Every time I’ve experienced a violation of my bodily autonomy, I’ve had to go through the process of reclaiming my body. I would not touch or let anyone touch me, and I recoiled at the idea of even being in close proximity to those I didn’t know. I stayed away from anything that mentioned vaginas. I downloaded extensions that would block out words related to the parts of my body that had been touched, watched only movies and shows that I knew were safe, and made sure the activist groups I was a part of would actively employ warnings when such content was going to be discussed. I tried my hardest to control my recovery.
October 7, 2016 presented a new challenge: the leak of an Access Hollywood tape of then presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault. In the widely circulated video, Trump brags about how his status enabled him to take advantage of women and that he “[could] do anything […] grab them by the pussy.” I could no longer protect myself from the barrage of commentary on the issue of sexual assault, and was forced to relive the assaults committed against me as a minor over and over and over again.
I expected to find solace from the repetition of this assault with activist groups on campus, in the Greater Montreal area, and on the internet. However, any critical discussion of how Trump’s team claimed the comments were “locker room talk,” or any discussion about sexual violence as a whole, were quickly overshadowed by cissexist vagina-centric feminism that followed the false assumptions that possessing a uterus is equal to womanhood and thereby excluded trans and non binary people.