*Content Warning: This piece contains a reference to sexual assault, which may be triggering to some.*
My body was always foreign to me. From the moment puberty hit like one big heavy red brick, until I experienced my first sexual, well anything. My body for much of my early life did not feel like my own. It felt like it belonged to various men in my life.
From my father, who took it upon himself to be entitled to point out whenever my body decided to develop and his disapproval for the way my clothes began to morph to my body.
To the sticky boys I went to middle school with, who took it upon themselves to rate my body daily on a numeric scale of 1 to 10 in attractiveness in their eyes. To the less sticky more stinky boys I went to college with who empowered their hands and tongues through the readings of #MeToo and “black women are queens” think pieces; to the point that they felt as if they had just as much a claim to my body and could share it with who they chose as much as I did.
I must admit though that when I think back to the first man in my life, in general, my father and his reaction to my body before, during, and after development, I admire the thought process that his so-called protection came from. Fathers often want to protect their daughters out of the fear of what they wanted to do, and what they know some other boys did to someone else’s daughters in an earlier life.
Now in a sense, they fear karma for their own daughters. So they develop a plan to essentially shame daughters into, if not covering up in modesty, then covering up in pure fear. Now I must be clear, I do not in any way blame my father for my assault. All I am saying is that in our community, we too often let men and boys take ownership of young girls’ bodies without ever laying a hand on them in misguided attempts to “help them.”