Today is International Women’s day. Today, forget everything I ever told you about self-love and self compassion. Forget about how I tell you that it will transform your life and save you.
The truth is, it’s all a lie. Self-love will not save you. Self-love will not save you from people who feel entitled to your body, who target your body based on some arbitrary measure of respectability. Self love is not an impenetrable armor.
Self-love didn’t save the 23 year old girl in India who was gang raped on a bus, had her intestines pulled out with an iron rod then dumped on the streets. In an interview, one of the rapists said “a good girl shouldn’t roam around a 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. She should have been silent”. Additionally, “If women are not “good,” he said, men have a right to “teach them a lesson” by raping them. And if that happens, the woman being raped has a responsibility to silently accept the assault. “When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape.”
Self love did not save Penny Proud, the 5th transgender woman this year to be killed in the US. Considering the marginalization of transgender people, there truly is no greater act of self love for them than to be exactly who they are, but that very act of love is costing them their lives.
Self love did not save Jada, a 16 year old girl in the US who was gang raped and her perpetrator uploaded a video of her assault which went viral. This triggered a trend on social media called #jadapose where people posed lying on the floor with no bottoms on pretending to be passed out.
Self love did not save two 14 year-old twin girls who were gang raped and hanged on a tree. Pictures show the girls wearing clothes that completely covered their bodies. We can only assume the attackers were turned on by their ankles or something.
On this International Women’s day, I call to YOU, to ALL OF US, to take ownership of our contribution to a culture in which women are constantly in danger based on some arbitrary respectability spectrum. To denounce the fatally misleading belief that self-love and self-respect will protect women from sexual violence. For all of us who called a girl a slut because of the way she dressed, or said a girl who dresses provocatively must be asking for it. For all of us who refuse to use the proper pronouns when addressing a transgender person. For all the times you raised or encouraged a woman to only find her value in her ability to keep her legs closed, while simultaneously raising or encouraging a man to think his value lies in how many of those legs he can pry open. All those acts, are acts of violence and gateways to the sexual violence women are subjected to. It must stop.
Stop telling women that their self-love and respectability is going to save them. Dear woman, on this International day of women, I want you to know that whether you are madly in love with your body or completely hate yourself and wish you had a different body, NOBODY IS EVER, EVER ENTITLED TO YOUR BODY. EVER.
HANDS OFF OUR BODIES.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.