We Belong to Ourselves
Men are not owed access to women’s bodies, no matter what. Men are not entitled to sex with women, no matter what. Men are not entitled to any woman’s body, affection, time, or conversation—no matter what. It does not matter who she is—a stranger on the street, the love of his life, an ex-girlfriend, or an ex-wife. Relationships—of any kind—do not automatically mean consent.
The consequences of privileged entitlement can be fatal. Women should be allowed to feel suspicious, to refuse, to exclude whomever from their personal space. Women do not owe anyone any chances. Why are entitled men so shocked by this? Women risk their bodies and breaths just speaking to men.
Responses have become so predictable. The ableism, The deflection, The horrifying normalization of misogyny…Anything to move the conversation away from the uncomfortable fact that on a systematic level, men regard women as belongings.
This situation should not be the norm. Yet every time a story of gendered violence crops up in the news, I hear women say, “I’m angry, but I’m not surprised.”
We don’t belong to anyone but ourselves. Our bodies are not responsible for the violence inflicted upon us. We prevail despite systemic and pervasive marginalization. We are not “prizes.” No one “deserves” us because that language is for objects, and we are not objects. Our humanity is not debatable. Our bodies are not up for grabs. We are not for the taking. We are not tempting violence by simply existing. The onus is not on us.