It’s been nineteen years since I witnessed the first physical altercation between a man and a woman. Mom and my brother’s dad. Fifteen years since I saw my brother choke one of Mom’s temporary husbands because of yet another domestic dispute. Five years since I, myself, was incarcerated for domestic violence because that boy I used to be married to called me a “slut” for wearing pants. Two and a half years since I was betrayed by him and a bitch at his job who stated he was a “good man.” Fourteen months since my messy divorce ended. And, four months since I saw him parading around the local mosque like an idiot, putting on a show for my family.
I counted in the dark last night before I drifted off to sleep.
“Men are trash,” I said to my two closest friends.
The phrase that I’ve been living by for the last year. I mean, I knew they were trash before, but I just couldn’t openly say it since I was married and all.
“I don’t think you should make ‘all men’ statements,” she said. “That’s just not the case since you haven’t met ‘all’ men.”
I rolled my eyes. I mean, I do hate “all” statements because it’s just not possibly true. Buuuuuut, humans make assumptions and have valid reasons of feeling how they feel from past experiences. And, you can’t invalidate someone’s experience, even if it’s far-fetched. All you can do, really, is redirect.
You know how when you’re doing or saying something it doesn’t seem that bad? I don’t trash men as bad on the internet as I do in person. Like, if I’m chilling with my friends, I will go into my “trash men mode.” Why? Because it’s relevant and they do it sooooo much. Trump grabbing em by the “P”; girls overseas being forced to marry old men; female genital mutilation; sex-trafficking in my home state of Michigan.
Every time I see a #MeToo post or hear a story about yet another executive pulling his little tallywhacker out and waving it at a young actress, or witness a hyper masculine douchebag trolling a sexual assault victim on Facebook, it really traumatizes me.
As a woman, I am traumatized by men. To be truthful, I’ve been traumatized by them since I was a little girl. Men scare me. Even now. They could hit me in the face or rape me or pretend they love me then drop me for another girl…or guy. Shit, I don’t know.
I witnessed my first domestic violence fight at the tender age of six. It’s one of my earliest memories actually. I remember just standing there, watching as Mom tossed a computer at him and my brother’s father hitting her. Neither of them cared that I was there. Maybe I had become a fixture in their fucked-up world. What kills me now just thinking about it was that I never screamed or ran away or hid. I just stood there as if two adults throwing blows was a normal, everyday occurrence.
Mom had mental issue – which didn’t help in her male selection process. We saw most of the dysfunction, if not all of it. In our home, men were disposable. If she didn’t like how they were, then she’d get rid of them and add another to the list. Mom was married about seven times before I’d turned seventeen, and I’m being modest by not including boyfriends or fiancées.
Mom taught her girls, in a nutshell, that men only wanted your body, they only wanted babies, and to use you. We were taught to never, ever depend on them. Never tell them your finances, keep a secret savings because they weren’t to be trusted. Mom never trusted men. And, neither do I.
I’ve become her when I really never wanted to. Deep. I know.
I got married young because I loved him, I thought I could change him, and I was Muslim and hadn’t wanted to sin anymore. I wanted to be a good Muslim girl in the eyes of God.
He brought the worst out of me. He also brought the best, too. Unfortunately, he brought more of the worst than the best.
At first, I didn’t trust him. Slowly, I started to. Then I let go and trusted him wholeheartedly. It took a while, but I’d done it. Growing up the way I had, I never thought it was possible. Then he betrayed that trust, and I reverted back to my old ways. Just like that.
And like an idiot, to curb my pain, I entered the dating scene right after the divorce. Bumble. Tinder. Plenty of Fish. You name it. Trying to flex the muscle that hadn’t been flexed in over a decade. Bad idea! What I needed was time. Time to heal.
I got messages from randoms asking me to “sit on their faces,” propositioning me for threesomes, and polyamorous relationships. I’ve had White men objectify me, commenting on the thickness of my lips and thighs – how they’ve never been with a Black chick. I’ve had men fetishize my hijab, body-shame me, tell me how intimidating I am because I have two masters and that I might be “too smart” for them.
“I’m a feminist,” I told one dude, while on a date.
“So, you must hate men, then.”
“I do now…” I replied, in my head.
Another guy told me that I hated men. I think he high-key wanted to call me bitter. And, that’s fine. If the shoe fits, right? Maybe it is me. Maybe I attract shit dudes because I’m a shit person.
“Maybe you should switch teams,” one friend suggested.
I cringed. “I’m not touching boobs.”
My other friend, who happened to be gay said, “Actually, same-sex relationships have many of the same problems as hetero relationships do.”
“Fuck,” I said. “Then it’s back to being asexual.”
And, who knows, maybe one day I will trust a dude again. Maybe all men aren’t trash… I’ve just come across some trashy ones.
Photos Courtesy of Eric Puschak