This confinement is definitely teaching me lots of lessons and I want to particularly thank my Lebanese therapist and Lioness Sandra and Trinity community for restoring my trust in my Lebanese compatriots. I wanted to cover sexual harassment in this article, something I wanted to speak about for years but never dared out of fear.
Having been educated in a girl school, and with an extremely packed schedule, I almost never went out. I loved my studies, I liked being at home and go to my friends girls place and mostly I adored dancing and ballet like nothing else. I would easily trade anything for an extra stretch or dance session. And the only guys I was exposed to during my teen years were my breakdance mates and my ballroom partners, a group of very genuine and respectful guys. So even when I would actually hear of sexual harassment I couldn’t actually picture it in real life. It was a sort of a filmy concept and I thought would never happen to me. Why would anyone fantasize about my splits or my backbends or my bending?
Yet I did get exposed to sexual harassment and until now I would simply shut myself down. Either out of fear or because I would keep convincing myself that this cannot be sexual harassment, that this cannot possibly happen to me. And why anyways would I be sexually harassed? This is ridiculous, I would think. Little I knew…
In France I firstly experienced sexual harassment in Paris, more precisely at the Lebanese house. Funny enough, it is the harassor who sent me to a therapist, probably hoping I would keep my mouth shut and would believe I was the weird one. One of my friends became aware of the situation and tried to mobilize the direction through an email to which she got an interesting reply. The reply was suggesting she might have provoked him.
Since that day, I completely lost my trust in Lebanese guys. Since that day, something happened and I started to see things I wouldn’t see. Only that I would not dare to react properly. I was scared that I would just be dismissed like I got dismissed by that reply. So I would just avoid situations where I might feel uncomfortable and that might expose me to risks. This is the main reason I never felt comfortable giving classes at the Lebanese house. I just didn’t feel safe, but not necessarily because I would be stared at or would be given an inappropriate comment, but because I wouldn’t know how to reply and how to protect myself.
Well it did…Sadly in the country where I grew up there is so much of it. Guys would think girls should behave. Funny enough, but I did tell my dad about the incident later, I did explain my mistrust for his compatriots and I got no reaction. It made me feel pitiful and unprotected.
Since now I saw only the bad side of guys, I kept reacting innerly unhealthily by not reacting, hence attracting unconsciously exactly the type of guys I mistrusted. The ones that would tell you ‘’you should surely have more experience than me’’, ‘’what is your perfect penis length’’, ‘’why do you need time to make it’’ , ‘’you don’t believe in gender equality’’, ‘’you are so narrow-minded’’.
Now from Lebanon let’s switch to India. As a girl I did get lots of messages from Indian guys too. Yet, I was already more immune and well aware of the situation of gender equality issues and properly coached by my Indian best friends. Most of my Indian friends I truly befriend or talk to are respectful to me. Why? I was taught to bark when things go wrong, and if they end up going wrong, well I wouldn’t end up mistrusting the whole nation and feeling unsafe. Because my unconscious security reference (my dad) is not Indian and because I know that my trustful Indian friends will have my back.
Aha, so now we get to the point. Your father is your sense of security and when this sense of security is screwed, you have to build your security from scratch. I was very lucky all this happened to me in France. Because in Lebanon, if your security reference, your dad, is screwed, you gotta be lucky or have the guts to make it and the society will suck your blood out of you.
In France, I was very grateful to my landlord who made me feel safe the day I complained about my roommate. I am grateful to the French police for making me feel safe, and I am grateful to all those awesome assertive and strong ladies and coaches who rebuilt me from scratch when I was weak.
Today I decided that I will still train in the kitchen, whether he is there or not and convinced myself to go online.
When I was first offered to teach a stretch class at the African house, I hesitated. But the way people welcomed me there, and particularly the fact that the majority of the guys made me feel safe and befriended me and respected my input, made it one of the best experiences of my life. This is when I fell in love with flexibility from a teacher’s perspective. Your students love the way they feel during it and by the end of the class and you love the way you make them feel.
It always made me upset like nothing else when some people gave it a dirty sexual connotation or when someone made me feel uncomfortable.
So today when I needed this last push to go online, I thought of the smiles and the thrill of my students who respected me and made me feel loved and to whom I was able to be a source of joy and happiness too. And I went live… <3