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April 18, 2018 12:10 AM   Subscribe

"If all young girls and women committed such treason, patriarchy would collapse." Reema Zaman on the truth behind the perfect photos taken when she was a model and actress and her life since. CW: abuse, rape.
posted by Athanassiel (28 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is an article more people need to see.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:45 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I only want to comment to say I read this and I see this and I stand in support and unity.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:13 AM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


Attempted summary: attractive women have a particularly hard time getting others to take them seriously, and this in turn affects how seriously those women take themselves, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. In general, it’s hard to avoid becoming what people reflect back to you, and people tend to be very shallow with their reflections.
posted by mantecol at 5:41 AM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


He calls them “sister-wives”. He says: “Baby, it’s for your own good. This way, the pressure to make me happy doesn’t fall completely on you.”

What the actual fuck?
posted by chavenet at 5:43 AM on April 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


What the actual fuck?

You weren't aware that self-serving men are self-serving?
Rhetorical question, and asked without malice. I'm a woman with a lot of genuinely kind, empathetic guy friends so I'm well aware that I exist in several parallel worlds, one of which contains virulently ego-centric dudes who see women as objects and somehow manage to not be recognized as such by kind, empathetic guys.

A lot of my guy friends, up to roundabouts age 40, would even be admirative because "oh he gets all the hot women!" Mmmmmyeeeeeaaaah no get your priorities straight please and be less of the problem. Thankfully a lot of them are much less of the problem now. Sadly for those of us women who count them as friends and partners, it tends to happen via their daughters. I say "sadly" because it's heartbreaking to realize that a person you count as a dear friend was in fact never taking your, or their wives', or their girlfriends', lived experiences seriously until they saw it happen to their daughter. I'm still baffled by this. My mouth, which moves and is attached to a brain capable of human language, produces words and sentences which mean things. Things understandable by other humans. Why is this not taken seriously. (I do not care about the answer because I learned a long time ago to give no fucks if I wanted to have a smidgen of a hope of a life of agency. Giving no fucks is not always enjoyable. I have a solid idea or three about why women aren't taken seriously, even by "good" people, and it's fucking enraging.)
posted by fraula at 5:55 AM on April 18, 2018 [64 favorites]


Man, that's good writing. When I first read this sentence, I thought it was metaphorical, a description of how we all live in this fallen world:

We live in a half-burnt barn, deep in the belly of the woods, so removed from civilization that we don’t have cell reception.

Then I realized no, that's literally how she was living. Then I realized that it's also a brilliant description of how we all live in this fallen world. That's good writing.
posted by languagehat at 6:28 AM on April 18, 2018 [27 favorites]


Damn.

Attempted summary: attractive women have a particularly hard time getting others to take them seriously, and this in turn affects how seriously those women take themselves, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. In general, it’s hard to avoid becoming what people reflect back to you, and people tend to be very shallow with their reflections.

I think the phenomenon she describes goes well beyond not being taken seriously. She is talking about what it means to be literally overtaken by other people's egos—when people reflect back to you only themselves. She is talking about what it is like to have been, from the very beginning, so reflexively constituted by the desires of others that you do not exist.
posted by materialgirl at 7:21 AM on April 18, 2018 [57 favorites]


I lie awake night upon night wishing he’d actually hit me. Then I’d have something tangible to point to as reason to leave, as proof of grief.

While young and unmarried, I believe every (girl) friend I ever had uttered some version of this sentiment. "If a guy ever hit me, I'd be outta there."

We need to do a better job of teaching young women that this isn't how it starts, that this isn't how the web entangles you.
posted by vignettist at 7:48 AM on April 18, 2018 [35 favorites]


That was an extraordinary read, so powerfully written. Wow.
posted by treepour at 8:21 AM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes, as languagehat says, beautifully written. I just wish she'd entitled her memoir I Am Not Yours.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:38 AM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


She is talking about what it is like to have been, from the very beginning, so reflexively constituted by the desires of others that you do not exist.

This story is heart-wrenching. Coming as it did from a woman whose appearance is obviously still a huge part of her professional and personal identity, I honestly don't know how to respond. There are too many conflicting signals. What can you do when your identity is colonised like this? Am I reading about a victim or a survivor? Is this a cautionary tale or a triumph over adversity?

From her website:
Experience and response. This applies as well to the cast of characters we align ourselves with in life. Often, people will treat us based on what we teach them about ourselves. In the case of this man, all he was doing was responding to the way I treated myself, the energy I exuded, the expectations and behavior I accepted.
This is the awful truth. She casts herself as the victim and she blames herself. Does that mean we should blame her too, or has she broken that cycle? Shouldn't we blame at least some of the people who bent her to their expectations? Where does she challenge the culture that told her she had to put up with this crap anyway? Do I need to read the book to find out if she does?

I'm trying to imagine an alternative scenario and find myself plotting elaborate revenge thrillers in which she hunts down and mercilessly shames, bankrupts or otherwise ruins all her tormentors. I wish she was filming it right now because I'd watch the hell out of that. Projecting my own fantasies about her life probably makes me no better than the rest of them though.

We need to do a better job of teaching young women that this isn't how it starts, that this isn't how the web entangles you.

I disagree. We should do a better job of teaching men (like her teacher, for instance) that women aren't commodities.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 10:02 AM on April 18, 2018 [13 favorites]


Leaving one of a few men like these is what my 28 year old daughter is in the midst of just now. It's just hell. So thanks for posting. I'm sending the link to her and then we'll edge closer together to her becoming her most-ness, rather than her his-ness.
posted by kneecapped at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


This was beautiful and scary to read.

For anyone that seeking more information and understanding about the process of abuse, finding a path to recovery or offering support, I really recommend reading "Why Does He Do That" by Lundy Bancroft if you get the opportunity. I've gone through it twice now and it opened my eyes to how entitlement and control work in abusive relationships. There is a lot of detail about emotional / non-physical abuse.
posted by GladysKnight at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


Maybe add tags for rape, abuse etc? That way folks using MyMefi as a way of avoiding distressing content can filter this out?
posted by saltbush and olive at 1:21 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


[Added those tags.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:37 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I use what I know as an actress, and as a girl trained to endear the world of men, to calm him.

I often wish that I didn't have this training. It is easy and safe to default to, and a difficult habit to break.
posted by sweetjane at 1:39 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


So much of this article hit so hard. I just read it for the third time and each time more of it sinks in.

One of the bits that I hadn't read properly the first two times because it hit too close to home:

"The catch with emotional warfare is that it’s inflicted with far more stealth and elegance than abuse delivered by touch. Making it easier to accept, rationalize, forgive, page after page."

And the stealth also makes it so much harder to describe, to tell anyone, even years later, and be believed. So much more insidious so that you can be felled, years later, by a certain tone, a certain way of speaking. You think you've healed, moved on, and you have. But at the same time the wounds are still there.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:06 PM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


I knew a young woman -- by young I'm saying under 30, right in that age -- who was very attractive, thus continually in a whirl of men trying to get her attn. And she was used to this, and she liked it, and she hated it also; she knew that it was all a construct of whatever type, and she wanted to grow past it, and she was having real difficulty doing so. She talked about wanting to cut her face, to slash herself, to disfigure herself, she wanted to make the game stop so she could move on to being accepted for who she was, so that people would actually talk to *her* and not to her beauty. I saw her more than once taken to tears by the frustration that's in it all -- all being the whirl she lived in, her knowing that the whirl wasn't about her, and her craving that whirl and hating that she did want it as she did. I doubt she disfigured herself, and I sure hope that she didn't. It's been thirty years since I've seen her, but I've sure never forgotten her dilemma.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I just wish she'd entitled her memoir I Am Not Yours.

Her first memoir is called I Am Yours but apparently the second one is called I Am My Own. Here is an excerpt from it; an amazing and powerful read that probably deserves its own FPP.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2018


Yeah, after reading the summary with this line in it: "Attempted summary: attractive women have a particularly hard time getting others to take them seriously" I won't be reading the article. That is a load of grade A horseshit right there. I've been a young, conventionally attractive woman, and I am now a fat middle aged woman, and I was taken WAY THE ABSOLUTE FUCK more seriously when I was young and attractive.
posted by nirblegee at 5:43 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


The article is really worth reading and I don't think that summary does it justice.
posted by kokaku at 6:01 PM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I'm a fat, middle-aged woman and found the article worth reading. I don't think the summary you quoted is at all an accurate reflection of the essay.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:52 PM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: after reading the summary I won't be reading the article.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:07 PM on April 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


Well, To Kill a Mockingbird could be summarized as "small-town lawyer shoots dog, loses case" and The Scarlet Letter could be summarized as "woman works on her personal brand", but that doesn't mean those are accurate summaries. Why latch onto one person's description of it as a reason not to read it instead of, you know, starting to read it and deciding what you think of it yourself?

It didn't resonate with my own experience, but I found it interesting and worth thinking about.
posted by Lexica at 8:30 PM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm ugly and always have been but somehow I still find it possible to empathise with beautiful people who have to deal with shit based on assumptions rather than truths, which seems to me to be something that is not confined to the beautiful.

This is her story based on who she is and who people presume her to be and how she's been treated. It's very sad but told so well.
posted by h00py at 5:32 AM on April 19, 2018 [9 favorites]



Coming as it did from a woman whose appearance is obviously still a huge part of her professional and personal identity, I honestly don't know how to respond


is this a joke?

She casts herself as the victim and she blames herself. Does that mean we should blame her too

No.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:42 PM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have read this article so many times written by so many different people and I am sick of it. No more like sick from it.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:15 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Yeah, after reading the summary with this line in it: "Attempted summary: attractive women have a particularly hard time getting others to take them seriously" I won't be reading the article.

That summary is a seriously weird and dismissive take. A better summary would be something like: Former model/actress becomes aware of the extent to which sexual assault and objectification have suffocated her identity and agency.
posted by desuetude at 11:39 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


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