By: Natalia Cordova-Buckley
(This post was originally posted by Natalia Cordova-Buckley on her social media pages, we are posting this to The Xo Social Collective with permission from her)
From the Editor ~ In the last week, allegations and evidence of repeated sexual assault by A-List Hollywood Producer, Harvey Weinstein, have surfaced after an expose article in the New York Times. Several women have come forward, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Cara Delevingne, amongst many others, to bravely open up about the assault and trauma they experienced at the hands of Weinstein.
Here, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Actress on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, avid activist, and a dear friend of The Xo Social, wrote a powerful and emotional piece on her pain, specifically on the sexual assault and discrimination she's faced growing up and through her navigation of the entertainment industry.
Please note, this post contains themes of sexual assault, rape, and other nonconsensual sexual experiences. If you are sensitive to these topics, please proceed in reading this with caution. But please know that there is a hopeful and empowering ending.
I am very sad, I am really angry, but most of all, I am deeply hurt.
I thought I had healed. I thought these feelings would never be able to creep up on me and squeeze tears out of my eyes with the power that they, in the last few days, have.
The young girl that still lives inside me is reliving a well known pain.
The pain that comes with the ultimate choice all women must make.
To be strong and powerful, or to be loved and accepted.
Where I grew up, those two attributes didn’t go hand in hand.
I was raised in a patriarch society that is profoundly immersed in the culture of machismo.
I know what the women that are speaking up about sexual harassment have felt. Perhaps not to the extreme they have, but I’ve felt the fangs of misogyny dig themselves into my spirit more than once.
I know what it’s like to be groped (his hand under my skirt, grabbing an area that is mine to choose if I want it touched or not) by your brother’s and boyfriend’s friend as you walk through a nightclub and feel like you can’t say anything because it’s the behavior you’ve observed all your childhood.
I know what it’s like to be 16 years old and have a 30 something year-old soap opera actor (who calls himself the black diamond) stick his tongue down your ear in the middle of a party and whisper the perversions he wants to do to you and feel completely overpowered because all your male friends are sucking up to him. What’s a young girl to do going up against a man that people around her treat as king?
I know what it’s like to reject the advances of a producer just to wake up the next morning to rumors on set that you are a lesbian. Because who would reject a dirty, old, corrupt, powerful producer right?
I know what it’s feels like to go for a stroll in your “safe” neighborhood and end up racing back home because a group of men in a construction site started yelling profane remarks and whistling at you.
I know what it’s like to dream of education and hear how women in your family weren’t accepted into universities because of their sex.
I know what it’s like to hear your mother, with tears in her eyes (20 years after it happened), tell you how the priest that conducted her first marriage banished her from church for divorcing a man who emotionally and mentally abused her.
I know what it’s like to be utterly confused inside because you see that men seem to really enjoy the degrading of women in bikini contests, wet t-shirt contests, etc… Events where the woman that exposes herself the most, gets paid, while the ones that lost, walk out naked, oiled, booed and in shame.
I know what it’s like to hear the heart of a friend break when she tells you about the time she was raped
I know what it’s like to be excited because you think you are actually being offered a role for your talent, just to have the meeting end with the person proposing you go on a date with him.
I know what its like to have your macho boyfriend tell you “calladita te ves mas bonita” ("When you are silent you look prettier”) while you passionately discuss a subject that is important to you, in an environment that you believed to be safe.
I know what it’s like to lose all confidence in yourself because you don’t look like the physical female stereotype that we have allowed the masses to dictate.
I know what it’s like to hear men talk about girls and women as if they were disposable objects and gifts to pass on from one to another.
I know what it’s like to be born with a strong voice, use it believing you are doing good and constantly have people tell you to shut up.
I know what it’s like to speak up about the objectification of women and have the men who are supposed to listen and protect you, berate you and laugh together at you, sending you into such a depression, you start to believe you are not worthy of existence.
I know what it’s like to steadily feel loneliness. To never know if you can really speak your mind. To never be sure if you can really be yourself.
I know what it’s like to choose to either be strong or be loved.
I know what it’s like to chose strength and live in a state of fear of rejection.
I know what it’s like to be a woman in a world ruled by the belief that we are less than men.
Machismo has haunted me my entire life. I speak about it more than I speak about most things.
It consumed me as a girl and it wrecked me as a young woman.
But… its also made me the woman I am today and for that I say…THANK YOU!
Thank you to the men and women who built walls around me. You gave me a monster to battle every single day. You gave me a target to run towards and break. You made me the strongest version of myself.
To you all who think we are made of metal and believe your fire will melt and mold us into whatever shape you desire us to take, know this…we are made of air. We are the wind and we can and will light and extinguish your fire as we please.
Machismo, you’ve just met your worst enemy.
To the women suffering out there, you are not alone, you are seen, I am here, if you are in need, come to me.
This ends NOW! I am done tiptoeing around this subject. I am done waiting for some of you to wake up.
I am done crying, I am done feeling alone, I am done feeling rejected and most of all…
I AM DONE SEEING MY SISTERS SUFFER AT THE HANDS OF THIS PLAGUE.
Speak up, be the change, shine a light on the darkness and let’s once and for all kill this fucking monster!