I refuse to be like your mother….
Not because she isn’t resilient but because I cannot survive the pain she decorates in lace. She cries alone and your father wears the smell of alcohol like cologne. She puts on her smile like makeup. Her shirt is a mask that covers the bruises. She sometimes breaks down to the ground when she thinks you’re in the shower and cannot hear. She brings you your folded clothes like she’s bringing the parts of her that haven’t been destroyed. She asks you to put it away right away. Just maybe, you have the parts of her that have not died. Your mother like many women deserved a happy ending.
It was in the way her smile caught all eyes. She was fierce without having to try. Her eyelashes were thick and long, her body was smooth and her hair was vibrant and crazy like the moulin rouge. She was more than just a sight, she graced the world with her heart and soul. It was something in her mind, like when you looked into her eyes you knew there was something to find. She was special, alive and the world had to hold on tight.A reckless women was about to ignite.
You want to know what it is like being a women? A women of color at that? We live in constant fear of being raped. We are told our bodies distract men. As if men are primates who have no ability to control their sexual desires. We have to maintain a balance of “sex doll” and prude. Because wanting sex is slutty but not having sex is lame. We are a fetish. We are the “spicy Latina” you always wanted to have exotic sex with. We are the “Jungle fever” you are currently experiencing. We cannot tell someone of sexual assault without someone asking us what were we wearing. We are taught to protect ourselves from rape instead of teaching men not to rape. Are our men incapable of treating women as more than sexual objects? Are we taking away from men’s masculinity by teaching them to respect women’s bodies? Is masculinity built on the concept of oppression? No, No and Yes.Society has justified men’s oppression of women. Society has told us that men are better and thus they can treat us accordingly. The problem isn’t the capability of our men, it is society telling women it is their fault instead of instilling ideas of equality. I don’t need to wear a longer skirt, I need to be surrounded by men who won’t see my skirt as an invitation.
I hated the world for messing me up. For taking parts of me that I had not even discovered. It was the loss of innocence and the arrival of fear. I felt used like I was just a cloth meant to wipe away impurities. I felt lost in the places I found comfort. I died every night in the shadows of my dreams. Wishing that it had never happened to me. Crying angry words to god and asking why he didn’t protect me. I wondered why me? Why did their touch take advantage of me? Why did they leave me with years of uncertainty?
They do not know what they did to me. They sleep at night peacefully everyday while I reminded myself I was okay. I spent so many days with hate. At one point I realized it was time to alleviate. My soul was ready to love even the most mysterious of black holes. I could no longer fear the unknown because what I did know saved me. I was someone’s black sea an eternal beauty, I was discerning, I was passion swimming with ideas, I was me. I am alive; everyday I see the sun rise I feel it resonate with everything I create.
Life is hard. Being a woman is hard. Being a women of color is harder. Our opportunities are stagnant and we are constantly depicted as sex objects. Everywhere I go I am consumed with images of overly sexualized women. We judge ourselves and believe that our value lies in our looks. There is a reason why cosmetic surgeries are more common among women then men. Women are constantly told that they aren’t “enough” and in order to conform to society’s beauty standards they go under the knife. Men are so quick to judge women for being fake, and yet they are the ones admiring the hyper sexual females with the pseudo bodies. The more we dehumanize women the more the men are inclined to abuse women sexually and physically. Many would argue “well it is her choice to be perceived that way, right?” Wrong. As Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture said sexualized culture not only objectifies women, it encourages women to objectify themselves. We are in an era in which we believe we are equal because we aren’t the 50’s housewives anymore. However, we put our self worth in our looks and not in our minds because intelligence doesn’t bring gratification. Praise for our looks gives us gratification. There is nothing “sexy” about women being portrayed as inanimate sex toys.
We’re given barbies to show us beauty, we’re given baby dolls to teach us how to be mothers, we’re given easy bake ovens to teach us how to cook and then we blow out our candles; at 6 we are given everything we need to know in life. At that age we aren’t aware what these “toys” mean. We aren’t sure why “pink” is our favorite color nor do we question why “boys will be boys” is a reason to excuse a boy’s bad behavior. Ladies and Gentlemen this is when we learn our gender roles. This is when they internalize in our head what our “womanly” roles are. Indeed, we are maternal creatures but who is to say men aren’t? We, the women as the ones who bear the children are the ones who have to decide between a career and family. We, the women are the ones who feel the biological clock ticking. We, the women are the ones that are viewed as outsiders if we aren’t married by 30. We, the women are the ones who are considered twice for a job because we might be too busy raising a family. We, the women are the ones trying to reach impossible beauty standards through procedure after procedure. We, the women are the ones that are taught to believe that in order to be a “women” we have to be “sexy”, to be good mothers we have to quit our jobs and to be good wives we have to know how to cook.Only then, we are women and we’ve been training for this inadvertently.
Being a woman of color we aren’t just women but we have to identify our race along with sex. We aren’t the prototype of what a women is, we aren’t what pops up when you “Google” pretty, we are women indeed but we are women of color. White women don’t need to identify the fact they’re white women they have the privilege of being solely “women.” They don’t constantly think about race or have to prove themselves to be attractive, intelligent because white is synonymous with positive attributes. On the other hand being a person of color you know that your skin color carries a history of oppression. You are aware of the fact that being “white” is what is normal and normal is good. At a very early age you learned that being “dark” was bad. We dye our hair, straighten our hair, and avoid the sun in hopes of being the prototype of women.