I was raised in a strict Muslim, Asian household.
From a young age I was told to cover my body.
I was a fast developer, and hit puberty very early.
When I was 9 years old I already had breasts, and was told to cover my chest when male family members would visit. I was even told to cover my breasts in front of my dad.
As a 9 year old little girl I learned I had to cover my body up to prevent shaming myself in front of men.
I was told I couldn’t hug my dad, my uncles or even my granddad because I was a woman now, and that would be inappropriate.
As a small child, my body was sexualised, and I was forced to believe I was a woman just because I now had breasts.
Because I now had breasts, I could no longer sit on my dad’s lap or go out to greet my uncles without wrapping a scarf around myself. My childhood came to an end just because my body was developing.
I am now a 23 year old young woman, and I still feel ashamed when I show my breasts or reveal my body. Because that’s what I was taught to believe.
As women, our bodies are so overly sexualised.
Our body is demanded to be seen in the media, in art or pornography. Our bodies are admired and sexualised for men’s pleasure.
But when we freely show off our bodies, and embrace our sexuality for ourselves? We are shamed and punished. We’re labelled a slut.
It’s so confusing. It’s as if our bodies are allowed to be celebrated by, and belong to, everyone but us.
I can’t walk down the street in a pair of shorts or a mini dress without being cat-called.
Every time I choose what I’m going to wear in the morning, I prepare myself for the fact that what I wear today is going to either increase or decrease my chances of being harassed.
Surely men don’t believe women are going to hand their phone numbers out because Dave shouted “get your tits out” from his van?
No. The truth of the matter is it’s not about trying to pull us. It’s about making us uncomfortable.
When we show off our bodies, society has deemed it acceptable for us to be harassed. That short dress gives every single man a free pass to say or do whatever they want to us.
Because we’re asking for it, right?
Suddenly we’re responsible for whatever happens to us. Apparently showing skin is an open invite for men to say and do whatever they please to us.
Our bodies are sexualised from the moment we hit puberty. Our bodies are used and objectified in so many ways. But when we finally learn to embrace our bodies and show the world that we are comfortable in them and our sexuality, we become targets.
But our bodies do not exist for men’s pleasure. We own our bodies, and we have ever right to dress and undress them however we like, without feeling shamed. We have the power to embrace our body and our femininity.
The patriarchy can go fuck itself.