Warning: Shit is about to get soapboxy all over the place here.
I am, of course, speaking metaphorically here regarding turning on the light. My poor misshapen, blue eyes are light sensitive. And lets not forget the debate amongst those who know me if I’m actually a vampire. I’m almost positive I’m not. I mean yeah, I will bite people and there are times when I sparkle in the sun (damn you Stephanie Meyer!!!), and there was that time when I stepped into a church and thought I was going to die. But that turned out to be really bad cramps. Right. So . Metaphoric turning on the light inspired by a couple conversations yesterday.
“I want it to be his problem!” I shouted to answer why I’d want one last conversation with Hotty McHotster after processing the slim part of me that wouldn’t mind a second chance. “I don’t want this to be my problem!” The silence that fell over the room as I actually listened to what I had just shouted at my co-worker made me cringe. All the internalized shit I’ve been dealing with for the past three weeks is mine to deal with. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his own issues because he does. I know this because I’m an overthinking therapist. (FYI dating a therapist is the worst because we know shit.) But I definitely have mine to deal with right now. Earlier in the day, I went to see my therapist, who inspired the aforementioned conversation about reconnecting with Hotty McHotster.
Apart from suggesting I figure out what I really want to do and going after it, even if it does mean putting my emotional balls on the line with Hotty McHotster one more time (along with other possibilities like continuing to give dating the giant middle finger whilst I focus on me), she did drop some wisdom on my ass. I may have been shouting her too (yesterday was a super shouty day for me apparently) about the internalized, insidious nature of what had been hooked in me recently. Like when you try to clean out a clogged drain and you pull out something truly nasty… that’s an accurate description to how it feels right now. In her calming manner, she simply stated, “It’s internalized because you don’t talk about it.”
Thus, in an effort to deal with my problem(s) and finding a way uninternalize (?) deinternalize (?)(whichever works) them, I’m going to climb up onto my soapbox. And I’m going to talk about what I’ve internalized and my experience of it. So really, if that’s not your thing, stop reading now, come back later to see what antics I get up to on Monday and pretend this one doesn’t exist. I’ll never know the difference, hand to God. Just don’t be a dick about it, not that any of my dear readers would ever be a dick. I sometimes feel the need to make such unnecessary reminders. Right. Moving on.
My face is blue from how much I’ve been talking about how my internalized sexism/slut shaming were triggered in me recently. I’m sick of talking about how it happened. Why was it even there in the first place to be hooked? I’ll tell myself the same damn thing when they ask why; there is no answer to that question that will ever justify what you have experienced. Perhaps, the better question to ask is, What sort of shit was I bombarded with my entire life that made me believe these things? Yes. That is a much better question to answer and unpack and all that.
The late 70s and early 80s was an interesting time to be born. I still remember TV shows where the only women shown were victims who needed a man to save them. However, there was a shift as I got a bit older where women were the heroes of their own lives. But they still were all about the shoooooes. I was also raised in a church that embraced the fuck out of the purity movement. Note: In no way am I saying was my upbringing in the church all bad. I took a lot of good things from it. Their intentions were not bad. It is just my experience of this particular aspect. End note. Most women have multiple sources for the negative thoughts they’ve internalized about being a woman. I am no exception to the norm when it comes to this.
The number of times I received the message, either from a secular or sacred input, it was my responsibility to make sure I’m not tempting a male sexually is fucking astounding. To delve even further down the rabbit hole, as I got older, even though it was never said in these exact words, the messages that it was my job to make sure I never got raped came in just as much. And if I did get raped it was my fault; forget about any other sort of sexual assault, it was all on me and the other women to stop it. No one would ever say that explicitly. But when you tell a female person she shouldn’t have worn that or she shouldn’t have been walking alone or she shouldn’t have gone to that place, that is what you’re saying. After hearing it for years, it took its toll on me. I made that so true that despite my educational/intelligence level, I still blamed myself for not listening to my intuition and/or putting myself in “that” situation.
Slut shaming!!! Whilst it is related to the aforementioned female responsibility for not getting sexually assaulted, it’s not the same thing. It goes way beyond having sex before you’re married, for the religious messages I got and having multiple sexual partners for the secular messages I got. I was told mostly by religious folk to dress a certain way but in the name of modesty. My people wouldn’t have come outright and used the word slut, and yet somehow they managed to imply it, not so subtly. “In the world” as in not in the church, you were a slut if you dated more than one boy at a time. Non-sluts only date one man at a time. Because I dress like a teenage boy far more often than I would like to admit, the whole how you dress thing hasn’t been a personal internalized issue for me. And as I’ve gotten older, the issues about dressing a certain way have become more complicated about why is that considered sexy. Hopefully, I don’t think anyone is slutty, especially based on the clothes they wear. However, the whole multiple partners (not even sexual ones) thing, good lawd, I thought I dealt with in grad school. Apparently, I didn’t. Yay!
There’s a philosophy (?) saying (?) paradigm (?), I’m guessing it’s Buddhist because you know nothing from the West would ever say such a thing… “You should thank the people who’ve hooked your shit. Because now you know what needs your attention.” Okay, maybe it’s not exact quote, but you get the idea. According to this, I should be thanking Hotty McHotster (and the hickey giving guy too I guess) for triggering me. I know the hickey guy will never read this. But on the off chance, Hotty McHotster reads this, thanks. No, seriously, I genuinely mean it. Even though I’ve felt like shit for the past three (ish) weeks, I would have been living in a greater level of ignorance if I hadn’t had that reaction to you. And whilst it feels like everything sucks ass right now (and not in the kinky way), in the end, I’m going to be a truer version of myself because I’ve dealt with this bullshit.
Internalization goes deep and has an insidious nature. Forgive me for repeating myself, but I don’t think it can be over-emphasized. A woman being responsible for not getting herself raped and being labeled a slut for going on two dates in the same weekend with as many persons are only small slices of how I’ve internalized sexism. I’ve internalized the way I’m supposed to look and what I’m supposed to be interested in and that I need a man to come and save me. Okay, I have processed the shit out that last one. I know and believe and feel I don’t need a man to come and save me. However, there is the whole “you need to be in a relationship to be of value” lie, but to be fair, that is not specifically a female thing. Wanting to be in relationship is human nature; devaluing someone being alone for whatever reason is oppressive.