When I was a little girl, I knew very early on, that I was different. At the time, I pinned it on my frizzy hair, my occasionally lazy eye and my pretty pronounced penguin walk. But there was an even deeper difference than the quirky physical attributes I had been graced with.
I was a girl.
Girls didn’t have voices back then, especially little Hispanic ones and so I was relegated to the back of the life classroom. I was raised in a world in which boys were treated differently and held the potential for something great. In my world, women made less than men and their only hopes of “making it” as my mother made explicitly clear were to marry a doctor or a lawyer. Add that to the disadvantage of being a little Puerto Rican girl in classrooms of all white teachers, who either picked on the white girls or the boys and rarely looked my way despite the obvious presence of my raised hand and my over-eagerness.
I felt invisible quite often.
I was a girl and implicit in that identification, I did not have a voice or right to say no… to say don’t touch me, leave me alone, you can’t do that to me, I have a right to my own body, my opinions, my own words.
A lot has changed since the 1960’s and 70’s but the truth is much has stayed the same. Little girls are still being violated and the stigma and wall of silence surrounding such atrocious acts, keeps the machine going.
It is in fact the “world’s” dirty little secret.
We violate our little girls. In some countries, they are groomed from an early age to be of service to men, in some we sell them, others we just take them and rape them over and over, while in more civilized nations we sneak into their little princess rooms and fondle them in the middle of the night.
There is great participation in this process even by those who are not directly violating them. This participation comes in the grand sweeping under the rug of what is really going on in our homes. It comes from broken women who encourage silence and thereby do not protect their children. often having been violated themselves and made adept at keeping such things secret. It comes in the form of those who do not believe us when we tell them our truth, those who want to minimize or avoid hearing about “it” at all. It comes from lawmakers and court systems who do not believe us, or put statute of limitations on bringing our perpetrators to justice. From those who do not understand the fear of telling, who cannot seem to grasp the terror and the time it takes to recover and speak the truth. It comes in the ole “get over it” reaction we get, as adult survivors of sexual abuse, by others who have never been through it or the ones who have and want so desperately to hide their own secrets and shame.
But most of all it comes from our global silence, apathy, and disregard for the preciousness of innocence and the value of the female body. We do not understand the ramifications of such violations upon humanity. We do not understand what it means when we repeatedly crush the human girl spirit and sexualize her.
Me Age 10-12, two years of sexualization by my grandfather
There is also a revolution, a girl power revolution, a women empowerment movement . Millions of us have spoken our truth whether it be in the quiet corners of our homes, in therapist offices, in sisterhoods, or out on the web or even on television.
We are less likely to remain silent these days.
We, in many ways, have come a long way.
Ironically our “dirty little secrets” often become the fuel for what we do as women in the world. It is as if millions of little girls, violated as children, grew up to stand for truth, honor and integrity. Many of us have become wounded healers, fierce protectors, women who stand for truth and justice. We have mothered more deeply than our mothers, we have loved and held compassion in ways we were never taught.
We have said, NO MORE. We have stood to protect other children, broken the barriers of what we were told we could not do, and took steps every day to move beyond our distorted beginnings and create a life full of love, joy, integrity, compassion and truth. We still weep, we feel less than at times, we wonder how we will ever recover from such a beginning, but deep down we are all warriors, carrying an immutable light. Our responsibility now is to shine that light, to be impeccable with our truth, to honor ourselves and to reclaim what was lost. This is our journey.
I am proud to be among you all. I am proud to call you my sisters.