OCTOBER 24, 2018
SEX AND THEN SOME
I literally can’t stop thinking about what it really means to be a woman. Everything around me screams, “Womanhood is changing” or “Women are in charge.” And it’s not just coldest fucking October since i’ve been in NYC, it’s also breast cancer awareness month so here’s my two cents.
Women. Sexual harassment. Gender. Inequality. It’s all I hear these days. Don’t mistake that for a complaint, it’s just a lot. The last few weeks have been a lot. This past year has been a lot and it still is. It’s like being a woman has forever felt like carrying a big fucking sack of rocks on your back—and you never get to put it down. That overwhelming feeling never really goes away.
After intense media coverage with the brave Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and that bullshit they called a “hearing”, like many others around me, I confronted some feelings and situations I’d been holding back/sweeping under the rug. Celebrating its one year anniversary since going viral, the #metoo movement (while necessary and important) was something that broke my heart because I always felt like I couldn’t relate to the victims, not entirely. In my mind I had been “lucky” enough to have never gone through anything like that, until it hit me that I did. Like so many other women, I just chose to bury it and for the first time I fully understood why women can’t find it in them to open up. Sigh. This realization alone is depressing—almost paralysing.
I decided that in order to be a part of driving forward change, that I needed to share my own story(ies) and the minute I started to draft something, I saw the endless outpour of other experiences take over the internet. It’s amazing how much this one recent case in particular brought to the surface. How one moment all those years ago has the power to impact you forever. How we just find a way to live with trauma.
My timeline was flooded with all sorts of emotions: anger, hurt, pain, heartache, the need for even more self-care and every woman I connected with sent nothing but good vibes and love. So instead, I decided to write my thoughts and feelings on how being a woman has been problematic for us as a society in so many ways based on conversations i’ve had with friends these past few weeks, and provide food for thought.
From the minute we’re born, a doctor determines that we are either this or that. Male or female. This immediately puts us in a box of stereotypes that we either spend a lifetime conforming to or working against. As someone told me recently: “It’s insane that our genitals determine who we are as a person.”
That shit hit me really hard because for the first time I understood. I still find myself fascinated by just how much oppression and lack of education can affect someone.
Recently I came across an amazing podcast, “Under the Hood” that cover topics related to all the hoods: womanhood, sisterhood and motherhood and I feel like I’ve learned more about what it means to be a woman in the last month than I have in 28 years. It’s even harder to absorb all of this information when you’re a relatively smart person that has access to so much information yet here I was, questioning why I went on the pill when I was sixteen and why no one thought to stop me, or tried to make me understand the implications of putting this many hormones in my body. I learned that women are not taught to understand their menstrual cycles but instead instilled with what i’m calling: "pregnancy fear". It’s so fucked up and brings me swiftly to my next point.
In school they teach you about the reproductive system. That sex is for procreation and NOT enjoyment. That sex is bad and the worst thing that could ever happen to you is an unplanned pregnancy—yes and no. This to me is the start of a fucked up mentality about sex being wrong and your desire for pleasure implies that something is wrong with you. Nah fam.
School is one thing and cultural upbringing is another. At home we never talked about sex, ever. We didn’t even talk about boys. In the eyes of my dad, the only time he’d want to see me with a dude is on the day of our wedding and while I respect his views, I always made the point that you can’t bring us up in England as if we were still living in India. I think if parents own the conversation surrounding sex and what it means, they can help shape their children's view on what it could mean for them. I remember being sixteen and thinking “Thank yeezus i’m still a virgin”, otherwise i’d be slut shamed. Not just by my peers but also my family. It’s taken me years to learn that sex is so much more than just an act, but about finding a connection with someone else, and even yourself. This kind of shame is something that women carry with them into adulthood, and I feel like it’s a strong reason as to why so many women have never spoken about experiences of sexual harassment. Guilt and shame will do that to you.
Talking about guilt and shame. Have you ever been emotionally manipulated by someone knowing they’re in the wrong but somehow it ends up being your fault? Yea, that. The recent media frenzy surrounding sexual harassment bought forward some issues that I’d never dealt with when encountering situations in places where I was meant to feel “safe.” I realized that it must have been wrong because I never said anything then and I still wouldn’t feel comfortable saying anything now, for fear of being judged and not believed. Society has conditioned us to not speak about these things. Victims are just convinced that it was somehow their fault.
While reliving a particular experience, I started asking my girls if they’ve ever had sex with someone just because it was easier than saying no? Almost 90% of them told me that they did. That it was easier to get it over and done with than to deal with explaining why they didn’t want to. There’s a huge lump in my throat as I write this because it brings about the feeling of powerlessness. I was one of them at some point and more importantly, up until recently I thought it was normal.
While I don’t have the answers as to how we end this once and for all, I am hopeful that the more we talk about it and the more we share, we will start to see ourselves and shift our perspectives. For all those that don’t feel like they have a voice, they need to start believing that they do.
The world is telling us that “Time’s up”—well, it’s time we listened.