By Agnes Midi-Keita
“Write. Illustrate. Creatively express what comes to your mind when you hear the word Desire” says the moderator to the plenary.
I sit at the table, wondering,
‘do I dare? I dare not. Will I be judged; be perceived to be prudish, too conservative? Possibly not progressive; not feminist enough?
‘I’ll let them go first,’ I think to myself and watch in amazement how those around me share their views on Nicki Minaj, self-pleasure, feminist porn, vaginas and much more, without reservation, without inhibition.
’Young women these days are so empowered,’ I think to myself.
My desire has for so long been defined and controlled by someone else: my teachers, my mother, my partner. Expression of that desire has always been portrayed as deviant, taboo, or associated with promiscuity, immorality and being very ‘un-ladylike’.
Whatever that means.
I pick up the pink marker and write the words ‘FREEDOM + SELF – LIBERATION’ and exhale deeply – a freeing feeling overwhelms me; my desire and its expression has been so caged, so controlled, so defined for too long. My desire has changed, morphed and evolved over the years and throughout that metamorphosis I have felt both scared and ashamed. My desire has sparked curiosity within me that I have suppressed, it has misled me and I have in the past mistaken it for love. It has erupted in ways that have been very confusing and yet too strong to contain; my desire has been a journey – a very lonely road that I have had to navigate in the dark, on my own. My desire has been used to judge me, to label me, to stereotype me but never before has my desire been used to liberate me, uplift me, to break me free from those thoughts, ideas, ideologies, opinions that have chained me and imprisoned my it– the most authentic, bare, naked expression of ME.
With the stroke of the pink marker pen, I daringly realize that my desire is
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