At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me is a book by Amanda Tayte-Tait that unapologetically explores issues to do with rape, sexual abuse, gender based violence, mental health and suicide. A book so sharp worded, it opens up about everything that is wrong with the African culture and our worship of patriarchy. However, let me not be quick to give you all details, I want to do it slowly.
Having been selected to be one of the early readers of the book, right before its release. I thought it wise to write this short /book review. But before we start, an important message.
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Part 1 of At What Age Does My Body Belong To me
At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me published on the 26th of January, 2021 is a two part book. Each part, more unique and intriguing. The first part of the book starts in the most intriguing way, with a suicide note. The note takes the form of poem, short sentences filled with pain and sadness. The letter is not only address to friends or family, it is addressed to the whole society. It is addressed to anyone who dares pick the book and read.
I’ve made the purchase…. Ready for my cocktail of death…. If you’re wondering why. It’s because this world is not for me…. And I’m woman enough to finally admit it…. I was 6 the first time…. The first time I lay down silently crying, defiled and in pain, the first time I became a slave….
The pain in the suicide note is the end to an even graver beginning. It is the calm before the hailstorm is unleashed. From this point, the book takes you into different highs and lows.
Chapter one is when we meet Mia, a young girl battling her demons as she is always reminded that she will never be married due to her not being a virgin. In her own words, she takes us through the evils of the society, and the hypocrisy. We are also able to meet her boyfriend, a manipulative young man. It is also at the moment we are treated to a non-consensual sexual encounter. Further engraving how rotten our societies has.
In the book, we are slowly introduced to all Mia’s demons. From being defiled at a young age. Being accused of wanting to tarnish her perpetrator’s future. We are continuously reminded of the woes that prison our society. However, another issue is introduced all together.
When he was asked why he abused me as a kid, he simply said that because it was done to him, he thought it was a normal thing to do.
The response alone reminds us of the many cases of child abuse hidden in our households. The normalcy that has been placed on such abuses. The negligence we have with the pain that the African child goes through. So much that they grow up thinking it is alright to inflict the same pain to others.
This starts a conversation of how our boys are silenced. How much pain they go through but remains swept under the rug. The violence bestowed on them, and yet have no one to protect them from such evils. Because their mothers are too worried about keeping their marriages than they are about protecting and loving their children. And then, these boys grow up to be the replicas of their fathers and the cycle continues. We continue to raise men that take women as their punching bags, and women are taught to endure it. Why? Because they are to be submissive to their men.
The final demon in part 1 was the self hate. Mia wanting to be ugly and unseen. Not wanting to be slim and slender to get any attention. Gaining weight so she could use it as a protective shield and a façade. Just for a man to make her wish she did not. A fast lesson that the men in our society do not care about what mainstream media will call pretty. They will sexualise every woman so long as you have a vagina.
Part 2 of At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me
The first part of the book was solid enough that it could stand as a book on its own. And just as intriguing as part one started, same goes for the second part of the book. It quickly gives us a glimpse of how Mia attempted to take her own life. How happy she finally seemed to be saying goodbye to a world that has given her nothing but pain. And somehow, as a reader, you cannot hide it, but somehow, the thought of her death gives you a bit of relief. Because, somehow, you too are tired of the thorns she has had thrown her way.
You share her happiness as she drowns herself in her poison. With the vivid words, you too start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then the stress attacks you when the suicide attempt fails. And we are in for a ride. From her family ruling her attempt to death as just an attention seeking job. Another reminder that a lot of African parents still do not understand the severity of mental health and just how bad it is.
However, unlike the first part of the book, this part we see Mia’s strength. Her new found freedom when she finally feels true pleasure from a partner that cares so much about her consent than just his orgasm.
Her strength when she learns how to say No, and fight those that choose not to respect her choices.
But, not all good things last. While she found her freedom, there were those trying to bring her down too. Her relationship with Sunshine is quiet fascinating.
Two broken souls trying to find some peace around each other. The first time we her shown of her sexuality. At the same time, there are hints of mental health issues that are subtly expressed through Sunshine. A woman so strong that she hides her past in the words she said.
I know I will stop for, at nothing, until my name is bitterly pressed within the book of women who suffocated all the lies they had been fed of their pores and excreted it out as art.Sunshine
It was also through Sunshine that we learned that women are truly never behind each other. In one of her poems, she said
Ladies, can we for a moment realize that just because today it’s another sister’s choice that we are dissecting like we all don’t have our imperfections, doesn’t mean tomorrow they are not here to drag you by your hairline for your choice either?
Issues of mental health and substance abuse still continued to rise. Over and over, we also saw the unsupportive parents come in. Like when her mother took her to a mental facility just because Mia was living with a lesbian. Further proving that Africans are still rigid to issues of homosexuality.
Thoughts on At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me
Amanda Tayte-Tait has managed to dissect well all the evils that surround our societies in the book. The book title, At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me? is a great question often asked by girls and women but no clear answer is ever given. The society has made sure to make girls know that their bodies never belong to them. That freedom is one that is never given.
In the book, Amanda pointed out through Mia that her body belonged to her parents, then her abusers, the society. All before it could be given to the man who would marry her. Never once was she given the freedom to claim her body as her own.
At What Age Does My Body Belong To Me? Truly, who knows the answer?
The book also made clear on everything wrong with Africa. Although set in Zimbabwe, each and every African girl-child can connect to the storyline. If not the rape, then the catcalls. If not the rape, then the sexual harassment. If not the rape, then the shaming of sexual abuse victims. If not the rape, then the normalcy of a society that worships patriarchy.
This book shows us everything wrong with us.
My recommendation is that you buy this piece of literature and see the brilliance of the words yourself. Such a beautiful book with beautiful lessons to be noted to those that choose to listen. The sequel of the book will be released soon, and I cannot wait to read it once it is out.
This is not a book for feminists, this is a book for those that want to change their societies and uproot the evil that is there.