Why Am I Saying This?
This realization came to me when I got a text from a male colleague who on more than a couple of occasions shared rather unsettling remarks about me, the women in his life, his general outlook on women and the purpose they serve.
My fear has grown over time and these are the possible reasons that may have shaped it:
- My Father
My father was… he was… I don’t really know him. I just remember how much he scared my mother, elder sister and I. He was physically present in our lives up until the first decade of my life. I had been told several times growing up that before I came into the picture my father was a lot more strict with my elder sister who is less than a decade older than me. He used to whip her for whatever. I witnessed it a few times during her adolescent years and it usually left me terrified and filled with rage because my sister wasn’t a bad kid. He once whipped her for talking on the phone to her friends. It wasn’t a phone bill matter or that she didn’t do her homework or chores. I think he saw how happy she was and didn’t like it. She resented him for so many years. My mother during the time before my arrival was normally out and about running work errands. She couldn’t find a trustworthy baby sitter at the time so my father would take over.
Now without going into to too much detail about the disfunction of my family, I thought my father was a regular “strict” father figure. I came to realize with age and many failed attempts at rehabilitating my family bond that he was not. He displayed a lot of narcissistic qualities. Most of which I guess I ignored for as long as I could at the hopes of having a good enough family unit. He was not a caring husband nor a loving father. I don’t know much about my sister but I recall my sister and I visiting him for the holidays in our home country. On Christmas day we and our cousins wanted to go to the beach. We were young girls. The society we were in demanded people spend time at the beach fully clothed, i.e. from shoulder to just below the knee. Beaches were always safe for family fun plus we were going to return before sunset. When I informed him of our plans he asked me what we are going to do at the beach. I did not understand this at first. I had not seen my father for over five years. He was not present to raise me during my teenage years. He couldn’t make an assumption based on my sister because she was a saint. My mother never complained to him about how I interacted with other teens. So what was it? I was a freaking angel! My father’s first instinct is to assume the worst of the daughter he barely knew. That my sister, cousins (who also had clean reputations at the time) and I were going to the beach to fuck around with some guys. What’s worse is I didn’t know the local language at the time so HOW? What kind of parenting is that?
Well now seeing that he was a promiscuous man, I realized he was projecting his own actions on to me.
2. My Mother
My mother never really liked my father. I saw that growing up. No signs of affection, no bond, no dates or whatever version of alone time. The best they did was share a bed and argue about politics. My mother actually at several points in my childhood told me not to be like my father. “Don’t be short tempered like your father.”, “Don’t be stubborn like your father.” or whatever else I was doing wrong like my father. So maybe that helped in shaping a negative outlook on my father aside from his shortcomings and my sister’s conspicuous dislike for him.
When he left us he left us with no economic shelter even though he was heading back to our home country for employment. My mother strongly advised against this. Yes, my sister was able to be put through college and we stayed in decent neighborhoods but my mother had no job and cut down on so many of her personal and household expenses to ensure we got an education. I appreciate it, I do. With this sudden change in structure my mother was under a lot of pressure I believe. I at the time had just begun puberty and secondary school. We fought a lot. My mum, to this day, has a way of misunderstanding me no matter how much I try. She used to take out her frustrations on me. She’d blame and criticize me over things even she didn’t do well. She once told me she wished she had never given birth to me (ask her today and she will deny it). One time I got tired and sat her down and told her that we should stop all the fighting because we only have each other since dad left and my sister left for college. We managed to muster some peace and even friendship but my mother turned me into a middle-aged best friend. She told me all the financial struggles that we were going through that were caused by my father’s selfish decisions. She would tell me about various male family friends we had who were unfaithful and abusive and that many men were like that.
Later on in my early adulthood she disclosed how she regretted marrying my father after the first three years of marriage as he started to display a lot of undesirable traits. She told me how he cheated. He has practically been cheating for my entire existence.
My mum never told her close friends these problems. I believe its because my mother likes to put on a tough façade. She used to tell me not to cry when something had bothered me. No matter how grave. I hated that. I still do.
3. Bullied By Boys Throughout My Adolescence
Throughout my secondary school years I was labelled ugly and unattractive. I suppose it is partly due to the fact that puberty hadn’t hit. I was the youngest in school. When it did hit, I got pimples. I come from a gene pool of petite slim women so other physical changes were close to zero. Boys never asked me out. For the entire five years not one boy had a crush on me or genuinely approached me. I tried not to let it get to me. I kept reminding myself how I’m three years younger than most, that I don’t want to date while I’m in school and other lies I told myself. Around the fourth year one boy who I liked for some time and perhaps even befriended approached me. He liked me. Told him I liked him back. Then he laughs at me, says it was a joke and flirts with every girl I was friends with for the rest of our time there. Given my sensitive nature and the age, this was extremely humiliating and soul crushing.
Boys sometimes used to laugh and make rude comments at me when I’d walk into a classroom or hall. I remember going to see a friend once and some guy just said loud enough for the whole class to hear, “This girl is ugly.” and the whole class burst out and I was embarrassed broken. When boys would help other girls with their luggage or whatever it is, they usually refused to help me. The boys saw me as a boy.
I started to accept that I am probably the most atrocious thing under the sun. I started to become more masculine in my behavior. I acted tough around guys when they would come to a group of us girls. I had to reject them and scare them before they could hurt me.
4. A So-Called Friend Stole My Virginity
Some time around my college years I tried to drop the act a bit. I also tried to drop the ideas put in my head that men are out to get you because surely they can’t all be that bad, right? I mean, most of the girls I schooled with were dating and getting into and out of relationships so why can’t I join the fun? Big mistake.
I met a guy shortly after finishing secondary school. It was unexpected. He was apparently on a date but his date was supposed to meet up with her friend and introduce us to each other. So I guess we crashed his date but we all kind of had a good time and we exchanged numbers. We kept in touch over the course of two years. It was nothing serious. We met hung out with friends, and would chat on Whatsapp. He flirted at times but I didn’t take him seriously. We were out once and we made out. That same night my friend who was with us got drunk and blacked out. I had to take care of her but couldn’t take her to my home. We were young and all still lived with our parents. He offered his place because his father was not around. We got there and we put her to bed. We made out a couple more times and went to bed. We didn’t do anything else and he did not take advantage of either of us while we were there.
About three months after that incident, he invited me for a gathering at his place. Him and about six other friends. Boys and girls. No alcohol. No party. Literally sit, eat and chill. When I got there he texted me to meet me in his bedroom. I may sound like a complete idiot but I’ve kissed guys before and ended it at that. I got there, we start making out and then he throws me on the bed and plants his whole body on me. I told him not to. I tried to force him off me. I couldn’t scream for help. My voice just died I guess. He forced himself in and I closed my eyes through the entire thing.
I was in denial for some months. I convinced myself that I wanted to have sex and ended up going back to him after some time. I know, dumb. I guess I wanted to believe I wanted to have sex at the time. That I did consent to it.
I’m actually not sure if my other sexual encounters, excluding one, were to my choosing or me giving up the battle before it could start.
5. Three Or More Almost Rape Situations
By a friend, by an acquaintance’s brother, by a neighbor.
Before my virginity was stolen, my best friend possibly drugged me and tried to get me to have group sex with her and some guy she was having sex with at the time.
Some time after my virginity was stolen, I went to a male acquaintances house and found his brother who I had never met before. Now this male acquaintance has never made any move on me and I have freely entered his home several times (his door was literally always open). His brother met me once and acted very lustful to which I didn’t care for. Some weeks after that I visit my friend (the friend who got drunk in point number three) who happened to be his neighbor and they both came down to chat. The guy just took me by force all the way from the ground floor up to his brother’s room and tried to take my clothes off. At first when he took me nobody thought it was serious. We all kind of thought it was a joke until I found myself fighting him off. I managed to get out. He tried following me a week after that at my friend’s housewarming and I told him to back off but he didn’t. I kicked him in the chest.
I currently live in a flat and my neighbor recently invited me over. He had moved in over six months before that and only had brief encounters on the staircase or at the gate. He didn’t have any notable weird habits as a neighbor. When I went over we spoke, got to know each other. He told me he “loved” me to which I rejected because we barely knew each other. He insisted. He tried to chat with me over the phone as often as he could. I wasn’t interested so I did not really pay any mind to it. He again asked to see me, this time we take a walk around the neighborhood. I guess he was pretending to do the whole “taking it slow” thing. We met again at his place some weeks after that and when I decided to leave, he held me tightly claiming he didn’t want me to go then picked me up and quickly carried me to his room. His sister lives with him so she was in the other room. I am now trying to get out of this fucking familiar situation that is the motherfucking theme of my useless life. I was determined to get out of it. I kept thinking to myself, “Not again.” He was extremely forceful. He kept throwing me down and dragging me. At points he would plant his whole body on me and put his mouth on my face forcing me to kiss him because I couldn’t breathe. I tried to pretend to enjoy his attempts so that I could gain control and escape. I struggled. He made me beg him to stop. When he finally released me, I got dressed and got out. He tried apologizing to me and telling me its because he loves me. I told him that’s not love and to leave me alone. I deleted his number and told him how disrespectful he is to me and his sister as well. Personally I thought it was rude to his sister that he would try that while she was there. He tried getting in touch with me again but I ignored him. He actually kind of disappeared from the flat after that. I never saw him on the staircase or at the gate again.
6. Remarks Made By The Men That I Have Worked With
The reason behind this story. I got a text from a male colleague the other day. We became acquainted about two years ago. I met him at an art exhibition. He noticed me walk into the room and observed me and the pieces I was looking at for a few minutes before he approached me. This is not his narration of events that I am using but rather my narration of what I sensed. I can occasionally tell when someone is watching me or intrigued by me and likely to approach so it did not come as a surprise. I thought he was just some random guy trying to hit on me. We spoke about professions and projects then ended up exchanging numbers. Our first few encounters he helped me participate in some of the gigs he secured. He had just established a media business and I at the time was experimenting with photography. He asked me to join his team. I liked what they were going for and thought it would be a good experience. He has a whole studio set up at his house so that’s where all the recording and interviewing takes place. He stays in a part of town that I am not too familiar or comfortable with. The first time I went with him there, I thought there was going to be another woman there because he had mentioned that. There was no one. I got in and found a spot to sit and just stayed put. There wasn’t much to see given the size of the room. I thought that since the lady wasn’t around that it wouldn’t take long and I’d be on my way. Wrong. He started to get comfortable. Went to his room to change and came out in boxers and a vest and talked about ordering food. I insisted I didn’t need it but he ordered anyway. So I ate and made an excuse and he dropped me home. That was just one of the many times I have felt uncomfortable in his presence. He has admitted to being attracted to me but claims he put his feelings aside for the sake of his business. One time I fell ill and had to go for an emergency surgery. I was not able to walk or sit and I didn’t have a car to go to the hospital. I called him to come and get my mother and I. I had no other option, none of my female friends have cars, my neighbors were at work and I didn’t know anybody else who could have been able or willing to carry me down the stairs and into a car. It was reproductive issue that I was struggling with. He was very helpful but I was worried he’d take the whole situation the wrong way. Some days after the incident, he asked me why I didn’t have medical insurance. I didn’t answer him. He assumed I couldn’t afford it. It really doesn’t cost much. He “jokingly” suggested that I marry him for the sake of getting medical insurance. He said it twice and once more when he came to check on my mother and I after Christmas and asked me if my problem affected my ability to bear children. I was uneasy.
Back to the message he sent me the other day was just as unsettling is not more. We had recently agreed to meet soon to discuss certain company matters. I fell sick prior to the meeting and informed him about it. He asked and I told him that I suspect I may have another physical issue that the local doctors are not picking up on and mentioned how I am trying to adjust my lifestyle to see if my health can improve. He replied that I am too young to have any health matters and that maybe the only solution is for me to have a baby. I couldn’t consider it a joke.
The last man I worked with before him told me before and after I left for the holidays that he would find me and rape me if I did not return. He repeated it with a serious tone. Before that he would create a public illusion that he was dating me and insist I sit next to him and not other team members.
These are really just recent problems experienced at work…
Additionally I have grown up seeing women of all walks of life get mistreated by men. From family, friends to colleagues and even strangers. Their experiences are too traumatizing, each one making you question what men really are.
I am fucking scared for my life and incapable of forming any intimate or consensually sexual relation with a man. I can’t even get infatuated. I am scared of ever giving birth to a girl because I don’t want her to go through what I have gone through and I don’t want to have a son because it seems no matter how you raise them, they turn out to be monsters and I can’t add to the existing lot.
My experiences may not be the worst in history and I don’t need them to be. I am just sharing. I wish women could feel safe around men. I find it crazy how we are supposed to consider spending our lives with these same beings when we spend most of our lives fearing them.