My Dear Friends and Readers,
I have been a walking mass of contradictions my whole life. My 1950’s Catholic up-bringing has always been in contradiction with my natural sexuality- yes, I am owning it. I am sexy.
This has been a very hard thing for me to accept- to own my sexiness. There was something else as well. I believed that it was my full 12 year old breasts and a sundress was what drove my father to rape me. No matter how many times I have intellectually told myself that it wasn’t my fault, buried deep within my heart, somewhere in a tiny little crack, I blamed my sexy curvaceous body. As a result I fought to starve my curves away and to prove I am smart- all the while using the body that I “hated” as a tool.
At 19, when I was in my Junior year at U.C.L. A. the war exploded. I was attending U.C.L.A on a full academic scholarship. I was living at an all white sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta , which is about two blocks from the East Gates of Bel Air. “Old Men” – forty and over were trying to pick me up in their luxury convertibles and the tight-end on the football team was trying to “date” me. I HAD TO STUDY!
I did not have time for fraternities, beer pong, and for college sorority life. I felt old and foolish, although younger than most of the Juniors on campus. I tried to be your typical college student, however, the guys driving in their luxury convertibles through the East Gates of Bel-Air and down Sunset Boulevard seemed to offer far more enticing activities. To short-circuit to the end of my college career, my grade point average was 1.9. down from a 3.7 from the Junior College I attended when I was 17 and 18.
I dropped out during the third and final quarter of my Senior year at UCLA when I was 20. My reasons were personal and painful and stemmed back to my family of origin who failed to acknowledge that I was graduating from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. In the six years afterward, I would pose for a Playboy center fold, shoot an album cover, work on two popular television shows and perform in two plays one cast and directed by by the famous actor and director, John Cassavettes. The other play which was reviewed by the Hollywood Reporter said “Pretty, but she didn’t know what to do with her hands”. I played the sexy nurse in the second play- the one where I did not know what to do with my hands. For the life of me, I did not know “what to do” to be the sexy nurse. I could not conjure what sexy meant for me -it was so automatic for me. This is one of things that can happen when you are sexualized at an early age. You think you are an object to be used sexually.
The war continued through my twenties with a stop at the Playboy Mansion as a Playboy Bunny. From that low point, I applied to graduate school at Northwestern and The Goodman School of Music. I interviewed with both was accepted to one. Neither felt that I was right for them. I took my next best option and went on air as a radio news writer. Seven years and four television stations later, I ended my television career as the first woman of color at KOIN the CBS affiliate in Portland, Oregon.
Alas, was I still just a pretty face, where someone else wrote the words? And why wouldn’t the television station let me air my piece on gay women making a difference.? So, once again I needed to prove how smart I was. I was not just a pretty face on a woman with large breasts! So, I applied to law school and was accepted. The cost of law school was my first marriage to a man who wanted to keep me as his private brown Barbie Doll and ultimately my six and eight year old sons.
As I got older in my late forties, I was amused that men found me “sexy”. What did that mean? Were they reducing me to an object? Couldn’t they see that I was smart?
Now, at 59 and less than a month from my 60th birthday, I can say I am sexy and I am smart. I am both and I need to prove neither.
In Growth and Self-Love,
Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes