You've likely witnessed the onslaught of social media posts that read "Me too" in reference to those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. Genuinely, I would be shocked if you haven't been, as well.
While sexual assault is an actual physical violation that likely will forever scar the victim, harassment is so rampant that it's normalized. Hell, *I* have normalized it. If I were to let myself get all up in a tizzy every time a man relentlessly cat called me, every time a man licked his lips at me, every time I got a honk followed with "where you going, baby?!", I wouldn't have any time left for happiness. I've begun to shrug it off as normal. I roll my eyes, occasionally flip the bird, and don't make eye contact.
I've experimented with my outfits, I've experimented with my reactions, I've experimented with my body language as I'm walking. None of it makes a difference, the harassment continues, and I'm feeling really embarrassed that I even toyed with the idea that I should be doing something different to avoid the harassment.
With the rise of feminism, I'm happy to say that the US population, especially women, has become more vocal about harassment and assault. People are coming forward more than ever before saying, "Me, too. And it's NOT fucking ok!" Victims are finally beginning to say "It is NOT my fault." Though, society isn't fully on board with that just yet.
Questions are still being asked following a proclamation of sexual assault. Questions like "But did you see how she was dressed?!", "What did she think was going to happen going up to his hotel room for a business meeting?!", and "She should have been more in control of her body and not drank so much." NO. NOT OK.
"Why did you wait so long to report it?!" Is a question I hear so often when women wait years...often until another woman speaks up about the same individual, before making it publicly known that she was assaulted. I was one of them. Years. And it was a common story. Young girl, older boy, often in a place or situation I shouldn't have been in. I didn't speak up until years later when the rapist resurfaced and began stalking me and threatening me again and I was so terrified that he would get to me, that I finally reported it. Yet I was still asked by people close to me, by law enforcement..."Why are you just now reporting this?". EMBARRASSMENT. SELF BLAME. FEAR OF JUDGEMENT, AND THE FACT THAT I NEVER EVER EVER WANTED TO VOCALIZE THE DETAILS OF MY ASSAULTS. That's why.
When I went public with my story several months ago to raise awareness for young women who have been raped, abused, neglected, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support....and also not at all surprised to hear so, SO many people tell me that it has happened to them as well. It's absolutely sickening.
Almost 20 years after my assaults, I've made my peace (with a side of "mad as hell") and have found my happiness. My husband has restored my belief that there are still good men out there.
We have voices and need to be heard. If we stop normalizing this behavior, maybe this behavior will stop. If we start calling out the pigs, maybe he pigs will disappear. At the very least, making ourselves heard is giving permission to other victims that it's important to speak up.
My choice in career should come as no surprise to those who are closest to me. I continue to help women reconnect (or maybe connect for the first time) with their bodies, to claim their body as their own, to claim their sexuality as their own.
And that is why my narrative at Kara Marie Boudoir is do it for yourself. Do it for you! Own your own body, own your sexuality.
Sure, you can gift a book of images to your partner and they will love them. But the experience...that's for you. The moment that you lose your breath while sitting with me at your photo reveal appointment....that's for YOU. The strong, proud, badass feeling you get when you see your favorite image on your bedroom wall every day...THAT IS FOR YOU. No one can take that from you. And if they try, we can call them out on it. We WILL call them out. I stand with you.
It is more than OK to love yourself...it's necessary. The more we love and respect ourselves, the more we will call out these unacceptable behaviors that pollute our society.
YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE OF...
NOBODY deserves to take those choices from you. NOBODY deserves that kind of power over you...but yourself.
And call out all the assholes that don't.
I love you all so much, thank you so much for all of the support. Know that I'm here for you and will continue to be a voice against those who try to take your power from you.