The day I bumped into the man who’d wanted to rape me

This is a story I shared on another platform many years ago, but I’ll summarize it quickly before getting into the meat of phase two of meeting rapist.

I’d been heading home when two men walking towards me suddenly stopped in unison and each man grabbed each of my wrists. The process of getting away from them was a painful one and after not leaving my house for three days I fled to Kigali to recover.

A few weeks ago, I was leaving home when I was accosted by four men. One of them reached for my wrist and  jumped back and snapped my usual “Fuck you!”

Now I was about ten meters away from four men who clearly intended to do me harm. This was only 10.00 am in the morning. I quickly reached into my bag and pulled out my pepper spray. One of the men recognized it. He was wearing a cap.

“And you think we’re scared of your pepper spray”?, he sneered.

His voice. His sneer. It all came back. I recognized him instantly. I felt no rage, no sense of fear or the helplessness he’d instilled in me so many years ago. I only knew that that girl was long gone and now he and his friends were dealing with a new person.

“You’re not scared of my pepper spray?”, I told them all. “Fine. But before you get to me, one of you’s going to get hurt. Now if one of you is willing to hang around while another of you is screaming from the pain in his eyes, throat and salivating his stomach out, that’s your choice. But one of you is going to get it. Make a choice”.

I always like to give them a choice. Makes it fair.

There was a Clint Eastwood stand-off before one of the men grumbled, “Come on, let’s go. Let’s leave this one alone”.

My ‘friend’ did not want to go. He wanted to teach me a lesson. His friends had to drag him away. I felt grateful to know that the work I’ve been doing, on myself and for other women, has not been wasted. Learning to be assertive, aggressive, show my teeth and fight for my life and my rights. 

But this story would have turned out differently if I’d not had that pepper spray in my hand. I know that I have the capacity to get out of these situations with my attitude and tone of voice alone.

But so many women don’t. I implore you, if you fall in that category, before you learn that you are not always capable of falling prey to the men that fall in the trash category, to buy my pepper spray.

Follow my Facebook page to send my team a message: https://www.facebook.com/notyourbody.ug/

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It looks pretty but it makes you feel stronger

 

Someone’s trying to replace #menaretrash with #MenAreKings and I sure as hell ain’t gonna sing a Kumbaya

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“So when women across the land cry out, ‘men are trash’, what it really means is, your ideas of manhood are no longer fit for purpose and your lack of evolution is hurting us all. It’s a plea to start talking about masculinity, defining new constructs, adding more definitions to the pot and being less one dimensional about what it means to be a man. It is our way of saying, we need you, we just need you to get there a lot faster. In short, it’s time to level up.”-Salma El-Wadany, Huffpost.
Written by Lindsey Kukunda
Why people view #menaretrash as an insult will be amusing to me for the rest of my days. Women have grown up hearing themselves being described in mainstream media as whores, sluts, cunts, ‘easy’, bitch and this has spilled over into our daily lives too. Women thankfully don’t feel the inclination to yell ‘#notallwomen!’ whenever such expressions are experienced.
#menaretrash is about exposing and addressing the abuse, injustice, discrimination, disrespect, you name it- experienced at the hands of men, in public and behind closed doors, inside and outside the judiciary, at school and at home, on the street; and saying ‘It’s time to call men out for this abnormal shit and Lawd Jesus, can they get their act together?’.
Contrary to popular belief, #menaretrash isn’t about singling out individuals, thereby rendering #notallmen null and void. So dear gentlemen who go haywire when you hear it, if you would direct it towards trashy men instead of women for finally talking about it, we’d appreciate it.
But their reaction is to be enraged, offended, as opposed to focusing on what #menaretrash is all about. But the hashtag still worked. It came, it saw and it conquered. Suddenly men became involved in discussions related to gender based violence. Some men are defensive, others are curious and to my delight, others are starting to notice what their privilege had blinded them to before: the behavior of trashy men.
I am not a user of the phrase #menaretrash but I do empathize with and understand those who are-because it is true for them. For me too, to be honest, but my stories are similar to those of many sisters and if you have eyes, you have read them.
So when someone proposes that #menaretrash is too harsh, too abusive, too derogatory and we should shift our focus to #MenAreKings instead, that person didn’t get the full memo determining the coining of the phrase.
Men are already looking for ways to deny and avoid the uncomfortable facts of #menaretrash by saying #notallmen.
So when a woman comes along and says, “It’s true. #notallmen. In fact, #MenAreKings”, that woman is doing society’s job for it. Replacing what matters with yet more coddling of male egos. Preventing the evolution of a discussion that could lead to real change.
Call men kings on your own time, on this lovely thread many of us would have enjoyed without criticism. We’ve spent centuries saying men are kings, you see. In fact, a great number of them (especially the trashy ones) think they’re kings already.
So if you feel this hashtag does men an injustice, your feelings are valid to a fault. The tag comes from many sources of women’s pain and anger and to label the hashtag as evil is to label the victims invisible, unimportant and their pain irrelevant.
Come up with hashtags to talk about the good guys, but if you do it under the guise of dismissing one talking about the bad guys, then you’re really telling women to stop talking. And we’ve had enough of that, thank you.

It is time for me to write about Tanzania

Something happened to me in Tanzania that weeks later I have not mentally recovered from. I did not want to write about it because I did not want to relive the horror but since its still visiting me at night in dreams, i write for the selfish reason that I hope they recede, and for the nobler reason that I don’t want it to happen to another woman.

I apologize in advance to Tanzanians if I have trouble containing myself. I won’t pretend that I still have trouble not seething when i think about the country.

I had gone as an African tourist so to speak. On my second day i left my hotel to see a friend for a day on the town. After a few seconds I begun to hear men yelling in Swahili, and then women. And suddenly i was surrounded by a mob. Every part of my body was being gripped by a member of the crowd.my hands,my waist,my thighs,my neck, EVERY part. I had no freedom to move or run, let alone breathe.

I had only seen this group rage in Kampala when some unfortunate soul is about to die for stealing a chicken.

The mens eyes were wild with lust (reader, I know what I saw as they touched me!) and the women with fury. I remained calm as i studied them for it really was unbelievable what was happening. I will not describe the whole sordid thing in detail for it sickens me still to think of it.

I was eventually whisked to safety inside a bar and the crowd outside stayed, hurling insults at me. A man brought a car to the door of the bar and i was whisked into it like a celebrity avoiding her fans. I remember the window next to me was open and one man reached in to grab my neck i think. Id had enough by now. I smashed his face and he fell away, the crowd parted and the driver drove me back to the hotel.

my dress offended then, see. I was told later that because there was wind, it was flapping and the sight of my thighs enraged the moralists. A likely story. my dress was above the knee and after spending a few more days in Tanzania I realised that is a crime whether there is wind or not.

I was told that i was mobbed because they did not know i was not Tanzanian. Oh, thats how it works is it? Hello, are you from here so we can beat yo arse up?

I have written this to warn black women. Not African women. Black ones. Because it is after the beating that the explanations and apologies begin-oh we are sorry we did not know you are not Tanzanian. Your non-black accent will not save you. So if you are a black woman, be careful. There is no protection against what happened to me happening to you to be honest, so also ask God to have your back!

I saw a lot of mens legs but of course men can never offend culturally. I wont play the comparison game because if you choose to be blind to the hypocrisy of culture being a form of oppression reserved for women,  you deserve the insults I cant call you right now because let me be a lady today.

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Jackasses….

 

‘Put a cork in it’

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Ugandans are lovely people. So much so that they aren’t aware of the thin line between asking a question in innocence and being downright rude. This is a typical scenario between two people.

Innocent Ugandan: Eh Emily, long time no see.

Emily (obviously): Yeah, I’ve been busy with work and stuff

Innocent Ugandan: Oh okay….But what is happening to you?

Emily: What do you mean?

Innocent Ugandan: You’re really getting fat

Emily: (visibly uncomfortable) Hmm….Yeah, maybe it’s peace of mind

Innocent Ugandan: Bambi its too much. Oba you’re also over eating? Do you even walk?.

Now, this could go on for a while until someone interrupts the conversation or Innocent Ugandan runs out of inappropriate things to say.

Unfortunately, this is not considered rude in Uganda.

I can’t count how many people have asked me whether I eat with a straight face. And it’s disappointing that they don’t get the sarcasm when I respond, “No, I survive on a strict diet of meditation and water.”

Where am I going with this?

The day before my first chemotherapy treatment I was a mess. I was supposed to have started a week earlier but couldn’t because my immune system wasn’t strong enough to handle the medication. I’d lost a lot of weight (shocker) after my diagnosis and surgery, mainly attributed to the worrying and stress, so on top of everything else my mind was fraught with worry about what the treatment would further do to my already frail frame. I remember I was at work, trying to get my affairs in order before I had to leave. I’d spent my lunch break at the hospital getting tests done and the doctor had already prepared me for the damage that I should gear up for. To be frank, I was scared.

And then, this girl I used to work with came by to the office and she’s like, (in typical innocent Ugandan mode) “Eh Linda, where have you been? It’s been a while! Naye, is it just me or have you lost weight. I think maybe you’ve stopped eating…..hehehe”

Dear reader, my mind went blank. I only had one thought – ‘It’ official, chemo is going to kill me!’ I remember she was smiling, and I was just looking at her. I felt suffocated, hot, constipated even, it’s hard to describe the instantaneous shift my body took. I finally understood what it felt like to get a panic attack. My fingers started trembling so I left my desk and walked to the ladies room. I broke down. I couldn’t even drive myself home that evening. It was the perfect scenario of ‘Great, just what I needed to hear!’ (PS: this is sarcasm)

My point is this. Let’s be careful about the comments we make to others. Sometimes we make them in jest and it’s all good. But other times you have no idea what demons people are dealing with. So the next time you want to make a snide remark about someone’s weight, hair, clothes or mood, ask yourself , “Will my ‘clever’ remark add value to this ones life or Am I just being a dick?” It’s usually the latter.

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This is a true story about my mother

She married my father when she was still very young and had not finished her education. The marriage was illegal. She was married because she was kidnapped. She was taken to a man she had never met in her life. Imagine if the man was infected, badly behaved and all sorts, and of course it was not the man of her dreams.

This came as a result of my father’s older wife he had married who produced only one girl child and became barren. My father’s family blamed her and was confused if the wife was barren or if was my father with a problem. Therefore they had to get a wife for my father to confirm whether he can still produce and himself, he wanted more children.

Finally my mother gave birth to us in Entebbe. My mother was treated very badly by our stepmother because she was older than her. Therefore, our mother divorced and went back to her parent’s home in Mbarara. We, her children, remained with our father.

It was so sad and hurting that our stepmother did unbearable things to us. When I was four years old I urinated on the bed at night and my stepmother burnt my private parts with a knife. Imagine. At four years.

My father took us back to our mother’s place after my stepmom had destroyed my private parts. When we reached, our mum started crying after seeing us so messed up, malnourished, brown hair…oooooh! My mother was pregnant when she divorced my father but because she saw that we suffered a lot she would not abort anymore. She decided to come back to my dad’s place and that was the start of her suffering.

My mother is a woman that has borne pain that many women may not bear because of this generation and because of women emancipation.

When my mother came back to settle with the children at home, weh! My father did not give any support to her. She is more of a single mother because she never tasted the love of her husband. My father does not like her. All he does is pay fees for us, not forgetting that he left our mother to pay fees for one of my siblings yet mum is a housewife and has no source of funds.

My mother tried to live that life with prayers. She depends on milk to pay fees and gives us some upkeep because our father does not respond to our needs faster like our mother does.

Of recent, my stepmother is claiming that mum being in the village, she is enjoying a lot of fruits from cows, plantations etc therefore she thinks everything comes on a silver platter forgetting that good things are worked for. Therefore due to my stepmother’s complaints, my father divided property between the two wives.

What is so surprising and stupid of him is he is giving out our mother’s sweat to the stepmother who did totally nothing apart from sleeping, waking up, showering, sitting and depending on dad’s account as if she is a child.

But above all that, my mother still stands as a strong lady. She ignores. She is praying. She believes that at one time she will reap what she sows in us.

I appeal to ladies to stop being enemies with each other. It’s useless and increases on the gap of men abusing their rights. If my stepmother had co-operated with my mum, they would both be happy mothers but since they are divided there is no peace.

This is a true story. Not all that glitters is gold. If I were not afraid of coming out openly I would dare anyone to tell me this story is not well stated.

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Mariam (not real name) is a 22 year old student of social works. She enjoys reading, writing, and music. She loves to sing. 

The day a man stealthed me

I saw a conversation on the notyourbody page a while back about stealthing-the act of a man removing a condom during sex without a woman being aware of it. People were asking if this could be considered an act of rape.

I think until it has happened to you it is difficult to understand how traumatic and confusing this can be. It happened to me and I am still confused!

I had known this man a few weeks and I did not just feel a sexual attraction for him. I liked him. I liked the way he held me and I liked our talks together. One evening we decided to have sex.

I saw him putting on the condom with my own eyes. And after the sex was over there was no condom.

I still cannot explain my emotions. Was I raped, deceived, tricked, what?

“Was it an accident?”, I asked him. “Did it just slip off?”

He smiled shyly at me and did not answer. I knew then that he had done it on purpose, to enjoy himself, ignoring my choice and desire to be safe.

I liked this man. How could he do this to me? I just continued to stare in shock at his condomless penis, not to mention the spermless condom!

I took an HIV test and was found negative. But I have become very confused about men. How can they not care about us like this? How can they not care about their own lives?

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And even if you don’t care about the woman, why would you risk your own life like that?

The little one with boobs

A comic by the name Tom Willard recently referred to me as “the little one with boobs” as though there were no other attirbutes he could think of to evoke recognition. (He isn’t the first comic to do this and he wont be the last). He went on to explain how inexperienced I am in comedy, how unfunny I am, how I will be taking orders for the rest of my life, etc.
I do not condone passive aggressive Facebook wars, nor do I think Facebook is an effective mode of communication in situations like this. However, given my commitment to women and survivors of sexual assault, I think I owe it to the people who have followed me personally as a feminist but also those who graciously support Don’t Grab My Pussy, to share my reaction to this statement:

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I’ve always hated my boobs. I’ve taped them down, looked into getting reductions, made a habit of crossing my arms. When I was in 8th grade my chest started to grow more, and suddenly boys started talking to me. I hated it. I tried to cover them up as much as possible with sweaters and sweatshirts, but no matter, boys would say something to me everyday- “Wow your tits are so big I can see them through your sweatshirt” or simply, “Hey take off your sweater I wanna see how big your boobs are,” (that was in the back of the bus, first day of 8th grade). I came to understand that my boobs were something of great value and I tried very hard to own them, but what a silly thing to want as a woman, right?

When I was in college, my Junior year, I woke up in a bed I didn’t recognize with two men I didn’t know. I had been slipped something and raped. When I left it seemed my biggest accomplishment in their eyes was how amazing my tits are. They couldn’t stop talking about it. This wasn’t really the first time I had been taken advantage of and it wouldn’t be the last, but it was the most clear cut case of it. (Luckily I was in the best sorority in the world and my sister got me the help and protection I needed to feel safe again).

My (biological) sister is starting middle school and I pray every day she won’t “fill out” because I know that people call curvey girls, busty girls, girls who don’t fit in clothes as well as others, etc “sluts.” But then I realized that no matter what you do, you’re a “slut” or a “bitch” or “bossy.” No matter what we do, no matter how many fundraisers we put on, how many people look up to us, how many times we’ve helped someone when no one else wanted to, we have always just been seen as a collection of body parts.

To this I say, we are greater than the sum of our parts.

Thanks for all of your love and support today and always, especially for Don’t Grab My Pussy.

P.S. I’m all for appreciating boobs – I appreciate all your boobs.

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Kelsey Claire Hagen is a comedian out of Rochester, NY. She has produced many successful shows, namely Don’t Grab My Pussy (December 2016). Also, she speaks Swahili. 

Beautiful girl, you are not welcome here

This story was narrated to a Not Your Body writer by a female Somali human rights activist who requested anonymity for safety reasons.

“I attended a meeting for my work and was seated in the front of a room full of people, preparing to listen to a presentation. My country is conservative so of course I was covered up from head to toe. A man came up to me and told me to go all the way to the back of the room.

‘Why?’, I asked him. ‘I came here first. Why should I give up this spot?’

‘You are a beautiful woman’, he said. ‘And you are distracting the men’.

I was so very mad.

‘No’, I told him.

‘You must go’, he insisted. ‘You will distract everyone’.

‘No’, I repeated. ‘I am NOT going to move from this seat. Good luck’.

Defeated, he left me alone.

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“I resent the fact that I and other women have to make a living out of our bodies so we can have a life”

 

A MAN’S STORY OF SEX AND CYBER VIOLATION

First of all, I want to be anonymous even if my privacy has been violated. I am a man who enjoys sex, sometimes promiscuously, and I’m open about it. So yes, I have a lot of bedroom experiences in a respectful way because I’m truthful and up front with all my sexual partners.

What happened?

This story involves four women I shall introduce in the order that they will appear. Meredith, Jemimah, Constance and a sorry excuse for a woman that I shall simply call Cruel.

A couple of years back I had a short fling with Meredith who now lives abroad. She remotely introduced me to her friend Jemimah and we hit it off. We begun to enjoy a friendship with benefits. Meredith and I remained friends and pen pals till the date of the very unfortunate mishap I’m about to share with you.

More recently, I had been engaged in another fling with another woman, Constance. Now Constance was recently talking to a cousin of hers who lives abroad called Cruel – and told her some details of her sex life with me. In the conversation her tongue slipped and she mentioned my name and that’s when Cruel connected the dots: wait! Her friend Meredith had been doing a guy with that name who fits the description…

On our next sexual encounter, Constance mentioned this to me. I was uncomfortable with the leak, but admitted it was true. I also asked Constance to be very careful not to tell people my name as I had not done that to her. Constance just laughed it off and wanted to know a few details about my times with Meredith. I told her I was not comfortable disclosing other’s people’s business and would rather share any other story that doesn’t involve names. But I did tell her that Meredith had introduced me to a friend (without providing Jemimah’s name) and that we had had some really nice times. I know what you’re thinking – how naive of me.

Sure enough, a couple of weeks later I received an instant message from Jemimah outraged. She said I had violated her confidence. I was confused, as I had never mentioned her name to anyone. She said that my photo was leaked in a Whatsapp group saying that she’d been “choking on this guy’s cock and sharing it with Meredith”. Holy shit! I felt like someone broke into my house. How could someone do this?

When I pushed for details, she said that I had told some girl and her cousin had sent this info in the group. This, of course, made me realize it was Constance’s cousin Cruel. I really don’t understand how she got to know about Jemimah, but what’s really ridiculous is how someone who doesn’t know me would share my dirty laundry in front of an audience for the sole purpose of slut-shaming a group member. In my experience, I’ve never seen a man (no matter how much of an asshole) rejoicing in slut-shaming women – it is always a woman who does so. I just want to know why…

The aftermath:

I have now lost the friendship of Jemimah, and in the process Meredith’s also (in her words: you keep your girl, I keep mine). To me, I am in the same situation women often complain about: when someone else smears you and violates your privacy, it is you who gets the blame. I know that the blow to a man’s reputation is really nothing in our culture, but I respect my and other people’s privacy and this is bullshit.

Now I know the best I can do is keep a low profile and let it fizz away. I hope Jemimah can too and feel really bad for all the embarrassment it caused her. I am also very sad about losing my friendship with Meredith. Constance feels so guilty and I don’t know whether I will even want to see her again. But I would love to have the means to retaliate to Cruel – this fucking bitch I don’t even know.

I decided to share this in this group at the risk of my lifestyle and choices being judged. It is true that I could have avoided all of this by not involving myself with more than one sexual partner, but I don’t see how this is any different from advising women not to wear provocative clothes or not to flirt with men.

So before you judge, keep in mind it is NOT YOUR BODY and I’m most definitely not interested in what you do with yours as long as you don’t harm innocent people like Cruel did.

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Just give girls a chance

The world makes a very big mistake to write off women.

God took a rib from man and formed a woman. The last thing I read was that Eve fed Adam something and both got banned from Eden. You cannot be serious. A woman caused man to leave paradise.

These days some laws in some parts of the world are clear. Boys are better than girls. Hardly too many cultures pay dowry for a boy to marry someone’s girl.

This would normally mean that the world would want more baby girls.

Instead, girls are aborted. Girls are prevented from going to school. Girls are treated like objects to be sold to the highest bidder. Read The Geisha.

Biology is dominated by women. So is engineering and astronomy. Do not even talk about nursing.

Margaret Thatcher was a woman.

Universities have women professors.

Cleopatra played you. So did Marie Antoinette.

Park Guen-hye.

May in UK is giving people sleepless nights.

Dilma Rouseff did her work too.

Hillary Clinton lost on some few things.

Some of the best international companies are run by women.

Men will always be ahead because they do not bear babies.

Four girls and my kids cannot get the same chances if they were boys? The price of ignoring girls will show up in your corporation, education and government.

After all, you were born of a mother. We are also strong. JUST GIVE GIRLS A CHANCE. Your mom carried you for 9 months in her belly and spent sleepless nights to raise you. Have you forgotten?

Saying you educated your daughter so that the groom’s family has to pay is forgetting that the boy’s family also educated their son. Or would like your daughter to marry a boy whose family spent no money educating him?

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My name is Emmah Bwayo. I have two daughters: Charity Joahanah Bwayo and Vivian Daisy Bwayo. I love them. We have to strongly stand against domestic violence.