Dirty Whore


[Learn more about the column, “Women” by Negar Mohtashami Khojasteh]

I widen my eyes in shock and glee, the teacher explaining the nature of sex to the 5th Grade Class. I grin as I watch her face flush red. I don’t think she imagined she would be spending her time explaining the mechanisms of sex to a bunch of children. Still, as she stuttered and fell over her words, I was blown away at this whole new world she offered me. Living in Canada at the age of 8, I was emotionally broken over Taylor Swift’s Teardrops on My Guitar, a champion at Rockband, and the Queen of Pokemon Diamond on Nintendo DS. What did I know of kisses and sex, of discomfort and fear, of violence and rape?

I did not know how many ways a woman can be violated, how many methods there are to make her uncomfortable. In class we learned about love making, and where we came from. No child is infected with the horrors of reality in this world. Not until they are absolutely forced.

When I walked home that day, he followed me, muttering curse words I didn’t recognize and couldn’t know. I would only learn what a “dirty whore” meant later that week, huddled up with a group of my closest friends at recess in the cafeteria. In the month that followed, I learned all kinds of things. My best friend told me her mother had been raped not once, but twice. I had no idea what rape meant, but she told me in the way kids do when they know something you don’t; matter of fact, as if this was a part of life, in her know-it-all voice. I ran up to my teacher that day and asked her what it meant, what the word “rape” was; my precious, innocent ears had never encountered it before. She grimaced at me, and told me I didn’t need to know words like that, that it didn’t matter and I should forget it altogether. I persisted, strong-headed and naïve: “But my friend’s mom was raped a few times! They made sure she was unconscious when it happened though. Is it like getting a needle at the doctor’s office?”
***
I received messages online when I made my first MSN account. You’re a dirty whore. You fucked up slut. Suck my dick you bitch.

I had just gotten my period.

I was nine.
***

Should I have seen this as foreshadowing? Was the universe ushering me into an age of assault and abuse? Were the shorter needles with Hello Kitty bandages supposed to feel better than the longer needles prodding and poking? They both hurt.

“Women are equal- especially in the developed Western world.”

Then why did this happen before my nipples budded fully, before my pubic hair had grown, before my curves began to set in?

Why did this happen at all?

For years to come, this set up the precedent, the foundations for the stages of pain; How was I supposed to know that my existence didn’t warrant this abuse? I was moulded and taught to be used for sexual pleasure, equating rape to an unpleasant task one must overcome in life, an unpleasant routine that was normalized and inevitable. I didn’t know until I was 14 when I was sexually abused by someone I thought was a friend, that that wasn’t the case. I didn’t know that this was not a unique story, that my friends had all gone through this perverse rite of passage, and that one day we would all realize that this was not the future we wanted for our daughters. I didn’t know how much I deserved from love and sex until I was 17, and my best friend with her bright blue eyes peered up at me in shock and asked:

“Negar, are you serious? Do you really not know you deserve better, that there is better?”

I am still learning.

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