Many people have called me brave for speaking out. Strong. Even powerful. Most days I’ve just felt unlucky.
See so many people asked me so many questions.
”Did it hurt?”
“Was I sure?”
“What did I wear?”
“I probably liked it.”
“Wasn’t I just being naughty.”
The worst question, the absolute worst was, “was it a bad rape, because it couldn’t be that bad if I wasn’t physically hurt.”
If you ask me why I chose to write, ‘At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me?’ The answer is simple. I needed to speak out. Even If it was just to show one person that they weren’t alone. I needed to speak out.
The bigger reason is I needed to know the answer to that question. It’s simple right. You might be tempted to say at birth. Yet when I walk down the street I’m still greeted loud sneering and whispers. Sometimes unwanted touches that turn to anger as I say no. That turn to anger as I fight back.
See they are angry at my audacity to deny them of my body but who told them that it was theirs to take?
Us as survivors we’ve become statistics and every year during 16 days of activism and during days of awareness these statistics are shared across the interwebs and they remain just that sad figures but we forget that these are real lives being affected. These are real people with names.
My name is Amanda Marufu and I want you to remember that as you read this.
’1 in 3 female rape victims experience it for the first time between 11-17 years old’
I was much younger than 11 the first time, broken in the place I was meant to call home
The second time, I was a teen held down a man who had sworn to protect me from the shadows I was trying to escape from at home.
See that stat represents two things. Out of every crowd you see the number of girls who’ve been raped increases as the number of girls in that room grows. The second thing most times it doesn’t happen just once.
We don’t discuss rape or abuse because it’s too ugly a word and we don’t want to admit that it’s still happening. Yet here I am, 24 years old and I still have nightmares. I still flinch a little when someone touches me. I still crouch when someone raises their voice a little too loudly. I still wish I could fight more than I wish for anything else in the world. I still wish I could protect myself from those that lurk in the light right in front of society and right in front of all seeing eyes.
I always used to ask myself if so many girls are being raped why does everyone pretend they don’t know a rapist. That it’s not indeed happening right in front of their eyes.
Why does everyone still make jokes that insinuate that a Womens body is not her own and pretend that it is not problematic. Stop pretending because it is all problematic.
And now for some very valid, very angry replies to stupid questions.
Disclaimer: it is not my job to make you feel better about your internalized guilt and I’m not here to tell you that it’s okay. IT’S NOT.
1. If you feel like you should have protected your child better or done better You should have. There’s nothing more I can say on this.
Look there’s NO ONE else to blame for rape and abuse but the perpetrators and we can agree on that.
But if your child spoke up and you did nothing. That’s on you.
If your child told you they felt uncomfortable around a certain person and you forced them to stay around that person anyway. That’s on you.
If you have an uncle, Sekuru calling your child my wife and asking them to sit on his lap and they are uncomfortable. STOP IT.
Protect your child. Let’s stop using culture and religion as an excuse to let people get away with their abusive tendencies.
If your child came out about their abuse and you still because you were too scared to disrupt the family unit, forced them to stay around their abuser.
You should have done better. You should have believed your child. You should have never forced them in close proximity with someone they didn’t feel safe around.
I hear a lot of there was no way to know. They were a child. They accused the pastor of rape or he was such a good man and sooooo? So fucking what??
Let’s stop pretending rape happens in dark corners with monsters and Gauls from the underworld. It’s happening at home, at schools, at churches. By the same people who will smile at you and hold your hand and give you a prayer the next day.
It’s happening right infront of your face, abuse does not happen in a vacuum. So yes you can do better.
2. Fuck outta here with the I’m now scared to have sex because I’ll be accused of rape or now I’m too scared to even approach a girl.
Good! Bloody Great!
If you’re scared you’ll think twice , think a third time and wait to hear a yes.
Do you feel safe walking alone at night?
717,527 people worldwide over 68 million days of activity. They found that in countries all over the world, girls and women walk less than boys and men.
You might be wondering why that’s relevant and let me tell you.
While learning a course on supporting victims of domestic abuse, I learnt this:
On average women are scared of the most basic of human things. Walking. On average women just don’t feel safe walking alone. We are constantly scared. So yes, yes Jared you can afford to be scared and think twice before touching a woman. Before approaching a woman. Before doing anything.
We think twice before crossing the street, getting into a kombie, a taxi or a car. Before walking through town in a dress because we will be harassed. When we hear footsteps coming up behind us. When a man decides to start swearing at us because we refused to give them our number. We think twice every single time we are alone in a public place. When we decide to drink in a club. When we are at work and we are placed in the position to either stay quiet or lose our job. Stay quiet or be failed at school. Be kicked out of school. We think twice every single day because we never feel safe. We are always scared.
Because as Natalie Jester stated,
“I don’t think men really understand the degree to which women feel unsafe.”
Read a few of these articles, on walking.
Last year, a US-based activist posed a hypothetical question to women on Twitter. “What would you do if all men had a 9pm curfew?”
The responses were shocking in their simplicity:
Go for a run
Walk in the woods
Sit on the beach at night
Listen to music with both earbuds in
Does it really affect you that much to just care about the person you are partaking in sexual intercourse with. I think not.
Ask for consent. Consent isn’t silence. Consent is agreement. It’s a yes, anything else is not consent. So yes if you are going for a women and she doesn’t give you her consent. Please feel free to be scared. If for any second you feel doubt in your mind because you are not completely sure of her enjoyment. STOP!!
Just STOP! Ask, make sure she is comfortable. She is feeling pleasure and if at any point she says stop, then stop. Blue balls will NOT kill you. It’s really simple to be a decent guy so be one. If you feel inconvenience having to pause for two seconds and ask then you shouldn’t be touching her body anyway.
Please and thank you.
Love Amanda Tayte-Tait