Growing up I always thought respectable women were supposed to be undesirable. They were the ones who reminded you of your mother’s strength and determination, your Sunday School teacher’s chaste nature, your grandmother’s wisdom, so finding them attractive would really honestly just be creepy.
I didn’t fully realize I still thought this way until I saw a picture of Lauryn Hill that slightly aroused me. I was confused. Would I do Lauryn Hill? I’d like to think not. But why? And my first response was “Because I respect her.” I sat and thought “This is some bullshit.”
See one thing you need to know about me in order to understand this is, when I think, I seem to have a slight case of split personality disorder. We argue, we exchange different opinions and whoever wins, does.
So I had to have a little counselling session with myself to figure out why, as a person who thinks they’re fairly progressive, I still have these thoughts stuck in the crevices of my mind.
I realized I hadn’t covered all bases when it came to unlearning what I’ve been taught about women’s sexuality and their freedom to make choices and live as they please. I had to ask myself, “What bullshit it this? It needs to go. You have sex, does that make you any less respectable? You know it doesn’t, so forget this mess.”
I was ashamed. Confused too. I understood that this was as a result of what I’d been raised to believe, that women who enjoy sex/the company of men don’t deserve any form of respect, nor could they possibly be intelligent because all intelligent women were chaste and had better things to do.
I won’t lie, it’s something I’m still working on internally. I didn’t think it would be this difficult but sometimes I slip up and have to remind myself that it’s the wrong way to think, and that I know better. We’re a few months into the struggle.
While passing a group of Muslim women I told my friend how I find women in Niqabs and Burqas beautiful, which may be odd since you can’t really see their features, but I still feel that way. He said “Of course you do, you wanna know what’s under there, it’s the mystery.” And I had to explain to him that it really had nothing to do with that. I’m attracted to them as I’m attracted to women clad in modern day clothing : jeans, miniskirts etc. Their attire, if at all it plays any part in it, has next to nothing to do with how I view them. It could be her eyes, her walk, the way she sits, really, it’s her presence. As it could be for any other girl on the street.
Of course many people are of the mind that these women are attractive BECAUSE they cover up and that makes them “different” and there’s a certain thrill associated with tainting the “purity” associated with them. Simply, they are fetishized, and a lot of people seem to not see anything wrong with it.
On that topic, I feel we should see beauty where it is simply because it’s there. Not because we want to conquer new territory or “try something different”. Being fetishized has to be one of the most painful things actually because you’re in a sense dehumanized. It’s not about you, as a person, it’s about that tiny part of you that someone chooses to fixate on, and you then lose your identity and become just that.
But of course this will possibly fall on deaf ears. It’s a process to locate and uproot the foundation of the wrong thoughts that you have.
For many of us lately it’s hard to realize that human beings are so much more than bodies. That we have the capacity to be both sexual and spiritual, focused and open minded. That we aren’t boxed in by labels until we choose to be and create our Selves around them.