The Burden Of Femininity: An Observation of Rape Culture Part 1

All families are widely different, but one thing most baby children hear, is how beautiful they are or will be. Though I believe we are all created beautiful in God’s image, this passage is going to dissect the beauty standards set for women and the lack of security women have when their beauty causes unwanted attention. Feminists, organizations, students, and social clubs have spoken out against sexual abuse for hundreds of years. Public stunts continue to erupt around rape, sexual assault, and misogyny, the value placed on female beauty and innate attraction to male counterparts is rarely discussed as a psychological factor. It seems obvious, men are attracted to women, but at what point does it go from attraction to obsession and that obsession leads to disrespect and harm. As mature humans we should be able to understand that the mentality of physical and sexual abuse start from their understanding of women, sex, and power. It is not plausible to insist the time of night, location, wardrobe or career profession as to how unconsented sex and abuse happens. According to Al Jazeera, over 34,000 cases of rape was reported across India, stating that 95.5% of victims knew their abusers (2016). India is a country where women pride themselves on modesty and also one of the highest populated countries of Islamic faith. While in the U.S. the conversation always resorts to a woman’s choice of fashion, lack of faith, language, and kindness which may allure her sexual intentions with people she encounters. Yet, in a country where most women are covered in garb from head to toe, that theory is not valid. My country is very fearful of change and hasn’t put in much effort to acknowledge the social programming that colonial powers set in place, is simply not realistic for a positive human experience. Through this series, I wish to bridge those gaps of male ego theory, female body exploitation, the law of attraction, and healthy communication. This is a heavy topic and it may cause some people to feel triggered. The goal is to move closer towards understanding, healing, and compassion.
The burden of feminity begins for most women before she hits puberty, before her feminine breasts and hips start to develop. For some women, our burden began when men were present during our moments of nakedness or expression as little girls. Psychologically, every individual passes down cultural or family traditions to their children, out of instinct and comfortability. Gender roles are placed upon children very early by the clothes they are dressed in, toys they are allowed to play with, and even the way they wear their hair. Typically, men and boys can have their shirts off, it doesn’t offend anyone, but women have three areas that are taught to keep sacred. The breasts, vagina, and derriere are a woman’s treasures and we’re taught early that it is so valuable that we must almost be ashamed if it is seen by others. Even the sight of a woman’s body causes speculation of her intentions, sexuality, desire, and expression whether she is developed or not. Seeing fathers yell at two year old daughters because they are walking with their mother’s heels, or punishing a small girl for walking around the house naked while relatives are present causes young girls to grow into young women who are ashamed of their bodily expressions. On a camping trip in Northern California I took with a friend, a baby girl was called a stripper by her uncle for wearing a two piece bathing suit. In the midst of the situation, I honestly couldn’t react because I thought it was absurd, not to mention I was the only Black person on a campsite with so-called liberal white Americans. The child was almost three years old and covered with a life jacket while her parents took her to the lake to swim. The uncle later mentioned it to the mother and she stood up for her family by saying that her child shouldn’t be policed on a two piece bathing suit. The uncle went on further to even call the baby a whore and the mother immediately separated herself from the campsite. It’s moments like this where the internalization of female body expression is ridiculed and demonized because of the discomfort of the male gaze and lack of sexual control. 

As a mother, I’m sure it’s hard to raise a daughter that you want to feel safe but also instilling a strong sense of reality for her coming of age years. The body of a woman has been idolized, fetishized, copied, and glorified since the early recordings of Ancient Egyptian Goddesses and Queens. Statues that emphasize a woman’s curves or luxurious, long hair or paintings that add glow to her breasts and roundness to her bottom, it is evident that men are well aware of the attractive beauty that women exude naturally. That is the issue I believe needs to be discussed, the natural beauty that women have and the innate reaction that most men feel while in her presence or in his thoughts. Men are not typically taught how to handle those feelings, I don’t find it common for men to understand how to analyze those moments they see a woman and they feel a sexual desire. It is humanly possible for anyone to be attracted to someone without making them feel uncomfortable, powerless, or afraid. There are stories about inappropriate relationships with coworkers, academic professionals, babysitters, family members, and strangers in public areas that lead up to these scenarios of rape, sexual abuse, or unconsented sex. All of these instances only occur when someone decides that their sexual desire is more important than someone else’s choice of sexual action.

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