The Territory of Women’s Bodies

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By Trisha Baptie | Twitter: @trisha_baptie

When I hear the word “territories,” I immediately think of the land, of earth. I think of the indigenous peoples of this land called Canada and how it was stolen from them and then divided as if a commodity and not a sacred life force. How Indian agents kept them in new places, restricted movement, interfered with how indigenous peoples lived and interacted with the land, decimating culture, traditions, language, social structures, ways of life.

We know that the land is referred to as Mother Earth. It is a life-giving force. You know who else give life?

Women.

This is not a piece about the land or an in-depth piece on the genocide of the Indigenous people. I am going to focus on a territory that is even closer to us than the land: the territories of our actual bodies. Our female bodies, and how they are under constant threat. Can you see how I made the connections in my mind?

If we think of our female bodies as the first and most intimate territory we inhabit, there is truth in saying our female territory is constantly under attack—from the minute the doctor announces, “It’s a girl.” The system that continually works to undermine our livelihood is patriarchy.

Patriarchy, in the simplest of terms, is the favouring of men over women in every aspect of life, and men using that favour to dictate how the world shall be viewed and how women should be in that world. Patriarchy is all-encompassing and has never ever been kind to women. Patriarchy, like colonialism, is an abusive tool that is designed to control another for one’s benefit, a tool that affects us every day even if we are not aware of it. Maybe one is not woke enough to understand how manipulative and slippery a thing patriarchy can be, in fact it can take our whole lives to open our consciousness to its full effects. To review all the various, multifaceted ways in which patriarchy affects our territories is too long to unpack here but I want to focus on how it impacts the way in which we are in the world, our presentation if you will.

I’m particularly aware of how it sets the standards for how we should be in the world.

You know the standards the adverts, magazines, commercials, movies, pop culture scream those standards at us daily, but what if you don’t see yourself in those standards? Well, don’t you worry, because there are entire industries and companies dedicated to helping one manipulate oneself to fit into those narrow, confining standards.

There was a point in my life I closely adhered to those standards, understood that my very acceptance by society was reflected in my adherence to those rules. It was an exhausting, expensive, time-consuming, vapid game.

Gradually over time as my consciousness woke and my main question to most of my actions became, “Why am I doing this?” I learned something. I learned that loving myself exactly how I am is a revolutionary act and that act held freedom.

I asked questions like:

How much money could I save?
How much extra time would I have?
What if I loved myself so much companies that fed off the insecurities they created, collapsed?

There was also something deeper to my conversion to radical self-acceptance and that thing was my faith. There was this awakening in me as I came to understand the constraints I lived under that not only is this a violation of my basic rights, but it also undermined the biblical interpretation of me. God created me because God wanted to look at someone who looked exactly like me. I am made in the full image of God. There is a war in which I am the collateral damage which sole aim is to deny me from walking in the full truth of that statement.

What does God require from me to honour the territory I live in? For me, it involves statements like, Be compassionate, love freely, be kind, serve others, honour others. These qualities cannot be seen in a mirror or magazine, but these qualities bring me deep peace, a joyful soul and a full heart.

So let’s be radical!

Let’s love the aesthetics of our territory no matter what messages get thrown at us, trying to dissuade us from that truth.

Let’s create territories that welcome others in, dangerous territories that are created by living life with hearts wide open, secure in the truth of who we are and who we serve.

So let’s not focus on the borders of our territories—the borders that separate everyone from each other and is what people see. Rather, let’s be women of radical self-acceptance, so we can live in our territory with wide open borders and invite others in with love, adventure, compassion and a curiosity to visit other people’s territories.

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About Trisha:

Trisha Baptie is a prominent activist, consultant and sought after presenter and writer regarding the issue of abolition, women’s equality and violence against women. She is also the Executive Director of Honour Consulting and founding member and Community Engagement Coordinator of EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating.) In her spare time she likes scrolling Instagram for sloth pics and finding ways to proactively avoid cleaning , but does enjoy laundry.

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