Two fucked up sides of the same sexist coin

TW/CN: descriptions of childhood verbal and physical abuse, sexist and misogynistic, homophobic, fatphobic, ableist language, domestic violence, rape

I grew up in a pretty fucked up environment. It was macho, and sexist. The people in charge of raising me and the other people who came in contact with me, did a number on me. My self-esteem was so bad, I hated myself just for the fact that I was born. I was constantly told I was too fat, too ugly, too stupid to live. That I would never be as smart as my brothers. That I would be so much prettier if I wasn’t so fat. That no man would ever love me. My plans for going to school and having a career were belittled. I wouldn’t do any of that because I had a duty to get married and have kids. That all my plans would go down the drain once a man “dominated me”. I was called a whore and a slut because I refused to clean up after my brothers. I was seven. I was called a lesbian because I preferred to play with the boys and I didn’t like dresses. I was called a whore and a slut because I only hung out with boys. I used to draw a lot and make new dresses for my dolls. I was told it was a waste of time. I wasn’t’ creative. I was being silly. No, girls don’t play video games. Go clean. No, it doesn’t matter that you did it yesterday, it doesn’t matter that your brothers haven’t. Why are you talking back? Then the beatings would come.

I excelled in school. But nobody ever told me they were proud of me. My teachers praised my work but at home all I heard was how I wasn’t good enough.

I grew up into an insecure, scared, unsure teen. A new country would help me, I thought. I can be a new person. No one will know how horrible I am because I won’t let them see what my family saw. But the bullying happened anyway. It bothered me but I was so used to it, it didn’t make much of an impact. No one would ever be as cruel as my family.

I ended up with an abusive boyfriend at 19. Everything I ever heard from my family; I heard from him. It was just confirmation that, yeah, I was too ugly and stupid to live. That my family had been right all along. I didn’t deserve happiness or respect. He abused me, he raped me, he broke down what ever little bit of self-esteem there was left.

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(I have two brothers, but I’ll talk about the youngest one since he was the one I was closest to)

My brother grew up in a pretty fucked up environment. It was macho, and sexist. The people in charge of raising him and the other people who came in contact with him, did a number on him. His arrogance was so high, he thought he could get away with anything. He was constantly told how smart and handsome he was. That his older sister wasn’t worth looking up to, but his older brother was. That he had the choice of any woman he wanted. It was OK that he didn’t have any plans for his future. Just make sure you got a wife that cooks for you!  You don’t want someone lazy like your sister. He was seven. He’d risked being called a f*g if he showed any emotion. He’d risked being called sissy if he touched his sister’s dolls. Play video games! But make sure your sister doesn’t play. She needs to clean all the windows. No, don’t worry about it being your chore, she’ll do it.  Don’t interfere when your sister is getting beat with the belt buckle.

He did well in school. If only your sister was as intelligent.

He grew up into an insecure, scared, unsure teen. A new country would help him, he thought. He can be a new person. He won’t have to hear the horrible way they treat his sister. But the bullying happened anyway. It bothered him. It ate him up; left a huge impact. He wasn’t used to being targeted for being himself. Wasn’t he perfect? No one would ever be as cruel as my family.

So he became cruel, and people left him alone. He became a bully. He ended up being an abusive man. Everything he ever heard from my family towards me, he directed towards others, and I too, became a target of his abuse. And no one said anything. It was just confirmation that, yeah, he could do what he wanted and there would be no consequences. If there were, it was time to change the people around him but not himself. So he continued to hurt with his words and his fists. He had been broken down.

I’ve had to learn how to undo all the damage done by my family and by the abusive ex. It’s been a long and painful process. I’ve had to “re-wire” how my brain works so that the first thing that pops in my head about me is NOT something negative.

I am a good person. I have friends who love and respect me. I deserve respect. I have a child who loves me and needs me at my best. I deserve happiness. I’m not that little girl anymore. I’m an adult and I define who I am.

My brother hasn’t had that chance. Well, he’s had the chances but he lacks the insight to take them. He has friends that care about him, he has children that love him. He has family that loves him. I love him. But he doesn’t see that. He just sees that he must never break down. Must never show his emotions. He must never be anything other than “a man”.

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