On Feeling Degraded

“You’re too skinny.”
“This is happening because you have been sleeping with other dudes.”
        “This is happening because you haven’t been sleeping with other dudes.”
“You’re hot.”
“You’re sexy.”
“I want your body.”
        “I wish I could have your body.”
“You’re alright.”
         “You could lose some weight.”
“Maybe I would have sex with you…if I didn’t have to see your face.”

These are all things that I have heard in the past year, 90% of which were said by men, some of them have been said multiple times by multiple people.

These are all things that were said by people I have close relationships with – coworkers, sexual partners, and friends. These are all things that have made me feel degraded and undervalued. These are all things that have made me feel like I am merely a body void of all wit and intelligence. These are all things that leave a hole in my stomach, a heavy pit of shame.

Some of these statements were said with the intent of flattery. Some, obviously, were not. What I am getting at is, these are words that have haunted me and some of these words continue to haunt me. I have a face, sure, and it is pleasing to some and not pleasing to others. I have a body, it is full of ridges and curves, it has grown larger and smaller over the years, but it is just a body. Above all, I have a brain that is cased within my head.

I have a brain that holds dreams, desires, worries, words, nightmares, skills and a multitude of random memories. If someone wanted to deeply insult me or truly flatter me, why not mention the most important aspect of any human being–a mind?

I can only speak from my own viewpoint as a twenty-one year old woman. Opinions are inevitable, but the least empowering feeling of all is others gaining power off of your perceived weaknesses. I lose weight, therefore, comments must be made. I gain weight, another comment arises.

I refuse to reveal how many sexual partners I’ve had and face criticism constructed upon assumptions. I confine in another how many people I have had sex with and am degraded all the same. I laugh at a joke, then it is assumed that I volunteer myself to become the butt of any joke. I stay silent, I am a joke anyways. I can’t help but wonder, do any of these people know the power of their words?

“I want your body” isn’t a compliment when I am attempting to give you my mind. “You’re sexy” turns into an insult when I am attempting to show you the person behind my sexuality.

Is our society so obsessed with physicality that we are beginning to ignore the blatant beauty that lies in raw intellect?

Any action made results in judgment, some of which, we all will inevitably have to hear. As I struggle with how to remain empowered while living in a world that reaps power from my downfalls, I have no solution– I only aim to stimulate discussion. Exhausted from the weight of other’s perceptions, I refuse to give anymore.

There will always be people working to reap gratification off of others, however, to stay empowered by one’s own personal strength is the hardest challenge of all. My body will remain mine, despite the ownership others attempt to claim. My sexual activity is my choice, my business. And my brain? I stay grateful for my skull, keeping it safe from the greedy hands that remain outreached.

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