate if you have to. Disassociation can be a powerful tool that you have to take care of yourself.

4. This is real. It effects you, it doesn't define you, but it means things and it evokes feelings, strategies and responses which are all your bodies way of taking care of itself. That is really great. You don't have to force yourselves to watch movies with rape scenes, or cuddle if you don't want to, or hug a new friend or an old friend. It's okay to feel sad and get depressed about it cause it is hard and we often have to carry it by ourselves and never get to talk about it and the whole world just keeps going and expects us to do the same. That is fucked up and we didn't choose that. 

5. You are precious beyond measure.

Our Colonized Tongues

Ask someone what gender pronoun they go by, ask someone how they describe themselves and just like with someone's name - when you forget, ask again. Take time, have more conversation than less, write down things that you might need to remember. In any process of education, learning isn't immediate; it takes time and various different approaches to integrate it into our brains.

I want to remind us all that this process of unlearning language and culture that has been and is being used to limit, erase or violate each other and learning new terms that people have forged in direct response to the violence that they have experienced should be joyous. We are learning new ways to affirm and celebrate each other. We are creating more space for individuals to name themselves, we are creating bonds of solidarity, we are resisting a society that tells us our directives must come from 'above', from 'far away' or because that is what 'they' say, when in fact language and culture is created now, here and in our hands.

Who Are You Calling A Slut?!: Speaking At Slutwalk 2012

What is distinct is that we as womyn of colour and First Nations Womyn face the experience of having a negative meaning assigned to being female and to being of colour or of being First Nations (which is different because this is also profoundly related to land).


These experiences are further complicated by ability, class, status (as well as other social locations). Differently abled womyn have an additional layer of dehumanization, which often cloaks their experience of sexual violence at the hands of caregivers and the medical industrial complex. As well ideas like ‘freedom and self-determination’ too are privileges when you are not able to even dress yourself and subject to the decisions of others, as is the experience of some differently abled womyn. Non-status womyn and incarcerated womyn are provided no recourse in cases of violence and are faced with threat of deportation and/or continued violence. And cash poor womyn and girls voices are consistently devalued and silenced and cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of time to heal so are often forced to continue their labour post, as well as during sexual violence and harassment.

 

We must continually recognize that there is privilege and complexity that comes from claiming the word ‘slut’, ‘dressing like a slut’, knowing that for the vast majority of those womyn who are victimized through rape, sexual harassment, sexual violence and state sanctioned violence that this is impossible.

 

And as a cis womyn, with Canadian citizenship, English speaking whose femme ness is expressed in short skirts, tight dresses, glitter and push up bras; and can afford to do so due to relatively stable self- employment and a community of support, I too must recognize my privilege.

Truth

This in part is why I reappropriate words like bitch and cunt. Bitch has been used to dismiss the experiences of violence that we have had, to act like we are entirely unreasonable for being angry when we are being deprived of basic human rights. If you run into me in the streets, I won't have a smile, cause I am protecting myself against racism, misogyny, if I am on a bike, a violent car culture and now, it is also cold.

But when I look across the street and I lock eyes with the adorbs Queer & Trans POC that resist by existing in glitter, bow ties, swagga that won't quit - I remember our resilience. I know we ain't got a choice, but babies you do it with such style, such grace.
Thanks for keeping me whole.

In Praise Of The Vulnerable Femme: The Redux

My breasts sag.

They are small, soft,
Easily laying against my chest
Falling off to the sides
Across them light lines that weavestories like rivers flowing downward to the earth.
I have practiced exactly one thousandpositions, casually cupping them, shrouding them
Your eyes averted, kissing around them
You pretend my breasts don’t sag
I pretend my breasts don’t sag
We pretend our breasts don’t sag,pretend our bellies are flat, pretend our hearts do not hurt.
And I want to saythat there is power in our softness, in our vulnerability. When I see us inmirrors, biting lips and furrowing brows, I want to drop to my knees womyn andtell you that we are perfection. But we stand in this all together, carryingwith us the whispers and shouts of a glossy photoshopped world that tries towill us into non-existence with size 00's and I see you worry that my gazecomes with a judgement but I promise you it doesn't. (And to be clear no shadeto my slender sisters, I simply believe that you/we should all get a realnumber)

Dorothy Allison says “Femme girls dance on razors everyday of our lives, and some days it is only bravado that keeps us upright."And womyn I see you, I see you in your fierceness, your anger and yourinsecurity and I love you in all of it.

 

I love the many expression of femme-ness, love the subtly and directness in oursexuality, love the war paint, love us knee deep in the swamp and wide eyed inmy arms. I love it when you tell me what to do and love it equally when youhave no idea.
I want to shield us from the whole world beautifulbrokengorgeous as we are. Ithink that your round bellies are so sexy, the way you wrap your tightcurls/locks/braids/crown is artful and commanding and when you say something crass/brilliant/provocative/braveI.melt.every.single.time.

And I can't fit it all in here, nor will I try, but I promise to tell you allthat I love you more. Proudly declare it and treat you preciously. In this patriarchal, racist, mind fuckof a world we are both what is desired and defiled, vessels of power and ofshame. A world oftensurprised by our intelligence and dismayed by our independence.

But babes we are oh so hard on the world, can't help but turn heads and dropjaws. Can't help but free minds and steal hearts. We are scientists and sexworkers and when we find each other and find ourselves in each other, I know Iam watching god.

And it is oh so hard to love withoutconditions, to love with the urgency that we deserve, and in defiance of allthat opposes blackgirllove.
For the moments we forget, for themoments we can’t find the joy in our arms curve, the blessings in our fatthighs, the bliss in our sagging breasts.
For those moments,
I want to remind us that we are nevertoo much and always enough.
Explosions of stardust
Bodies of pure worship
Magnificent in our ugly
Eternal in our darkness