Emma: thank you so much for sharing this story.
It has been a beautiful embodiment of so many personal issues for so many people near and dear to me. My heart creaks and groans with compassion for the billions affected.
It also resonated deeply with me as a man who experienced sexual abuse as a young boy, and this particular piece hit me so deeply:
It’s very particular sensation, but hard to describe — for me, it’s almost like nausea mixed with sadness and shock. I cried the first few times I felt it, but it soon became so common that I started numbing myself to it. By the time I was in high school, I was already fairly numb.
I spent years just convinced I was probably just going to be asexual and wondered deeply why I had no desire to be sexual with anyone, why I had felt so ill when just thinking about the idea — especially the idea of breaking up came into play, the idea of having those experiences I so deeply guarded occur, then just left aside and letting the emotions tied to it fade — much like how experiences were stolen from me as an 8-year-old by someone who just casually moved on afterwards (though of course, I understand it is not the same thing now, but it terrified me still).
So, I wish to thank you for putting words to a feeling and gut reaction that I still experience from time to time (especially pertinent now when starting antidepressants and once again feeling as if my ability to experience anything sexually has been taken by physiology).
But, to address your ‘imperfection’:
I don’t believe at all that this was an issue, not one bit. I clearly saw your point in writing the article — to address issues that you notice that you and all women face and experience in unjustly disproportionate ways. And for the issue to resonate with me as a man who has been sexually abused by another man did not cause any dissonance with me that would detract from your article.
This is illustrative of the fact that the violence that women face are issues for all of humanity. I could clearly see how the issue of men assaulting young boys is also a problem of men who are comfortable in their position of power and imposition of will over others, created by the patriarchy.
In any case, I also had no issue with the logical statement of “but I don’t see women who don’t experience violence”. It does not include any implication that men are not subjected to violence, and it is also a perfectly just thing to say — I believe a true assessment of the current situation.
Furthermore, I believe that to address and infer the issue of violence towards men from this statement also unfairly detracts from the issue at hand. Violence towards men must be addressed, but your article and story is, as I see it, not the right avenue for it; a consequence merely of experience and context. I also firmly believe that the consequences of the sharing of your story and realizations will be far-reaching, with awareness and compassion extended to men as well as women.
Once again, I thank you for this piece. With deep gratitude,