Content warning: This story includes details of sexual assault that might be upsetting to some readers.
This Black body has never been mine. This Black body has always been beaten, battered and bruised with its only saving grace being that it’s an object for the entertainment of others. This feminine-seeming Black body is like a doll: A Cute Ebony Doll.
I was trained and conditioned by the media, previous partners and peers to be used to being used for the sexual gratification of others. In sex it was, and still is sometimes, never about what I want but what they want. To them, I am just a hypersexualized creature for people to gander, grope and assault as they wish. I have become desensitized whenever a partner tells me what I am going to do and am shocked when someone asks me what I would like to during sex.
Sexual assault was not a term in my vocabulary until I was 16. Why? Because you can’t sexually assault a thing. This is why endless encounters of sexual violence ranging from partaking in activities I haven’t wanted to, being groped on public transportation, being gandered at and being called a “pretty charcoal thang” by nameless strangers has become nothing but a blur. When you are conditioned to think this is normal, you begin to notice it happening less and less until you don’t notice it happening at all.
I was 16 when I learned what sexual assault was. At first, I was horrified. And then, I felt nothing. I didn’t think it applied to this Black body because the only examples we talked about were white bodies. This Black body has and will always be thought of last.
I was 19 when the #MeToo movement became widespread on social media. I remember seeing it on Facebook as one of those copy-and-paste chain posts. I surprised myself by doing this one. I was indifferent when I saw more than a dozen white people copy and paste it onto their Facebook Walls. My mood shifted when I saw that my mother, the strongest woman who never takes anything from anyone, posted it on hers, too. The emotion I felt in that moment was a weird mixture of relief, sadness, shock, confusion and anger. Somehow, these emotions led to empowerment.
At 19, I decided that this Black body was no longer just a thing to be used by others. This Black body was not just another cute ebony doll. This Black body, this Black body right here, is my Black body. It belongs to no one but Anaya Lynne Carter-Duckett. No one gets to touch or do anything to it without the consent of Anaya Lynne Carter-Duckett.
At 21, I realized the #MeToo movement is more than a movement trying to end sexual assault. It is a movement trying to bring the power back to those who have had that power taken from them. The gender or race of your body means nothing. It is your damn body and no one else’s.