I have been raped twice in my life. I have been held down and forced to give sexual favours. I have been told that I wanted it, when I didn’t. I have had a “No” be forced into a “Yes”. I have had my ass grabbed more times then I can count. I have been forcefully kissed, hugged and touched. I have been sexually harassed by people I know and people I don’t know. I have been yelled at, leered at, grabbed, welcomed with unwanted physical touching, terrified to walk the streets, scared to see groups of men heading my way and I have had to say stop more times than I have consented in my life.
I am just like you. I am just like most women.
I am part of the statistic that states one in three women are assaulted by the age of 16. I am part of the group of one in five women who has experienced sexual assault as an adult. I am part of the 91 percent of women who did not report the sexual violence against them. I am of the 24 percent of women who have experienced high-end sexual violence in their life time.
We are taught that it is our fault. We are taught that because of what we wear, how we smile, how we carry ourselves, it is to be expected that we will be sexually assaulted. We learn to accept that it was our own fault. We accept that’s just the way things are. And then we slowly learn to love ourselves again, we slowly regain confidence, sexual liberation and pride. And yet, we are shamed for being proud of ourselves, even after we go through all of this, sometimes daily.
But now, after every time a man asserts his toxic masculinity onto me, I am liberated. Although my body has seen things it should never have, I am liberated. For you can knock me down, call me a slut and tell me it was my fault a hundred times but I will keep fighting for the sexual liberation of women. We will continue to take back our bodies. We will continue to take back sex and sexuality from you and we will walk tall together. For this is not about you, this is about us not letting our bodies be ruled by our past and the terrible things that have happened. Because it is not our fault. It is yours.
And before you shame a girl for dressing a certain way, just remember she’s allowed forgiveness in herself 100 times over. She’s allowed to know it’s okay to take pride in her sexuality without expecting the tirade of shame and harassment from women and men alike. You don’t know a woman’s journey, you don’t know what we’ve had to battle to be proud in our skin when we are subjected to media and industries that tell us we are not good enough and must always strive to be better, largely driven by the same patriarchy that oppresses us. We fight every day to be safe, to be okay, to walk taller and be prouder.
Despite what we go through on a daily basis, this is the sexual liberation of us.