Monday, March 25, 2013


It took a long time to allow my emotional mind the freedom to write the essay A Correspondence Between Strangers; I spent countless hours over a number of years toying with what I would write if I were to write such an essay - and of course I would never write such a thing. But if I did...??  And like so many things that we fear needlessly the writing was one of the more pleasant and easy things I've ever done. I had a terrible time allowing it to stay written however. Every so often a panic would rise in me and a wicked notion to delete the essay would seize me. So in order to keep myself from that danger I would find some activity to occupy me until the panic passed.  

However there were also passing flights of euphoria at having emptied my mind and heart of such dreck. I've cried a lot. Tears for broken love affairs mostly and for  opportunities I missed out of low self-confidence. Tears for too much time spent as a wall flower when I should have been in the sun blooming. But these weren't bad tears. They were just tears of compassion I believe. Because I don't feel the same kind of ache  and despair with these tears, these are clean and refreshing tears. Not that I have much to compare them with: I didn't used to cry very often, in the past, after all one can't squeeze a flow of tearfall from a frozen lake.

Random thoughts come to me. The boy Malik Richards who was charged with the rape of the Steubenville girl, collapsed into his lawyers arms upon sentencing and sobbed "My life is over! No one will want me now!!''

Ironic considering that is exactly how a rape victim feels on most days when she is consumed with dreadful thoughts of the life that is passing her by because she cannot participate though it is a non-participation against her will. But fear is a deeply powerful motivation, even when it functions as un-motivation.

I find myself thinking again and again the soda machine room where I had to tell the Chief of Security about how the guard in my dorm assaulted me. I find myself wondering why the hell the man didn't usher me to sit down in an office. Why would he stand there and watch a frightened and hysterical girl cry like that as she reported such a humiliating assault? Who does that? I can't understand if perhaps he too was in shock or if he was just clueless. Was it sheer unkindness? I remember how I spoke barely above a whisper. I don't even remember if he asked me questions or not. But everytime I think of standing in the room with the soda machine, the man's office only steps away, I see that young girl and I get so fucking angry.  I get so angry that no one was kinder to her. It took a great deal of courage to come forward even if that courage was born out of the fear that in less than 24 hours that sick man who was meant to guard my dorm would be on duty. I was so terrified of seeing him again that I felt a burst of courage that propelled me to tell someone quickly.

Interestingly enough though it was my T-- best friend who insisted I report that incident. He was the only person I told besides C--- my other best friend who had also been assaulted and too afraid to tell. T--- insisted I tell and he was probably the smartest and most logical person I knew. If he said to tell I knew that it was the right thing to do. That and oh god....I could never dream of walking past that awful man again. Seeing him everytime I wanted to enter my own residence? No. NO.  NO!

We educate girls and boys that the word NO is a magic word. Once you say the magic word well, that's it isn't it? What else need be said? Hard-ons disappear and two people decide that instead of fucking, let's have a spirited game of gin rummy instead, eh? And of course a gentleman doesn't resent a woman's late last minute decision even if he did only just put the tip in....

And ladies only say NO when they really mean NO and not YES. Sometimes ladies get confused though and leave the NO-ing a little late. Well  if they are ladies and not that other kind of woman of course.Because if they are that other kind of girl then NO is just a teasing way to make it hotter and soon enough they'll be screaming YES YES YES. But NO means NO. Even when the NO feels like a wrong kind of YES, it's the right thing to do to STOP because NO means  NO.

My favorite mis-speak this past election season was the politician who said "Some girls rape easy." Meaning (I think) Yeah some chicks take things real hard don't they? It was just a fuck I thought. But I don't know. You'd have to ask him what the hell he meant. As I recall he said this was advice that his dear ole dad had given him during Man Talk About Women-Folk.

It's only been in the past three years that I first told about my experience of sexual assault. Oddly enough I fell in love with a cop. He was such an easy person to talk to. He was a character out of a strange fairy tale or something. A very pure intellectual type who translated medieval Latin prayers in his spare time.  I thought.... Whatever I thought I thought wrong.  I had fallen very in love. Though not successfully. 

 One more shameful chapter of failed and tainted love in my own private annals to be hidden away and kept secret, even from me.

The things that hurt us most are often the very things that make us feel ashamed. But why do we feel shame for things done to us against our will. That shouldn't reflect upon you but on the person who did the cruelty, be it a heartbreaker or a rapist.

An ugly pairing those two actors, not remotely similar of course. But heartbreak is a truth that we hide and bury, only digging up the bones of the dead love to mull over privately, in secret. To remind us why we are still so unwanted. Un-wantable.

A sexual assault is also buried so deeply, so effectively hidden that it often disappears into the psyche. It disappears but remains active upon the heart and the mind and the emotions.  It continues to do its dirty work upon you, inside you until you dig it up, show it the light and tell it in a loud voice that you don't want any part of it near you ever again.

NO! NO! NO!.
You aren't welcome here anymore, you rape!! Go away! Go away!! Go away!!

I don't know yet if it will obey. But this is the method I am using until I know more.

I haven't felt the waves of rape anger since I wrote A Correspondence Between Strangers  but of course rape anger is tricky and devious and cruel. It sneaks up on you on a sunny day when you are having  a lovely picnic with your loved ones. It comes out of the blue sky for no reason at all and seizes you in a hot flash with a rush of energy that gives you the strength of ten men. You could walk to the corner of your own house and lift that house off the ground and throw it five miles. You could leap up on your own feet and fly away in rage. There is no object on which to direct these mysterious, mischievous angers. There is no reason in the anger. It is a tornado that sneaks up on you  on a sunny day when you are having a lovely picnice with your loved ones and destroys you on the inside, though it leaves everything else just as it is. And your loved ones don't know why you've gone distant and cold. Nor do you.

Malik Richardson cried "My life is over!! No one will want me now!" I presume he was thinking of football. The impossibility of pursuing college football since that is reportedly the only way OUT of that town. I do feel for those two boys. They were privileged drunk bastards who raped and humiliated a defenseless and unconscious girl but I feel sorry for them. Juvenile detention is home to hardened rapists and they will be fresh meat.

But that girl. That girl. Her life is over. Who will want her now?          

Promiscuity is always a tempting rut to fall into after sexual assault. Rape  destroys any residual  mystery to sexuality after all. There isn't much left to fear. To actually obtain pleasure  out of the act is something of a reward. Sex is an act that is life affirming after all.

However  joyous return to the domain of sexual experimentation where she begins to re-instruct her body in passionate  release, the rapture of orgasm, and the exploration of pleasuring  her body with her chosen,  consensual  partner -- or alone -- can earn a girl a bad name. There is no winning.  Girls who do it too much, enjoy it too indecently, experiment with unseemly gusto become Whores; and girls who have not yet crossed into the comfort zone of return to sexual appetite can be judged unkindly as well, being called Frigid, or Ice Queens. These are petty, simplistic, ugly judgements. These soul destroying burdens and dismissive attitudes   hobble the healing process for survivors by denying women the right as human beings to recover, to re-discover themselves in a healthy manner  as sexual beings after enduring and surviving the humiliation, the torture of sexual assault.

Nevertheless this is the reality and nature of the  Get Well gifts from a misogynistic rape culture that refuses to face the enormity and severity of the damage done not only to individual souls, minds, bodies, and emotions, but to all of human nature  without regard to gender. Rape destroys the essential sanctity of the human body. Until we as humans recognize this fact and relentlessly dis-allow men to rape we shall go on destroying women and men generation after generation.

 In the lonely, quiet lulls between a survivor's rages and storms of anger that blow her hard won yet fragile peace apart again and again until healing is achieved, every survivor of sexual assault ponders the same question over and over, the very thing, in fact, that struck Malik Richardson immediately after his sentencing: What will become of me? Who will want me now?        


No comments:

Post a Comment