Learning that you have no voice because of a society that doesn’t hear you, and realizing that your voice has been taken away because of the lack of teaching you had about having ownership of your sexual experiences—are two, equally important but, different things.
From a young age I knew that my experience of black girlhood was one that so many black girls would have a universal connection to. Whether it be the being told I couldn’t play with a group of little white girls because of my skin colour or family friends telling me to stay out of the sun so that I didn’t get too dark. I knew I was different, I knew I had to work harder, I knew I was expected to put up with situations that my white counterparts would not have to put up with and I knew I had to create my own privileges.
To create your own privileges is a scary thought to my almost mid 20-year-old self but my barely starting her period self was fearless. She was a young girl who would jump into the Caribbean Sea without fear of its power to consume her in one gulp. She was a Taekwondo doing, scooter-riding girl with an ignorance to danger that today’s Trump supporter has. She was a girl that did not even know what therapy was.
And then as if like magic there I was in my final year of my master’s degree in Dramatherapy. Almost finishing my compulsory personal therapy hours and my body was urging me to process something I’d pushed to the pits of my soul for last few years. I was sitting face to face with my therapist talking about my inability to really connect with romantic partners when it hit me like a tone of rusted metal bricks.
The sexual experience my mind had forced my body to forget but it didn’t, the same sexual experience that I had had no emotion towards was in fact rape or sexual assault to say the least. It was a hard pill to swallow and I thought my therapist was jumping to conclusions or I had misspoke but neither was the case.
In fact, in the moment of the disclosure I didn’t realize it was what it was. With softness in her voice my therapist told me what it was and there was still a resistance to it. There was my inner voice saying ‘Nah, it was what I said it was’ a right of passage.
A right of passage that so many women put up with because they are fearful of the alternative, a man, their man thinking their no mean’s ‘I no longer love you’. A right of passage that women put up with because of the rhetoric that a man’s sexual pleasure is of more importance than ours. A man being over enthusiastic but that’s okay because boys will be boys, right? Well no.
No, the word that now, to me at least, means I owe it to the young boys and girls I will reach to educate myself about consent, so that if a time comes I can then teach them. To educate myself about the power of ownership to my own body. To educate myself about the importance of having a relationship with my body and understanding that sometimes monsters with scary names come in suits that are pinstriped and aftershave that smells sweet.
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