The first time I’ve heard of this statement is during our Journalism class back in college. It was my favorite subject and our topic was how the media uses sex to catch the audiences’ attention. With all the controversies unraveling today which involves powerful and influential people/community like Uber, Silicon Valley, our own president, and the most recent and loudest harassment cases filed against Harvey Weinstein, made me start questioning my sexuality. How far will I go for fame and success?
Growing up, I’ve always been the odd one because of my prominent mestiza features and how early my breasts developed. I easily became a target for boys who wanted to take advantage of me in high school. And since I was raised in a broken family, I used to have this void in my life that made me feel like I needed those kind of attention from men. I believed that because of my outward appearance, I can win everything or anyone. Oh, just imagine what names other girls called me that time.
And when people started noticing me, it somehow planted this idea in my head that I should pursue a career in modeling, acting, or enter beauty pageants. This quickly distorted my mentality about femininity. For a while back I tried pursuing a career in modeling thinking that will be my ticket in becoming rich, famous, and powerful.
The idea of being on billboards or television didn’t stop there. When I had my first child, I would get suggestions like I should have my kid go to modeling agencies or I should expose my kid to places where she can be discovered and become a child star. I kid you not, I didn’t waste time and had my daughter go to a casting call and forced her to smile, act, and say lines in front of the camera. She didn’t do any of those and just cried. I know for sure she wasn’t comfortable. I felt like I exploited her because again, I thought being a celebrity is what it takes for people to take you seriously. I know my daughter is beautiful and the world knows it but do I really needed to put her in a position where she might have lost her self worth?
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to belittle models, actors or performers. If it’s the profession you would like to pursue, by all means, go for it. But never ever sell your morality in exchange of money and power. Some people would strip their clothes to get noticed or some will sleep with their boss just to get the lead role, and it’s something I will never be okay with.
Later on in life, I was exposed in the entertainment industry. I worked on promoting foreign and local musicians, making sure their songs are being played across all radio stations nationwide and their albums are being featured in print media. What most people don’t know is that not all radio stations will play your songs given the genre and the market of the artist. So people in my field are encouraged to use their charm and do a little flirting with the guys over the station just so we can “establish” a relationship with them and that they will prioritize our requests. I remember one time as I entered the radio booth, this DJ, out loud, made a malicious comment about my breasts. But because I know or should I say I was made to believe that it’s part of my job, I quickly dismissed the incident by smiling at him and go on with my day. Or how about those days that I’d be okay with my artists or their managers tell green jokes about me thinking I’m one of the boys but really, I know what they wanted deep inside and that if I give out even just a tiny bit of signal, they wouldn’t let that opportunity pass.
After a year of staying in that environment, I landed a job in the gaming industry where I worked in the events department. And as I sat on the registration in one of our parties, I got the most terrifying comment I have ever heard in my life from an old disgusting man: are you part of the prize? can I take you home? Yet again, it’s like my ears are numb and that I didn’t care what they say anymore. I am just here and I am just doing what I was told to do. My colleagues and I would just laugh at those moments and move on but isn’t this the exact reason why Hollywood is facing such scandal right now? When we ignore issues like this or pretend it isn’t a big deal, aren’t we being promoters of sexual harassment? This is where I started questioning my morals. There was a battle between spirit and flesh. Deep inside me I wanted the attention, but in reality I was degrading myself.
I have to give it to my friend Ingrid who confronted a man who cat called her. She lectured the man about how he should respect women. I don’t think I am bold enough to do what she did but I think it’s time that we learn from her. I think it’s time that we break our silence just like what they’re doing in Hollywood.
Take it from Lady Gaga in her new documentary on Netflix: Five Foot Two as she opened up about being a victim of sexism in the music industry. As a woman, I felt her agony. It was like we will never be seen as talented and intelligent creatures without a man taking advantage of our sexuality. If we are not willing to show skin we wouldn’t reach greater heights in this life.
“When producers — unlike Mark — start to act like, ‘you’d be nothing without me,’ for women especially, since those men have so much power, they can have women in a way that no other men can,” the singer explains. “And then I walk in the room, and it’s like eight times out of 10, I’m put in that category, and they expect from me what those girls have to offer, when that’s just not at all what I have to offer. That’s not what I’m here for.”
“The methodology that I used to get out of that category was when they wanted me to be sexy or they wanted me to be pop I always put some fucking absurd spin on it that made me feel like I was still in control,” she continues. “If I’m gonna be sexy at the VMAs singing about the paparazzi I’m gonna do it while cleaning the bathroom and reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe.” Source: Rolling Stone
And these things doesn’t just happen in the workplace. Just a couple of months ago when I started volunteering as an usher in our church greeting people as they enter the lobby, an old man with a big smile came a little closer to me and whispered, You are so beautiful. I know some of you would justify this experience as innocent since I was at church and that he probably just meant it as a compliment. But the way he said it, the fact that he is an inch away from my face made me feel uneasy. (Okay I am not saying that I am the most beautiful woman in the world because I am not! This is me writing about the dark truth not most are able to express.)
When I discussed this issue with my husband, it suddenly dawned on him that he used to have a Harvey Weinstein in him too. Early on in our relationship, he would ask me to wear revealing clothes and high heels to flaunt my “assets” as this would spice things up a little bit. Given my background in my younger years, I once again questioned my self worth. There are times that I would be coerced to do it just to prove that I am submitting to authority but this isn’t what submission should mean. A marriage shouldn’t be defined by sex. As a result, I would most of the time dread the idea of making love to my husband. But by God’s grace, I had the courage to tell him that I feel violated and insulted by his character and how he sees me as his wife. That I am not only here to feed his pleasure and that I am in no way an inferior character made merely to serve him, but I am his spiritual counterpart, his intellectual coequal, and in every sense his perfect mate and companion. From that day on, he became sensitive and has shown me respect in all aspects of our relationship.
This Weinstein issue brought all these horrifying memories come back to haunt me but it also made me grow balls to be able to share this with you. I felt in my heart that I need to speak for the minority who would rather keep mum about this vicious issue we are facing today. It can’t be just me who have caught men staring at my breasts instead of my face when I talk to them. I didn’t fight because we were told it’s normal for men to harass because of their nature. For as long as it isn’t rape, it’s not serious. There was a time that I hated myself for my appearance. I felt like I was cursed and I got pretty paranoid every time I would go out alone. Our entire generation was brainwashed in the thinking that it’s our fault why we are being assaulted like this. It’s not your fault that God gave you a pretty face, big breasts, and long legs.
Mike told me that by writing this, I’ll be actually doing my young daughter a favor. I know I cannot shield here from this dark reality. I’m not even sure if I can keep her from the same experience I had but I promise to educate her and provide her a safe and healthy environment where she can always run to. Her daddy and I will make sure to raise her up knowing how to fight for her right as a woman that more than her body, she has a beautiful mind, heart, and soul.
True feminine beauty is not about external adornment, “arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel”; real beauty is seen instead in “the hidden person of the heart…the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1Peter 3:3-4)
Woman, there are so much things that you can offer in this life. Don’t ever think any less of yourself.
As for my need of attention, rest assured that I no longer live in my past. Those were the days in my life that I am not very proud and I thank the Lord for giving me a husband who accepted me, understood me and who is helping me heal from the wounds of my past. It was comforting to know that I have someone who will do everything in his power to protect me and every night I lay feeling safe and secure in his loving arms.
This story is not meant as an attack to my previous employers. I have nothing but respect for them and their craft. This is just my personal account of how I was treated as a woman and I want this story to serve as an inspiration to all the ladies who have suffered and who are still suffering from sexism and/or sexual harassment all around the globe. Tell your story because #METOO.