August 21, 2012

Thank you, Todd Akin

I can't keep quiet any more.  Thank you, Todd Akin.

And less sarcastically, for inspiring me to finally write my first public piece, thank you Eve Ensler, quoted from her response to Representative Akin here:
You used the expression "legitimate" rape as if to imply there were such a thing as "illegitimate" rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.

I, like many of the women I know (and many of the women YOU know, whether you know it or not), am a survivor of rape.  I am a survivor of several rapes.  It is not an easy thing to say, to any one at any time, let alone to try and say it to the entirety of your facebook community, where this post originated.  But here's my story. (For those of you who avoid such things, trigger warning & naughty language ahead)

I was 25.  I was out with a friend. We'll call her B.  She was something of a Bad Idea Bear... the little devil on my shoulder that would convince me to do things that my little angel knew I'd regret in the morning.  Clearly, my choices were my own, but she definitely helped me make them.

I was in the midst of a rough divorce, and she was determined to help me regain my self-esteem and confidence with men.  We were at a bar, both flirting with the bartender, hereafter known as Dog.

Dog is graciously providing us with deeply discounted drinks, and I'm enjoying the attention. B is cheering me on. Dog's shift is over, and he convinces a now rather unsober me-and-B duo to join him at this great piano bar. Off we go, staggering away in his car. (Are you keeping count of how many mistakes I've made yet, and how this is all terribly my fault, and I brought it all on myself?  Exactly... keep counting, there's more coming...)  At the piano bar, I don't remember much, except that it was such a classy joint, they only served beer and wine, and I don't drink beer.  Dog insisted on choosing a great red wine for me, despite my assertion that red wines give me migraines, but not wanting to be rude, I acquiesced.  When the piano bar closed down, Dog convinced B & I to head to his place to keep the party going.  I vaguely remember staggering into a cab, and feeling utter shame at what the patrons and the staff must think of me, and I think I caught a look of sympathy from either a doorman or another bartender who caught me once as I tripped.

We get to Dog's place, and I'm in the head lolling stage of my drunk.  B & Dog are still conversing amiably (in retrospect, I believe they were probably both functional alcoholics).  At one point, I remember thinking how smoooth I was, because I was able to hide the fact that I was vomiting by just swallowing.  Anyone else who's had that thought knows - you actually haven't been smooth.  B helped me to the bathroom to clean me up.  (I was still cleaning pink stains out of the stitching on my leather coat weeks wine, remember?).

After that embarrassment cleared, Dog guided us into his bedroom.  All 3 of us laying on the bed just drunkenly talking and being... drunk.  At some point kissing started, in which B was involved.  When Dog started getting more aggressive, she stands up and says "Nope, I don't want any part of that." and walks out of the room.

(the bitch fucking left me there - after he had shown that he was sexually aggressive and didn't give a fuck about consent.  she fucking left me alone with him)

I remember telling him I didn't mind making out and stuff, but I didn't want sex. I said no. I was drunk, I wasn't in complete control of myself. I put myself in really compromising situations with untrustworthy people. I fucking said no. Did I stab him?  Did I push him off?  Did I scream and yell and cry? Or did I just lay there, and wait for him to be done with me, since clearly he didn't care about my opinion anyway?  Roll over, go to sleep, and do the walk of shame in the morning.  One more notch in the slut shame hall of fame.

A few days later, I was talking to B about our random drunken escapades and drunken regrets.  I told her "Yeah, so that night with Dog?  Not that I'm going to press charges or anything, but it really could be construed as rape.  I did tell him I didn't want to have sex... he just pushed right on anyway."

Did I mention that B is a rape survivor herself?  But hers was "legitimate."  Home invasion, serial rapist.  Nation wide coverage.  Big trial, conviction, the whole bit.

I stepped in a land mine.  "HOW DARE YOU COMPARE WHAT I WENT THROUGH TO A DRUNKEN ONE NIGHT STAND REGRET?!?!"  She immediately regaled me with full details of what happened to her.  Admittedly, it was horrific.  But suddenly, because she had suffered horrendously, I wasn't allowed bodily autonomy.

It wasn't until about a year ago that I could admit to myself that I had been raped at all without qualifying it with "could be construed as" (I muttered the magical word NO!, but it was still my fault).  I am an imperfect victim, I am quite sure many will say I brought it on myself (when I told my own mother, her response was "Hopefully with time, you can forgive yourself.").  But at the end of the day, whether I put myself in a risky position or not, a man felt entitled to use my body in a way I did not consent to. When I confided in a friend, I was promptly told that my experience of violation was ILLEGITIMATE. 

You want to know how to make a person who already feels worthless feel any smaller?  Just let her know that the abuse of her person isn't worth being concerned about.

I've talked to my friends a lot lately.  You know that statistic about 1 in 4 women have been raped or molested?  It's bullshit.  It's more like 3.5/4.  Chances are, your wife, your mother, your sister, your friends, your daughters - at least some of them have been sexually assaulted.  They just don't tell you because it's shameful.  They don't tell you, because they don't want you to tell them that it was their fucking fault.  They don't tell you because women aren't allowed to know what violation of their own bodies feels like.  But we know.  And if we trust you enough, some day we'll tell you.  And when enough of us speak up about how much we've been hurt, hopefully you'll stop passing laws that hurt us.


entropy said...

You are not that small. No woman is that small. No victim of rape is that small.

The small ones are the rapists, and rape apologists who give cover to and support rapists and rape culture. Their double attack attempts to shame victims and legitimize those who are to self-centered and ignorant to understand that what they did was rape, and those who rationalize their actions (if ever considered) as not-rape.

Thank you for your first public posting.

Anonymous said...

I found your post from the FTB that brought me here. I completely understand what you mean about having to take the blame and shame. I have my own story, but I wrote it maybe a few months before this whole Akin crap came out and it became a hot topic. It was never meant to be read, and in a way it goes a bit off topic at times, but I was wondering if you were interested in hearing what kind of other experiences there are. It's really long though, so I wasn't sure if you would even want me to post it here.

Dubs said...

Anonymous: I told my story because, more than anything, I felt I had to. I'm more than happy to share your story either in my comment section, or as a separate post if you feel formatting would improve the way it's written (my story loses a lot in plain text... ).

It was utterly terrifying to write my story. I've told it to several people (including 4 therapists), but there was something unique about writing it with the express purpose of publishing it, and then ACTUALLY PUBLISHING IT. I cannot express to you the level of freedom and elation I have felt since I posted this, on Facebook, and here. Brute Reason has also given me the opportunity to share it as a guest post. SCREAMING my story as a legitimate rape. REFUSING to be told that I'm just a slut. It's an amazing, powerful feeling. If I can give you the forum to feel that way, by god, PLEASE TELL YOUR STORY!

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