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🧶 who owns my body?
a repost from The Sex Beat, my newsletter about sex
This piece was published in Feb 2022 in The Sex Beat.
Last week’s piece on “mothers who like sex” led to some interesting conversations, which I will write more about when I’ve somewhat processed my thoughts.
But one question that these conversations led me to is this: Who does a woman’s body belong to?
It’s easy to say, “It belongs to herself.” But if your body is expanding and contracting, leaking and discharging, in unexpected and uncontrollable ways, does it still feel like you own your body?
This doesn’t just apply to pregnancy, but also puberty. I don’t know how men experience puberty – if anyone would like to enlighten me, I’d be happy to listen – but as a young girl going through it, I felt separated from my own body.
There was a new heaviness to my physique and I didn’t know how to carry its weight. It felt as if it happened overnight.
I went from a small, skinny child – often mistaken for a boy – to this gangly teen, awkwardly towering over most of the boys in my class. And suddenly, I was not allowed to whistle, or wrestle, or indiscriminately climb things anymore. Because that was not what girls were supposed to do.
In church, I learned that as a woman, I had to conceal my body to “protect my brothers-in Christ”. And so I learned that my body was powerful – but only on sexual terms – and that it wasn’t always my power to wield.
The body is a rascal
I write today’s issue with slightly swollen hands, typing away on my keyboard and trying to ignore the tightness of the skin around my knuckles.
I suspect it was the peanuts served as yesterday’s pre-dinner snack, or perhaps it was the mid-course prawn dish, but by the end of the night, I had to pop antihistamines.
The problem is that in spite of the medical tests I’ve done, I don’t know what’s causing these allergies. I’ve already mostly given up garlic and onions; what else do I have to forgo?
Is this yet another way I am being reminded that I don’t own my body? And if so, who does it belong to?
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This post was originally published in The Sex Beat, a newsletter where I explored sex and pornography through an academic lens. I’ve resumed my reading and research and I’m thinking about starting a new season of the newsletter. If of interest, feel free to subscribe!