Who taught you not to love yourself?

The following is quoted from Inga Muscio’s book, “Cunt”, in her interview with Soraya Mire, a Somali woman who also produced the film, “Fire Eyes”.

“In countries like mine, the law is blatantly against women. What we do have, though, is love and community. You never think only of yourself, you always think of your neighbors and family, too.
The problem with a lot of Western women is they think they can help me, that they know what’s best for me. Especially feminist women. They come into conversations waving the American flag, forever projecting the idea they are more intelligent than i am. I’ve learned that American women look at women like me to hid from their own pain. They can’t face their pain, and mine is so obvious, they think they can help me without looking at themselves. But many women in this country are empty. They desperately try to find something to fill the empty space inside them – the loneliness deep inside. In my country, this kind of loneliness does not exist.
In America, women pay the money that is theirs and no one else’s to go to a doctor who cuts them up so they can create or sustain an image men want. Men are the mirror. Western women cut themselves up voluntarily. In my country, a child is woken up at three in the morning, held down and cut with a razor blade. She has no choice. Western women pay to get their bodies mutilated.
When you base your whole self-image on a man – on another human being – how can you expect that person – whether its a man or a woman – to respect you? How can you respect yourself when you do not have love and respect for yourself?”

Wow. Take a moment to let that all sink in. We think we live in a country of freedom. And in most aspects we do and we should not take that for granted. However, we also live in a patriarchal society that teaches women to hate each other. And ourselves. Even I am guilty of it, I have noticed within myself, that when I see a woman who I view as exceedingly beautiful, I assume they’re not going to be “my kind of people”. What the fuck is that? Often, I am proven wrong. Thankfully. And I own that and I am now good friends with some of those women that I totally judged without even meeting them. How awful is that? To judge someone based solely on their appearance. But we do it all the time. It’s easier to judge the other person than it is to look inside of ourselves and see what it is that this persons appearance triggers in us. Maybe what we wish we had, or what we don’t love within ourselves.

I used to say I preferred male friendships because women were mostly bitches. What is that?!

United we stand, divided we fall. The patriarchy needs women to stay divided. If we all banded together to support each other and brought each other up, we would run the world. And what a beautiful, nurturing world that would be. If we all un-learned what we’ve been taught about who and what we “should” be, and tapped into that inner knowing deep within our guts, that intuition that we as women are all born with, allowed our walls to come down and our natural state of love to come out, together we would be incredibly powerful.

But instead we’re too busy hating ourselves. And each other. And what a shitty place to be that is.

I personally have, thankfully, found a few groups of women over the years to be part of that are focused solely on love. Bringing each other up. Supporting each other, nurturing ourselves and one another, loving each other. Most importantly they encourage each other to love themselves. There is more power in these groups of 5 and 11 and 33 than I’ve ever witnessed, and how scary that must be for the patriarchy to know what could happen if a whole country of women banded together in a state of love like this.

I am so incredibly grateful for each one of these women.

I’ve never considered myself a feminist, because I was brainwashed into believing that that was a bad thing, that we are all equal so let it go already. But we aren’t. I can’t go deep into the wage gaps or all of the inter-generational trauma in women from years of silence and being considered less than. All the women and men who had to fight for women to be equal. I grew up being told I was equal to men, so that’s what I believed. But every cat call when you’re walking down the street, every rape that is followed by silence, every film that glorifies and sexualizes rape and non-consentual sexual violence, every man that has ever thought he could manipulate me because I’m a woman, every man who has ever spoken down to me because I am a woman, every boy who ever bullied me on the playground simply because I was a girl. Every teacher who ever looked up a girls skirt in class. Every female student who ever got a pass because she was “pretty” in her low cut top and short skirt. Every woman who ever learned that she could get away with things if she dressed a certain way.

We are not yet equal.

I am you and you are me. What happens to one woman happens to us all. And every time we tease or judge or bash another woman, every time we respond in silence (or worse, criticism) after one of our sisters is raped, we let the patriarchy win.

We hand our power over every single day by not coming together.

I have friends of all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, genders, sexual orientation. A few of them are, by societies projections, absolutely stunningly beautiful. Young, tall, thin but not too thin, made up with just the right amount of makeup each day, either super blonde or super dark, the right outfits to go with it, they are everything that society calls beautiful. And yet, they are the ones out of my friends, who are getting botox, lip fillers and labioplasties (for cosmetic reasons not medical) before they’re even 30.

What is wrong with this picture? I want to scream and shake them and ask who told you you weren’t good enough?! And then I want to just bundle them up in a warm blanket and hold them and love them until they learn to love themselves.

I held off on writing this piece for a long time because I didn’t want to offend anyone. I do not place judgement on my friends who have chosen to alter their appearances, however, I do feel very sad for the women of the world. I feel sad that this is what we are taught. That we are not good enough. And I believe that we are taught that because it keeps us quiet. It keeps us dormant. It keeps us compliant.

I’m not sitting in silence ladies. I am okay with being disruptive when it is in a positive way. I am okay with being non-compliant. I am okay with being feared by the patriarchy and anyone who sits comfortably in it. Are you?

What can we do? We can shop in women-run businesses. We can avoid businesses that force their female employees to wear low cut tops, short skirts and heels. We can respond to rape in a loud way. Cut the silence. We can boycott films that glorify and sexualize non-consentual sex or sexual violence. We can support other women. We can celebrate each other. We can do this in big ways or in small ways. Most importantly, we can take every step necessary to get to a point of loving ourselves and each other. We can stand in our own power and own it.

If we all heal ourselves first, together we can heal the world.

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