When a person is victimized, the abuser doesn’t just leave behind injuries or bad memories. It is the goal of the victimizer to take your worth with them.
Victimizers of women, like a patriarchal society or a specific person, rely on women agonizing over the softness of their armpits. They prey on the idea that women worry they aren’t as good at their job as any man would be. Women devoting their precious time and energy — which they can never get back — to what’s wrong with themselves is a shortcut to an abuser’s ability to exercise and maintain their power and systems.
How do they accomplish this?
TW: Here are just a few graphic examples of my experiences, excluding everything from ages 2-19: http://michaela.io/yesallwomen/
I have been victimized nearly my entire life by many different men and a few women¹. If I am the common thread here, it would be tempting to think that there’s something wrong with me. That there’s something about me that brings out the abusive nature in people. I believed this for a long time. Obviously, it’s not true. I’m amazing.
Our very existence confirms our worth. The reality is that a woman’s worth is taken slowly, beginning in her youth, and continues over the course of her life. Even without rape or assault, the zeitgeist is such that women are weak and incapable, men are strong and git er done.
My worth was taken from me through rape. My worth was taken from me through advertisement. My worth was taken from me through “So do you actually, like, write code???”. And each time it was taken, because I had no voice to ever tell me that this was wrong, I internalized their message. It made it easier for someone to take a little more next time. These acts strengthen a subconscious belief that I am worthless; that I deserve it; that I should be grateful that anyone is willing to come near me at all².
Most everyone can detect a worth starvation in another human being. Abusers see it as an opportunity to exert and perpetuate their power.
I know my worth. No one can take it from me or convince me I don’t have it. If they could, there would be no such thing as repeat offenders. And to those littlin boos reading this, I know your worth, too. And I will fucking fight to my last breath to protect your worth. This is wrong. You do not deserve it.
And, yes, it happens to all women.
¹ It should be noted that these acts by women were all consequences of internalized sexism.
² I have had two boyfriends tell me that I am unattractive and unintelligent and that I should feel lucky that they settled for me.