Privilege is used to hide abuse… not only the abuses and oppressions of those “without”, but also that of those trapped within the confines of the elite.
I was born into a world of privilege, a family of middle class, to educated parents in a land of “wealth and plenty”. There I learned to pity those “less fortunate”, those living in economic poverty… but had no idea, as I hid and cried, that there were such things as physical, emotional and spiritual poverties as well.
I was in my teens before I recognized that my brilliant, but mentally ill father used social, economic and sexual coercion to control my mom, twenty before I acknowledged his physical domination over my sister and myself, and thirty before I knew the name of the emotional incest he perpetrated on me. I was thirty-five before I saw the conscious emotional abandonment and rejection by my mother, my “protective parent”.
And I am thirty-six today, as I start to distinguish the ways in which these cryptic injuries and the gender socialization that I have received with every other woman I know (i.e. even smart and athletic women are ultimately valued primarily for their desirability to men, a woman’s role is to make others feel comfortable both physically and emotionally, a woman who can love enough can change the behaviors of the poor, wounded men who perpetrate violence on them, etc.), have left me vulnerable to further detriment.
With my family and my culture having habitually intruded on my autonomy, I do not understand safe and healthy boundaries. I have continued to open my borders, not wanting to accept bitterness and blame, wanting to know the gentleness and care that I have not had before, yet I have experienced repeated violation instead.
How many times have men touched me without my consent, dismissed my voice, assumed a relationship that I have not agreed to, held dominion over me?
Twice in which tears streamed down my face and vomit rose in my throat, raped by men I was initially attracted to, but who ignored my self-rule. Seven years with a man twice my size who could control me with simply a hand on my chest, but who smashed windows, kicked with steel-toed boots and dangled me over staircases for added effect. Six years with a man whose words of hatred have left ugly gashes where physical ones never could persist… So many other numbers…
But I am taking new counts now… Twelve years of loving parenting. Ten years guiding other youth. Four years advocating professionally for women. Two years championing feminism. One organization that I am building. A million women linking arms with mine. 600,000 words to bring awareness. 20,000 leagues of compassion...
The rest of my days in which to apply my own privilege to creating a safe and just and joyful world for all women and girls.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.