Raised to Hate Me

I’ve been thinking about some of the women I idolize, and the ones I look down at. I love Beyoncé, but, I’m not a fan of Britney Spears, and there were times when I looked askance at Madonna.

As I was just scrubbing my floor, (the most humbling, insightful thoughts come when I’m on my knees scraping gunk off my kitchen floor) I started to wonder about it – what was it I didn’t like about one and loved about the other? Now, part of it is voice. I like Beyoncé’s voice better than Britney’s. But, it’s more than that.

I never liked the baby-doll persona of Britney, and when I was critical of Madonna, it had to do with her sexuality, her open disregard for sexual mores, etc. But, Beyoncé is no nun. So why is she brave and why are they not?

I think it’s partly because Britney and Madonna remind me of myself – and I don’t like myself much. I’m also uncomfortable with someone like me – white and female – seeming to enjoy sex, publicly. But, I don’t bat an eye when Aerosmith sings about going down in an elevator.

You see, when I was four, my dad molested me. I don’t remember it. He confessed and asked for forgiveness. At first, I didn’t believe him. Then I had confirmation from family members and I started to have a brief, troubling memory of a hand, reaching for me. In my child-like brain, it was the devil’s hand, and I remember being terrified.

That same year, at Christmas, I had my spirit broken, I have been told. Through a long ordeal, I was forced to touch a doll that I was afraid of, one that my grandmother had made. I learned not to have any opinions about anything. To this day, I have the worst time deciding.

So, when I see women who remind me of myself, my damaged ideas about sex squirm inside of me and make me uncomfortable. Maybe realizing this is helpful for my healing. I’m not sure. But, I know that it’s better to reason things out then to just let them creep along, hidden within me.

As girls, so many of us have been raised to fear sex, to be victimized by it, to be prim and proper. Boys are raised to believe they cannot resist sex. That’s an equation for a lot of pain all the way around. My dad hated himself all his life. And, he passed on to me the feelings of self-loathing that he had.

It is the hardest wound to heal. But, I don’t believe it’s impossible. I may not ever be completely whole (this side of the Heaven that I long for) – but, I can get close, I think.

I once talked to a 92-year-old woman who grew up in Italy. She was confined to her bed in a nursing home. I had come to visit a lady from my church and I had a pin on that designated that I was affiliated with a church. The lady asked me to listen to her and I did. I can still see her face, with pools of tears sitting in her eyes as she lay there and bared her soul. An evil priest had molested her and her brothers. She told me all of the horrible things this man had done to her, from childhood into adulthood and said that her brothers and she had struggled with having faith in God because of how they were treated and abused by a representative of divinity. It broke my heart. I completely understood the struggle with God. I’ve been there in my own way. All I could do was bend down to hug her, a fellow victim, and say, “God is not happy with what happened to you. God loves you and hates what that man did to you. One day, he will pay for it.”

I keep thinking of how this beautiful lady’s life was wrecked by another person, and the wounds were still fresh at 92. It’s no wonder so many women have said, “Enough!” and joined the #MeToo Movement. We have to stick together and lift each other’s burdens. So, rather than me looking down on any woman for any creative expression, I need to lift them up.  Because, if I go with my gut, and personal experiences of almost every woman I know, I realize that Britney, Madonna and Beyoncé have probably suffered their own pains and wounds. And, if they remind me of myself, maybe I should cut them, and me, some slack. We’re part of this crazy world, where real love and kindness are very rare. May we all be kind to ourselves. May we all be kind to each other.

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