The Disrepect of Our Sex

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thoughts on the imbalance of power

I read another tragic account of the Weinstein crimes this morning in the New York Times. This one candidly written and bravely shared by Lupita Nyong’o. Her description and her words brought me to tears. My tears are a recognition of that feeling and that moment when another human being (men in my experience) forcibly and unapologetically took away my power because of my sex.

Each of our experiences with sexual discrimination, harassment and assault are unique, our threshold and tolerance for such abuses different, but one aspect is the same: the feeling of powerlessness. My independence, my passion, and my desire for life, dreams and experiences were traits that defined me, gave me confidence and pushed me forward. All of that was diminished in an instant when a man decided to knowingly take away that assurance in an abuse of the social power dynamic with a comment, a leer, a grope, and every invasion of my body, my sex and my self.

No one taught me how to say no. No one shared with me what to do in that moment, what to say, or how to keep me safe. Consent was just a footnote in the collective conversation. It was often just implied. Never explicitly asked for or given

Each of our stories rip my heart every time. Each of those encounters, however minor, are wounds reopened, gushing forth red. Red - the shade of pain, embarrassment and shame that I feel for being so small, so unprepared, so violated. For too long the silence has held back the flood of truth. We suffer an epidemic of sexual inequality in our society, our country, and our world. Until we, as women, control our sex and sexuality - embrace it, own it, demand it - we will never be equal. 

Respect begins within. It begins with our acknowledgement of the ugly truth. It begins by breaking our self-imposed bonds of silence and recognizing that our lack of comfort in speaking and acting on our sexuality stems from what we were taught, not who we are. It begins by embracing our sisters who have suffered. It begins by demanding change.

I dedicate the evolution of Respect Her Sex to every woman who has suffered disrespect because of her sex.