Give Me Back My Body

I just read a blog post about rape culture and how the blame of rape is put on the victim if she was drunk or wearing provocative clothing. Throughout the post, I felt like ownership of my body slipped right from under me. It’s not like I never knew it before, but every time I read a story about this girl or that woman being raped, followed by statements by the others such as “She shouldn’t have been drinking,” “she shouldn’t have been wearing that skirt/shirt/shorts/hairdo/makeup,” I feel objectified and just plain disgusted by the entire world and this shitty fucking society.

Like is mentioned in the above linked post, I sometimes get responses such as “Until you go live in the Middle East, you have no right to speak about rape culture.”

Number one, rape culture exists in every corner, in every cave of this godforsaken world because patriarchy perpetuates it and makes it ok to demonize a rape victim.

Number two, dipshits should know I LIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. So there. We’ve just cleared me of any silencing statements and from any declaration that says I have no right to speak my mind.

In terms of my opinions regarding ownership of my body, I feel like I constantly need to prove myself and stand up for myself in that respect. I’ve mentioned it in countless earlier posts, but my family clearly feel like they have the right to tell me what to do or not do with my body, my style of clothing, my hair, and body art. This for me is a blunt expression of “I own your body and can therefore tell you what to do with it.” If I were to confront my family about it, they would dismiss my claim as an exaggeration and make me feel stupid and guilty by saying something offensive like “Gosh! We can’t even talk to you anymore!”

Just this past month, I’ve been made to suffer endless pleads from my mom to show up at the Passover table wearing something “festive.” She was simply following her usual banter whenever holiday season comes around and dreads the moment I would show up at my grandmother’s house wearing plaid pants and an Arch Enemy t-shirt. Now I won’t have any problem wearing a skirt (except that I do prefer plaid pants and a metal t-shirt), but why do I still need to justify my style and claim my right to individuality and self-expression at 30 years of age?

Under the law, I’ve been considered an adult for the past 12 years. Twelve motherfucking years! Why can’t my mom just accept that I’m an adult, an individual, a mature woman with a unique style and who, despite all of society’s claims to the contrary, owns her body?

I’ve had this conversation (read: fight) with my mom on countless occasions. And on all counts, she made some dismissive statement that ultimately made me feel guilty.

I am in the process of writing a book about my years of psychological therapy and how I learned to free myself from the chains of guilt imposed on me by my parents. And although this therapy took place over four years ago, I feel like I’m back to square one. I know for a fact that my mom would make me feel guilty if I showed up with an outfit she doesn’t consider festive, or with a new piercing or a new tattoo… And she could do it without saying anything. The disappointment on her face would be inflicting all the guilt in the world and reiterating the same “I gave birth to you. I own you,” statement she says without even speaking.

I am so upset right now, I could cry. There is absolutely nothing I can do to make my family understand that I don’t want to be treated as a doll. If I said anything, it would be dismissed as quickly and painfully as a slap to the face.

OK, now I really am crying. My inner child is in pain. This isn’t right. This isn’t right.

It’s not fair that none of my male cousins get this treatment. They own their body from day one, no questions asked, while I’m 30 years old and still have to keep insisting and fighting and kicking and screaming for my body, and still have no claims to it.

I don’t wanna go to my family’s house for the holiday. I don’t want to cave in to my mother’s pleas and take my inner child’s needs for granted once again. And I also don’t want to respond to my inner child’s needs and suffer the guilt inflicted on me by my mother’s expression, yet again.

Enough.

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5 thoughts on “Give Me Back My Body

  1. It sounds ridiculous to me also to hear that the victim provoked the criminal… with clothes, behaviour or whatever.

  2. Dear Riot Girl,

    Don’t go to your family’s house for the holiday. The truth is, you are an autonomous adult, you are no longer dependent on your parents, and therefore, there is no one in the world who can force you to go, except for yourself. You have nothing to prove. Your autonomy is a fact. Period.

    Further, you need not explain yourself. That only opens the door for an argument. You only need to say “thank you for the invitation, but I have other plans.” When asked why, or what other plans, you just say “That does not matter, and I am sorry, but I cannot attend this gathering.” Repeat as necessary. Do not engage in debate. End the conversation. “Mom, I have to go now. I love you. Goodbye.”

    Easier said than done, I know. This is your mother, not some used car salesman. It might be shocking to her, and you should be prepared for some drama, but stand firm – because if this is what it takes to demonstrate your independence to your family, so be it. Practice the dialogue in your head beforehand, if you need to. After a few holiday cycles of this, you may find your family ready to negotiate. Or not. But they will learn that if they want to see you, they will need to recognize and respect who you are.

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