If you call a rose a thorn, time after time, will it not become a thorn? To you it will become a thorn but in essence it will always be a rose. This is the same for those who are unaware of the story behind the painting. Sometimes we take things at face value, the actions of a thing, the expression we see but the intention and reason behind it we seldom seek to learn.
From time immemorial, women have been persecuted for their beauty, their nature. A man sees the object of his affection and claims it as a prize. I remember coming across the story of Dinah in the Bible. The mysterious story of a woman scorned, the 13th child of Jacob; the only daughter, the unspoken. Her story is one that is overlooked and I question why..is it because of the patriarchal modalities that aim to blot out a woman’s significance or is it that her story is one of such shame that the fatality was only told. Prince Shechem saw her, and claimed her as his own. They said that she was a tease, flaunting her beauty and that is why her fate was written the way it was. She was taken, raped, bore a child and that’s where her story ended.
I admit that I’m guilty of looking at a woman that utilizes her body as a means of living and judged her. I admit that at times I’ve scorned her, even allowed laughter to spill from my lips into the open. The truth is I am that woman and she is I. Her pain is my pain, and her yearning is also mines, though we may not share the same experience our stories are still intertwined. I’ve sat and conversed with a woman who sold herself as an occupation, she is just like you and me..living and breathing, with hopes and dreams and longings of unconditional love. The same blood, the same minerals, the same air we breathe because we were no different. She had a beautiful smile, lively and full of life and I saw that but at times I also the brokenness, the choices she made, the life she chose to live and the fact that she knew other ways but chose to partake in what she knew best.
Looking back, I feel quite an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach because my humanity left me when I began to poke fun and I know that I will have to pay for that some day, if not already. I remember throughout school and growing up people used to say I had dick sucking lips and a fat ass, with what little self worth I had I found this partly complimenting and amusing. To be honest I don’t consciously remember growing up and having any one familial or friends to a certain age tell me I was beautiful, my values became skewered but my heart was still longing for real love, unconditional. There are certain things I was told about myself and at significant points in my life, really when I lost myself I became the epitome of these things, I became my abuser. I particularly remember when someone I considered dear to me, remarked that I was always “open” when I expressed that I was an open person. In my heart I forgave him but my mind would never let me forget because part of me knew that this was true, not because I took pleasure from it but because it was the only way I knew a man loved a woman, that’s what I learnt from a very young age..between her legs was love.
The conversation of sex and love was rare in my family, a taboo. So as a young girl, between running away, multiple suicide attempts and getting inebriated on alcohol my expedition towards love and the understanding of it was quite a fucked up one. I only wanted to to be understood, like the countless women that hold their hearts so closely you’d think they didn’t have one. Really, it’s tightly locked away, its easier to offer your body, it’s harder to offer your heart. We live in a society that glorifies sex, that glorifies a naked woman but never really teach you the value of a woman, her worth.
If you’re not shown, how will you ever do it?
My mother didn’t have “that talk”, so it was a matter of trial and error for her, and so it was passed down, this inheritance, this uncomfortable truth. Once you’ve sat with this, felt it, embraced it, confronted it..What do you do with it?
I guess that’s down to you.