Yes, All Women.

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When I was fourteen, I had a crush on one of my friends who wanted to be a musician. She wanted to hang out with a group of men who were repeating a year of sixth form because they were all in a band. Allegedly, they were all going to form a band together and I simply wanted to be around my friend. I was there when sexual relationships began to form between multiple teenage girls and adult men. 

In order to coax the other girls into sexual relationships, I was treated like I was the ugly, undesirable friend (which is in part, comforting, because you shouldn’t find a fourteen-year-old girl desirable). In comparison, they were told they were so pretty, so grown up. The men encouraged these girls to feel sorry for me. 

However, I started to receive a lot of unwelcome attention from one of the men. I didn’t really know what was happening but I was physically a lot smaller than the men and it became a running joke that I was small and unable to do anything to stop them. 

Now that I’m older, I’ve realised that my preoccupation with being seen as strong and physically intimidating is tied to the fact that I couldn’t defend myself when I was younger. I can be incredibly combative and I feel threatened every day of my life. When I tried to open up to someone I was dating, as an adult, and explain why I was physically withdrawn, he ghosted me. The idea of being “damaged goods” comes to mind, but mostly, it feels as though he didn’t think I was worth the time and effort it takes to get close. 

Living as an adult woman with this burden, knowing that being “damaged goods” is a term that men use for women like me is exhausting. I did nothing wrong but I continue to suffer due to the actions of men. 

Words by Anonymous

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