Feminist Writing. Fourth Wave. For Women.

Why sexed spaces enrich my life

Why sexed spaces enrich my life
Photo by Louis Galvez / Unsplash

I have no safe spaces. Whether I’m out in public or cowering in my bedroom, I never feel safe. Some places are way more terrifying than others, crowded mixed-sexed public places put my mental Illness into overdrive. It’s very overwhelming and exhausting to be in survival mode 24/7, so I take solace in safer spaces. I’ll keep it blunt: I am terrified of members of the male sex. Even being near them puts me in survival mode. Does that sound irrational? Sure. Am I the only one who experiences this? No. My therapist told me over and over again that it’s not my fault that I got repetitively sexually abused as a toddler by a male tenant. I never told anyone because I am a good obedient girl who promised I’d never tell anyone about the “game” we played, unrelated to that, my mom would say that I should be quiet and always obey the other male abusers I live with. Why did I have to enable the behaviour of a man who beat me and gave my mom a black eye… why did my mom lie to everyone about the truth about her black eye. Men are... strong, stronger than women. Even thinking about these childhood memories brings me back to how it felt back then, to feel a powerful grip on my arm or the sting of a red handprint on my back, I can practically still feel the burn of rope around my neck tightening as he laughed, the painful tingle of my trachea being closed (apparently he did it as a joke). Thinking about (even somehow being reminded of) the “game” the tenant used to play with me always brings back the memories of what he made me do, I can feel it still if I ever get reminded of it, the pressure on my tongue, It makes me want to scrub myself, my tongue, everywhere he touched me, with soap until my skin rubs raw. The only ones with an inkling of sympathy were always fellow members of the female sex, my mom was there to comfort me when the men in my family hurt me. Of course, she’d never do anything to stop it but she’d try to protect us, she got the black eye while protecting my big sister by taking the hit that was coming toward my sister who dared to get a post-secondary education. I went to school with the tenant that touched me, I’d see him in the hallways at high school and I’d turn into an anxious mess especially when we made awkward eye contact… I was never safe, never felt safe and never could be, and while there are no laws at home there were at least rules in public. Sure, I could not answer who would bring justice for me, some brown little Muslim girl that lives in the ghetto if I said the white boy in the basement assaulted me, 'cause like, He’s a white male, he has a whole future in front of him and this “accident” shouldn’t take that all away from him and ruin his life, right (even if he ruined mine)? That’s always the narrative, it's even successfully used against white girls which is messed up so there’s no way in hell I’m gonna put a target on my back like that. Not like I trusted anyone else anyway, much less any figure of authority/government, But if I could trust the law for anything, it was the sex-based laws I could piggyback on for safety. While I have a weirdly marginalized identity, the female sex consists of half the population. At least I had that right to access female-only spaces like restrooms and take solace in them. I kinda hate most public restrooms for obvious reasons but that was one of the main benefits, it was women-only. Girls understand the sex-based oppression I go through because they face sex-based oppression too. We can talk about these things and our biological realities (our bodies are different from men) because we have that in common. I used to be comfortable fixing my hijab in there, Islam has sex-based rules and because I'm a teenager right now I can’t (and don’t want to, thank you very much, I do this by my own will and I’m happy that I do) show my hair to anyone of the male sex. No, I am not oppressed by Islam, I wear a hijab cause I like to and want to, forcing us to take it off is quite oppressive tho. Females can see my hair and everything, but not males, I’d use the safety of the washroom being female-only… but now I can’t do that… in fact, I’m scared of public bathrooms now (I rarely drink water and will always try my best to only use the bathroom at home if need be, that too when no one is nearby), it's not “women only” anymore so I can’t fix my hijab there (not to mention, post-secondary school dorms and women’s shelters too), there are male-bodied individuals there. Male-bodied individuals can self-id in, which is a loophole that predatory men will DEFINITELY take advantage of. Trans-identifying males should have safe spaces but why should it be at our expense…? Why is a privileged belief/luxury ideology destroying hard-won women’s rights? We’re all more alert and scared as women because of it, if it stops being a law maybe butch lesbians wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire, and there’d be less risk of someone putting cameras to spy or harassment in changing rooms. There is also the rape and impregnation of female inmates by males in Women’s prisons (why do women in first world countries have less rights than literal prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention?) and all the other stuff caused by this mess. What happened to having balance in society? what happened to making compromises/finding a balance to accommodate for everyone's needs? Why is the world full of extremists/authoritations (what happened to individual freedoms)? I’ve always wanted to learn how to swim and maybe play sports in a team, but now I totally can't because I don’t want to risk bodily harm or seeing male genitalia in the changing room, it’s super distressing. You can’t reverse the advantages male puberty gives to one’s body. The fact that there are no longer women-only sports stresses me out. Men have biological traits that give them a physical advantage over women, we are male and female down to our bones, and we can correctly sex skeletons centuries after they died. Women and men have different pelvises, women are wider and visibly capable of giving birth, our thigh bones meet at the joints at a different angle than males do (which affects our performance, though blesses us with flexibility), women's hearts are smaller and we have fewer red blood cells than the average male. I feel so hopeless being born into the position I’m in, I cannot change my sex and opt out of all this sex-based oppression. I’m glad my mom and dad immigrated away from their home country that does FGM, female infanticide (it’s illegal to say if the baby is a boy or a girl before it’s born because they kill it If it’s a girl… not that it stops them after it’s born but still) and is sexist, I and my sisters and my girl cousins had a big sleepover for the first time last, last December and they were all talking about our shared sex-based experiences, of how parents coddle the boys but forced us to do housework ever since we were elementary-schoolers, how they’re extra restrictive on girls and how we all have to go in the kitchen and make food to open our fasts while the men just sit in the living room and wait to be served. I was amazed that something like this was possible, having a female-only space and getting to have these shunned discussions and shared info… it wasn’t even that long ago it was not too long after the covid lockdown but it made me want sex-only spaces, even more, I had never felt so understood and comfortable ever before in my life (we even got to wear pajamas and stuff), I wasn’t able to experience a true female-only space until then because I was born after 2000 and that’s when they started abolishing female rights and erasing the material reality of women like me in favour of catering to the feelings of privileged people. I don’t play the stupid oppression Olympic Games… but no one ever listens to us, we can’t talk in the first place but even if we beg and cry no one cares, I’m not even allowed to advocate for myself and I’m so scared to cause I’ll be killed and doxxed and stuff. This stuff affects the most vulnerable people in society, from the disabled old women requesting female-only care to gender non-conforming children. If there really was a Truly female-only place I could run away to, I’d go in a heartbeat. I still live in this house with people, especially males, that have hurt me, the backyard is still the same too so I don't go there anymore. I feel guilty sometimes for being in girls' spaces. After all, I don’t want to make people uncomfortable because I’m sapphic but then again we’re all women whether we’re coloured, believe in God or not, have short or long hair, or whatever like that because we were born in this female body, if you’re a woman (adult female human) then you’re a woman and that's that, women can understand sex-based oppression because they experience it too, whether they’re into men or other girls or both, and it’s because we’re all women that I feel safe with women, can speak up and get advice from women because we all know we have to jump through extra hoops if we want to live. When I say I don’t want a biological male in the female sex only bathroom I’m advocating for my most basic sex-based human rights that are statistically necessary Because males are statistically more violent/ridiculously likely perpetrators of sexual assault. If a woman rapes me I won’t get pregnant, if a man rapes me that chance is there, plus they have the physical advantages of being in a male body strength-wise and all that. Female abuse survivors are too traumatized to be comfortable/near male-bodied individuals, so why not make a unisex bathroom/shelter and leave female-sex-only bathrooms/shelters alone? Why not make single stall spaces for those small minority that can’t use the bathroom of their biological sex (biological sex doesn’t change. Half of the human population is female, does half the human population not deserve safe spaces? why take away our basic rights? If it was truly that easy to change sex I don’t think the female child prostitutes, girls dying in menstrual huts, or victims of female infanticide would have chosen to be female, it’s a biological reality. Men always speak over us and not we can’t even communicate with each other without a looming threat over us, I didn't even know a female-only app existed (Sall Grover’s app Giggle) but last March I joined it because it would be like the sleepover and it really was, I felt safe there and I learned stuff about being a woman like hygiene stuff that I never knew before cause my mom always treated female bodies like something that wasn't normal and needed to be hidden for the comfort of my male family members (I don't blame her because she is suffering too and it's not fair that either of us has to do this). But I learned some basic female hygiene and everything! TRAs kept infiltrating with their big egos and delusions of moral superiority but the giggle team worked fast, also I hate how TRAs tokenize/use WOC, LGB, intersex, and infertile people as shields for their ideology when they’re literally hurting us. Like do you know how racist it is that they compare black women to males? I could go on and on but I’ll stop here to stay on topic. Thank you so much for reading this if you did.

Enter your email below to sign in or become a 4W member and join the conversation.
(Already did this? Try refreshing the page!)