Moments follow all of us. They make us. And they break us.
I think all women have a turning point, where they see what defines us as women is stuck under a male gaze. Some women are angry when they realize. empowered with a fighting, protective defense. Thus, they become activists of fellow women’s equality, of their safety.
Meanwhile, other women silently process it. They think about their life as a girl and the woman they are now. In between school drop-offs, they read through radical feminism books. They cry between breaths of relatability. They grieve for their young daughters’ futures and worry for their sons.
I found my defining moment of rage sometime between birthing my daughter, almost three years ago, and my present day. I read, divulged and realized where women stand. Men dominate our world; thus, women do not experience the freedom in ways they do.
We are not free until we free ourselves with resilience and knowledge.
I know of women who were greeted by grown men publicly masturbating to them, whilst the only crime they committed as girls was sitting with their school-girl legs swinging under a uniform skirt.
We are strung before courts of misogyny. We board buses with daughters in our hands and watch as they watch us. An assertion of dominance.
Once, I was the girl who was unaware of the anger she needed to feel to bear the armor required. Now I know that fury.
What we need as women
Our moments are no longer ours. As women, we need fury. We need it to protect ourselves and others.
Our inner moments and strength are what we can own. The things that cannot be muddied by the rough hand or watchful eye of men.
I see my body naked before me as she is now. Soft and glimmering. Long and pudgy. Curls of public hair sprouting long. She is feared and lathered upon all at once by a male gaze.
Do not see the beauty in your female form as art or growth, they tell us. Even when we have abused her and longed for her to be a certain way. My flesh is celebrated yet frowned upon.
My defining moment is seeing my form as mine, truly owning her. I grieve for the little girl who was stolen away from my body and eaten up by men. But even more, I am now proud of the woman’s face and spirit I now inhabit.
Men are scared now, and I have noticed it. They know that we know what it has felt like to lose a part of our ownership and control every day.
If you have not yet reached that defining moment of being preyed upon that fills your soul with anger, grief, or fear that rocks your body with sudden understanding and unlocks the warpaint, I will be here when you find her. And I will hold you close.