Today, I’m going to be writing mainly to the ladies that are reading this; however, I know that this topic can absolutely apply to men just as equally. So, while the writing will be addressing women from the point of view as a woman myself, I think this could be helpful to anyone who reads it, whether it rings true to your own experience or it just gives you insight into what others have experienced, this is an important message.
After enduring an abusive relationship for over two years along with experiencing a lifetime of men treating me as though all I had to offer was my body, I had come to a point where I believed all the messages about my body and worth were true. It seemed, to me, that society believes that as a woman I owe my body to others. That when men want a piece of me, I must give it without question.
This message was pounded into me through the relationship I had throughout my teenage years. Of course, that exact message was never spoken aloud, but the other things that were said, the way he treated me, this was the underlying message.
“I want you because you’re so beautiful.” “How can you blame me when you’re so sexy.” “I’m just so horny. How can you leave me hanging?”
Once I finally built up the courage to end that relationship, the same message seemed to permeate so many of my interactions with men. The looks, the touches, the suggestive comments. All of it continued to be a message of give it up to me; because you’re so beautiful and sexy, you owe it to me; I can’t resist you.
The even sicker, more mentally traumatic part of this message is that it is somehow the woman’s fault for the man being horny. That by being beautiful or sexy, others wanting us is totally on us, our problem. When we are approached with the desire of our body, it is something that we have somehow brought on ourselves.
A simple glance, a smile, a touch of the arm, sometimes just even making eye contact – it’s all our fault for simply being. That just by being a woman with boobs, hips, a vagina, all of the attention and desire is on us. The man takes no ownership in this message.
And, the crazy thing is that I completely believed it. When men would approach me and it became clear that my body is what he expected out of me, I believed that I had no choice but to give it. I had fallen into the message that by just being a woman, I owed my body to any and all that desired it. That’s the thing with abusive relationships and messages that we hear over and over again – they brainwash you to a point where the message becomes part of who you are. You no longer feel you have any other way of responding to these situations. You’ve been taught that this is what’s expected and there’s no other way to view the situation.
I know that these messages, this feeling of others owning your body is not new, and I’m not the only one to have experienced this. I’ve heard the same from so many other women. So many who have come to believe the message they’ve heard so many times. Heck, my male therapist said that he had heard it several times from his female clients when we talked about this. It’s pervasive and we all know how messed up it is. In yet, it’s hard to deny its truth when the message continues.
So, for all the ladies out there, or any men that have been led to believe the same thing, let me share the message that I’ve been trying to learn for so long now:
You do not have to apologize for your beauty.
You do not owe anyone anything for being sexy.
You alone own your body, no one else has access to it without your blatant and total consent.
Because someone is attracted to you does not mean you own them anything.
So, the next time this message is presented to you, the next time you’re approached with the expectation to give up your body, stop for a minute and ask yourself if you want this. Really ask yourself, do YOU really want this. The question does not include anything about whether this individual in front of you wants this (they’ve already made that clear) or what is expected of you. The question is whether you and you alone want to give your body to this person. If there is any part of you that is trying to say no, listen. Stand your ground as the strong woman I know you are, look this person in the eyes, and say no. Then, turn around and walk away. Notice how it feels to stand your ground and speak truth to what you wanted rather than what others expected of you. Pay attention to that feeling, because it’ll be the fuel for you to keep saying no again and again until it becomes easy and a source of power.
While this problem is not our fault, we can take strong, empowered steps to reverse it. We can deny that others own claim to our bodies and demand the autonomy and choice we deserve.
With love and healing light,