As a child (4-10), I was sexually assaulted more than a few times. When I sought to gain control of that as a teen, it lead me into a series of “relationships” with older men who used me for sex. At the time I thought this was what I wanted, but I couldn’t understand why I felt so guilty and used after it.
I was raised as a Christian (and even though I am not a Christian and have no desire to be), I thought this was just that afterglow of guilt that someone else imprinted on me. In my mind, my true feelings were that having all this sex was liberating. Or were those my true feelings?
I developed breasts at 8. I had a b cup in like the 3rd grade. I was tall, about 5’4 by the time I was in 4th grade. This seemed to intrigue everyone, most of all myself. When I went to the store men gave me free things, they called me pretty. People who never looked at me before started to look longer than ever. I thought this made me a woman, because this is how men saw me.
I can remember one time when a man showed me kindness. He called me over because he thought I was old enough to talk to based on my body. I might have been 13 at the time, he had to be about 30-32. But this time, he looked me in my face and he said.. “No, no you’re much too young. I’m sorry. I thought you were a woman.”
At the time this made me angry. I was used to being treated like a woman. But wherever this man is now, I want to thank him. Thank you for not doing to me what every other man in my life (who was not in my family), had done. Thank you for not overlooking my age and deciding that I really wanted something that other people through years of abuse had primed me to think that I wanted.
I didn’t realize that the things I was choosing were largely because they had been chosen for me. They were a way to deal with my pain, hurt and anger by deciding that if I was going to be used it would be based on my rules. Yet, this isn’t how it works out at all, because the rules were not my own. The rules were construction by adults and in my child-mind to be more adult I needed to live by adult rules. It just so happens these adults were predators.
It’s a way that people without knowing that they are doing it, coerce you into agreeing to your own abuse. They try to make you feel power, like you are controlling it. You don’t want this to happen. You don’t want it to be done to you. But you’re saying, well if it does happen at least I will be in control. I will get paid, I will have money, I’m already doing it, why not get paid? The after effect is when you think back and remember all of these acts, you wonder why you did any of them. You wonder what compelled you. And all you’re left with is “I wanted to do it.” But I would almost never ask why I wanted to.
This is where my connection to porn first got deeper. In the videos, it is understood that women want to be there, that they are choosing to be there, and that they’re getting paid to be there. It’s that same misguided idea that they are in control. That because they’re talking dirty, smiling, and acting as if they are in control, then they really want it.
There weren’t many women I’d read about or seen who were in control of their sexuality in this way. The only people I could think of were in porn.
And there was the time that a man actually asked me to be in porn when I was 16. He said it would be sold outside of America and no one would ever see me. I thought about it heavily because I thought it would give me a chance to be like the predominantly white women I had seen in porn with their own websites, money, doing interviews, traveling around talking unabashedly about sex.
I soon realized from talking to him more that as a woman of color that wouldn’t be what was in store for me. I was a fetish, an exotic and sometimes terrifying sexual object, that means there would be an even more degrading path. It would involve my skin color being a prime reason for my treatment (in the opposite way that many people think about white vanilla porn). It would mean that I was a ho, a ghetto gagger, a black bitch, a rude black cunt who was thirsty for cum!
I decided not to do that. That was like the moment that snatched me out of the illusion, that in porn I could be equal. Racism is a driving factor in porn. But I was 16 and convinced that even if that was how someone was asking me to make it, it didn’t mean it was the same way for other people in porn. By compartmentalizing like this, porn became a safe avenue again to express sexuality and to watch “powerful” women do what I thought I loved (have sex)!
But I didn’t love it. I didn’t love how it made me feel afterwards. I didn’t love the fact that I would often zone out while it was happening to me. I had convinced myself that this was the gauntlet I had to run through in order to actually love sex. You just keep fucking it until it doesn’t matter, until the shame is gone, until the fear is gone, until the hurt is gone. But it never really goes away, no matter how dull it gets, until you have the time to learn and unlearn a new way to view yourself and the people around you.
So when people say it’s all about choice. That’s the choice I made based on years of abuse, pain and fear. I chose that women in pornography were role models because they were “powerful”, they had their own “agency”. I made that choice without a fully informed context. How much are our choices worth when the foundations they start out on are so fucking shaky?