Disclaimer- adult content
I’ve been a sex object almost my whole life. Literally, really, honestly. You may look at me and think there’s no way. I’m not traditionally sexy. I’m overweight, have bad skin, a sagging chest, and am constantly sick and tired. Not exactly Playboy material. But I know oppression. More specifically, I know sexual oppression. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
One of my earliest memories was when I was four years old. I don’t remember much, but I remember one night, I was at the babysitter’s house. He was a teenage male. I don’t remember any details whatsoever beyond this. I remember I was sleeping and was woken up by his hands in places they shouldn’t be.
When I was 10, I was already in a real bra. No “training” about it. I would sit at my desk and a boy would make excuses to walk by my desk and reach out and grab my chest. Also at this age, I was attracting grown men. I was 10, but I looked much much older. Some even guessed I was 18 when I showed them pictures.
By this time, I understood the power of my feminine body. A couple of years later, I was dressing to show off my assets for the sole purpose of attracting boys.
When I got into middle school and high school, I realized I was attracted to the very smart, intellectual, geeky type of boy. These boys (and their female friends) wanted nothing to do with me. I was a bimbo who couldn’t offer them anything. I was an honors student, in the gifted and talented program, in drama club and leadership on the dance team. In fact, I was nominated for All-American twice and given the opportunities to perform at college bowl games. But all anybody saw was my body.
Boys would make bets to see how far I would go with them, and got mad when I didn’t give them what they wanted. Once, my drink was spiked at a party and I was fortunate a good friend was there to help me get home safely.
After high school, I gave up. I no longer cared about my dream of being a geologist or paleontologist. I was walking sex and that was it. I felt that was all I could offer. As an adult, I’ve been raped, blackmailed and exploited. I also made terrible choices in regards to partying, alcohol and sex.
Earlier this year, something changed in me. My desire was no longer to be the prettiest or hottest woman in the world. I knew I had so much more to give. About this time, I converted to Islam and started wearing hijab.
Hijab is the Islamic head covering. Actually, it’s not even Islamic per se. Catholic nuns wear hijab, as did Mary, mother of Jesus. Hijab is also modest dressing. I am covered head to toe, with the exception of my face and hands, any time I am in public. I also wear loose clothing that doesn’t cling to my shape.
The difference this has made in my life is monumental. For the first time in my life, I can walk down the street and not feel like a piece of meat. I may stand out from the crowd because very few wear hijab in this city. But, I can almost guarantee, nobody is looking at me sexually. I don’t have anything showing anymore. Men will have to look elsewhere to see legs and cleavage. I’m no longer interesting to these type of men.
Once at the mosque, I was pulled aside by one of the sisters and asked if I was married. There were a couple of gentleman who were interested in getting to know me. I found it so respectful that they didn’t approach me with a “Hey baby.” They treated me like a lady and when they found out I was married, they were happy for me. They even made my husband feel welcome when he visited.
The best part is my new friendships! I went to dinner a few weeks ago with my husband, my daughter, a man from Morocco, and a Lebanese man. The food was incredible (saffron tea, chicken and potatoes. All spiced Moroccan style). The conversation involved religion, culture, politics and business. I think this dinner lasted almost four hours! I now also have friends from Algeria, Indonesia, India, England, and Australia. Not to mention, my closest friends from right here are even closer to me than ever.
My conversations are no longer about my body, alcohol or partying. I can talk science, politics, geography and history and actually hold my own in these conversations. I’m even interested in a couple of new sports! (sailing and horseracing) I am also planning on going to school in the fall for my bachelors (and eventually masters) in Islamic Studies.
Those who don’t know me, may think the hijab is oppressing me. The honest truth is I was oppressed my whole life until I put my hijab on. Now I am respected. I am listened to. I am taken seriously. Now, I am free.