QOBRTAY: Objectifying womens' bodies must stop
I threw on my sparkly blue turtleneck and ignored the itchiness I felt from its raspy clutches. I slipped into the black jumpsuit I’ve worn about a thousand times before, a favorite from a closet of carefully selected clothes I’ve accumulated over the years.
Although it may seem far too material for someone who tries to be anything, the wardrobe I’ve accumulated after two decades of a life across the world means everything to me, and fashion in general, is a hobby I’ve developed after years of admiring clothing.
I went to my internship feeling confident and ready to take on the day ahead. The mental to-do lists made their laps across the forefronts of my brain as I prepared for what was to come.
As soon as I entered the office I stepped into a million times before, I knew something was up. I looked at my shoes. Could I have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my boots?
Soon, my speculations were realized when one of my co-workers approached me. I do not remember exactly what he said to me on that fateful October day, but he ultimately implied that I should go home because I was dressed “too scandalously.”
Each syllable that came from his mouth felt like showers of bullets after an entire adolescence of acid rain. I am no stranger to objectification — but being in the workspace, hearing that from the individuals who were supposed to care about the work I did instead of the way my chest happened to fill a turtleneck, filled me with a sadness I had yet to experience.
I suppose I thought all of this was limited to my high school experience. Boys will be boys, right? Or that only boomers felt this way, and that the younger generations knew better than to sexualize their coworkers, because they knew their femme counterparts were worth more than their bodies. Right?
So very, very wrong.
I was going to go into detail about everything I wore that day to truly express the extent of my shock and utter betrayal at hearing this. But I have decided against it. It really shouldn’t matter what I was wearing. I did adhere to the dress code, but it just so happens that my body does not exactly look anything like the ones featured on high fashion runways.
Although most days I truly do not have a problem with the way I look, incidents like this reminds me that no matter what I do, people will not see me for anything besides the size of my waist.
I have called myself a feminist since the days in which the term was taboo. I remember being called a “feminazi” at thirteen and rolling my eyes when boys asked if I was a closeted lesbian. But I have to say I cried as I walked out of the office. I cried a lot.
I called all the women who I knew would be just as outraged as I was: my mother, my sister and my friends. They all encouraged me to say something, anything, to stop this from happening again. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I am so emotionally bankrupt on this subject — at least at the time I definitely was.
It is with renewed strength and a couple cups of coffees that I write this now, just when I least expected it to come pouring out of me. I don’t care if writing this makes me sound bitter. I don’t care if writing this will make me lose an opportunity.
I am exhausted of existing as some sex object, and I’m sure people everywhere feel the same, as this problem isn’t limited to me or just women. I want to be my words on this page, I want to be the smile after a long laugh. I want to be the anger I feel when something like this happens.
In a desperate final attempt to stop a lifetime of sexualization and an entire human record of horrible misconduct against women, I will scream this: Stop sexualizing my body.
Ameena Qobrtay is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in women’s and gender studies and journalism and media studies, and minoring in political science. ______________________________________________________________________
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