One thing that's been on my mind recently is an issue many women have faced all of their lives. We are constantly sexualized. 

I grew up in the south, and I remember being told from an early age "don't wear that, you don't want to attract the wrong attention." Innocently at the time I'd picked out outfits because I thought they were cute, not because I was looking to "attract" anyone. It took me a long time to understand that we live in a very misogynistic world, and a lot of these view points were centered on the idea that the female body is centered around male-attention. It seemed that our existence in our bodies was based on "attracting."

This idea followed me into my adolescence. This is where insecurity and doubt starting to emerge. I'd been taught my body was created to "attract."  Religion taught me "attracting" was wrong. High School taught me not attracting meant I wasn't good enough. I'd been conditioned to believe my worth was in my level of attractiveness. Throughout my first few years in high school I did not blossom, I'd hit puberty but my figure still resembled that of a young girl. I'd been shaped to think this was wrong. I was never taught to embrace my body, only to be ashamed of it. Boy's were not taught not to comment on the female body, they did quite often. Many of us, as teenage girls, subconsciously judged each other based on what the male students felt about our bodies. 

Everything I was taught about my body was centered on the male's view of the female body. Most of which was sexualized.  The idea of my body being a sexual object was made apparent as I finally began to blossom, my high school as well as my college had strict dress codes that focused primarily on the female. While I wasn't looking to go out naked, I simply wanted to dress according to the weather and living in a very hot area shorts, skirts, tanks and dresses were the norm. I was taught these are "distractions." Not the clothes but my body, a distraction. I could not wear them because I would "attract" male attention as if this was my burden to bear, because I was born with this anatomy. 

I found it peculiar that my education could be interrupted because I chose to wear shorts on a hot day because a boy may be distracted... and I never understood why this was the norm. I found it even more disgusting once I had a child, my body had been through the most difficult physical task to date and I nursed my child from that same body. I lived in a city in Europe at the time, I nursed him everywhere. Some found this disturbing. Videos began to surface of other women nursing in public being publicly shamed, shamed because many felt that our breasts are private. People only feel this because they've been overly sexualized in our society. It's peculiar that I can't use my bosom for their original purpose without being made to feel ashamed. 

Growing up in a very conservative, male-dominated area, becoming sex-positive and empowering women has not been easy. We've been made to feel ashamed of our bodies our entire lives. So many women walk around feeling terrible about themselves, and those who are confident in their skin are shamed. We are taught that our level of intelligence and worth is based on our appearance. We are taught we have to dress and look a certain way to be successful. Women are even taught to be ashamed of our own anatomy. 

As more and more women awake to the notion that these ideas are rooted in a male-dominate society, we begin to progress and move into a nation that allows us all to be who we are without shame. 

- Raneisha Stassin



Published by Raneisha Stassin