Damaged Goods

“Remember. Your husband will respect you only if you’re a virgin” said my dad, minutes before my flight attendant calls out passengers to my then-scheduled flight to Osaka, Japan.

July 17 2017. I’ve just turned 18.

Now I’m 21, living alone in the big-ever-so-lonely city of Tokyo writing an article/rant about “something-I-should’ve-gotten-over-by-now!” while being slightly drunk off Malibu beach. If someone has asked me if I was close to my mom and dad, the irony would be, that I was closest to the latter of whom I can’t stand being in one room with for more than 5 minutes.

“Menepuk air di dulang terpecik muka sendiri”

He would say.

“Don’t shame our family!”

He would yell out every time I walked out of the house.  There were never open discussions, just constant one-sided premonitions about how the world would never be on my side.

Virginity, sexuality, or violence has never been a foreign subject to me. I was introduced to this topic from the age of 12. At that age, my brother was playing games. On the other hand, I was conditioned to act and to accept the reality of how the world was going to treat me based on my biological sex.

I learned quick. Dad would never allow porn materials in the house. No shorts short. No tank tops. Don’t tempt men. The only accepted inappropriate material in the house was graphic newspaper clippings of the presumed “brutal fate” of being born female.

He’d read to me these clippings again and again. Word by word. From clothes to skin to blood. An appropriate evening story for a 12-year-old. In hopes to “warn me” to “keep me safe”. Because out there, “all men are dangerous”. And “all men will hurt you”. And the outcome is that “you’ll be the one to bear the shame, the wounds and the regrets”. Unexpectedly expectedly, the abuse I’ve suffered at home was the sole reason to why I’d prefer the “hurt” that these “strange men” would offer.

The first brush of violence I’ve experienced was in grade 6. If I had been a normal child I would experience it back as an accident between two children that didn’t know any better. But due to prolonged “education” of sexual violence, I had believed from that point on. I was, what he quoted, “damaged goods”.

Because out there, “All men are dangerous”, and “All men will hurt you”.

“You’ll be the one to bear the shame, the wounds and the regrets”.

Ironically, there was freedom in being “damaged goods”. Why bother with values anymore when you have no more? I bulldozed through them. I was unabashed. I resented my fate, I wanted compensation. Sigmund Freud would call this penis envy. I hated being born a girl. There was anger in my chest but this anger was misdirected. In high school, I went out with boys. I thought if I was among them that I would be held in the same position as them. Though, in later future, I’d be remembered once again that I was never the same as them. This distortion would go on for years.

At one point in my life, I felt powerful being validated by men.

Was it because I wanted to be desired? Or did I wanted to be understood?

Or maybe deep down inside in this ocean of people, I wanted to meet someone, I needed someone, so badly, to say that I wasn’t damaged, that I’m not dirty and that I deserved to be treated like a human being. Because I never had that validation from the first man I’ve ever met in my life. Some days I could stare at myself and says “I’m not ashamed”. Some days there are pins in my head and I couldn’t sleep.

And currently, while analysing the bottom of this Malibu bottle, with my money and anger spent. I’ve come to recognize that the 6-year-old poison hasn’t seeped away no matter how many layers of skins have grown on top of it.

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