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Sexual Exploitation Is a Pivotal Issue

I am a female of mixed African, Native American, and European heritage. I was raised working- and upper-middle-class in the United States and am thirty-nine, single, and large.

I think the sexual exploitation of females is one of the most pivotal issues we currently confront in the fight for women’s liberation. It is massive, deep, and intertwined with our exploitative economy. It is ever-present in our interactions, especially but not exclusively when we are in contact with males. Its daily personal repercussions can mold our lives.

I think all women spend a tremendous amount of energy dealing with sexual exploitation—trying to navigate the threat of it, trying to recover from it, and even colluding with the expectation that we will be sexually available.

I understand from older women that an effect of elders’ oppression is to receive less sexual attention. I would be interested in hearing from them about their relationship to sexual exploitation as older females. I know that in intimate relationships with men it often continues to be a struggle.

The early sexual exploitation I experienced and was exposed to has affected me for all the decades since. It is a key factor in how I orient myself in the world, to all human beings, and in particular to men. It’s at the core of my struggles to pay attention to myself; to take care of my health; to be visible; to have meaningful, close contact with anyone; and to have intimate personal relationships with men. And the way sexual exploitation is so ever-present in the media, popular culture, fashion, and so on, keeps the feeling of being threatened with it constantly restimulated. It’s hard to find enough relief from it to get much leverage in discharging the associated distresses.

Shani Fletcher

Dorchester, Massachusetts, USA

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00