Growing up I have had a love hate relationship with my body; half the time I feel like I’m awkwardly short, uncomfortably chubby and have really dull skin. The other half of the time I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MYSELF. However, it seems when I am in the latter space and wearing my pride on my sleeve, there is always someone who is waiting to take all that light away; waiting to remind me that my body was never only mine.
In my very short life I have been a victim of verbal harassment, sexual harassment and rape- I would like to focus on the last one for a moment. The incident happened when I was 18/19; it was a guy who thought I looked really pretty at a party and went on to remind me that my body was never only mine. At the time I did not know what had happened. I knew it was wrong but I also felt like I was to blame to an extent. It took me almost two years to be able to say the words “I was raped” to myself and then another 365 days to utter those words to another human being. Almost 7 years later and I finally have the courage to write the words on the pages of the world wide web. In this time I went through so many processes and one of them was the process of loving my body and not being ashamed of it, so every now and then I celebrate myself.
So last night, was one of those nights where I decided I wanted to celebrate my body. I was invited to an event and dressed up to suit my mood…
Once the event was done my friend and I uber’d to her place and then I decided to take the 10 minute drive home because I knew I wanted to wake up early and work but I had left my laptop. A robot away from my house I get stopped by cops. I take out my license as requested, when asked I tell the policeman that I have had some to drink. When asked if I know I can get arrested I said yes I do and I would understand if they did arrest me. The policeman proceeded to ask me if I have a credit card and if I knew where the atm was. I reply “It wouldn’t help much anyway because I don’t have money.” His colleague then approached the car and asked me to get out. Now at this stage I am trying to avoid putting myself in a worse situation so I get out the car. I then spent the next 15 minutes listening to how amazing my breasts look, answering questions about my cup size and how my nipples look and feel. So much was going through my mind but the loudest was “Banele remember that these men can have your body whenever they want because it is not only yours.” Eventually we get to the stage where I am being asked if I know how to change a man’s mind and with a quivering voice I say “I have no idea what you are talking about. I know what I have done is wrong and I am so sorry. It is raining and I really just want to get home. Please” The men looked at me, gave me back my licence and let me go. I drove the last minute and a half in tears, arrived home and thought to myself “Wow… I really shouldn’t dress like this.” Feeling dirty and violated and to be honest a little sluttish I put on my warmest winter pajamas and tried to get some sleep.
I am fully aware of the fact that I probably should not have taken the chance, driving home, but I also don’t believe that anyone should have to go through that kind of harassment, no matter what the circumstances. One of my biggest fears in life is that one day I will have to look my daughter in the eyes and telling her that her body is not only hers, it belongs to anyone who has the authority to take even an inch of it from her, cover it in dirt, step on it, spit on it and give it back to her to deal with all its dents and bruises. Until the world decides to change and give me my body back I can only dream of a better story.