Archives for posts with tag: don’t rape me bro

Yesterday was hard. Just watching the world watching the Kavanaugh confirmation stuff going on was sufficiently painful to make for a difficult day. He’ll probably be confirmed. It’s a damning indictment against all of us, and this world we’ve built. Seriously. (I’m quite serious.)

…Which leads my morning musings elsewhere, because there’s more meat on this bone than one man’s plum lifetime government appointed gig; it’s about all of us. It’s about the way we listen. It’s about the way we treat others in their moments of pain, grief, and stress. It’s about how readily and easily we dismiss the concerns of others, most especially if we don’t experience life the same way, or suffer with the same disadvantages. It’s about privilege, and the dichotomy of having it versus not having it, and how confusing the chrysanthemum flower Venn diagram of privilege actually is, with its overlaps, and intersections. It’s about how little we care about the pain of strangers, and how quickly we minimize the pain of loved ones because (although we likely mean well) it is uncomfortable to share it.

Be considerate. Listen deeply. Understand that the experiences of others may not be your own – and that this does not invalidate those experiences! It’s less about trusting their narratives, and much less about their veracity and your willingness to believe, and so much about “basic human decency” and being considerate, just generally. I’m saying we could all do better on this one, and that we all do well to make the attempt.

I’m pretty fucking done with angry men shouting me down. I’m pretty fucking done with angry men deciding what my truth is. I’m pretty fucking done with being dismissed, diminished, shouted down, talked over, or patronized. I’m done with a whole fuck ton of bullshit. I’m pretty fucking angry, myself. So… what am I going to do about any of it? Well… I’ll for sure be voting. That’s one thing I can do. Speaking truth to power is another. Refusing to soften my tone, or yield my position, these are also things I can do. Already am. All those things. Still… I could do those things more skillfully, I’m sure.

It’s time, then, to begin again? Isn’t it always? 🙂

This morning is a nice one. I rested well, woke most pleasantly and just a bit ahead of the alarm. No nightmares. My just-waking-up headache quickly dissipated, leaving only my tinnitus behind, and it, too, doesn’t seem that bad, today. My coffee is hot, and tasty, and a bold reminder of drinking my coffee straight up, dark, and robust in other lives, on other mornings. I’m not shivering in the cold. I’m not sweltering in heat. I am comfortable and content.

For some moments this morning, I was troubled by a strange far off sounding jingling – a holiday jingling that was sort of cute and fun at first, and quickly started causing me some stress; I couldn’t place the source of the sound, and it seemed… everywhere. Thankfully, I realized – before that had gone on very long – I’d chosen it. Oh, not mindfully, nope; it’s very early in the morning and I’m not quite entirely awake. I put on colorful holiday earrings this morning…a cascade of tiny… wait for it… jingle bells. LOL Yep. I chased myself slowly through the house listening for the source of a noise that was immediately next to my ear, small, delicate, ceaseless. (I’ll resume wearing them when I get to the office. The background noise is sufficient that the earrings won’t seem so loud.)

Use your words.

Holiday cheer, and the power of words; speechless is not voiceless.

So far, this morning is as light and pleasant as yesterday’s was difficult. Yesterday ended well, and the day itself was productive and worthwhile – it’s certainly not one that I find myself moved to regret on any noteworthy level; it lingers in my memory in a largely pleasant way, after-the-fact. I enjoy the malleable qualities of the mind, having learned more about making them work for me.

It’s the small course corrections, over time, that have made the most difference for me. I’m saying that because some day I, myself, may need to read those words again… There is a lot of ugliness in the news, and it is so easy to drown in the despair that comes of trying to consume too much bad news too quickly. Those small course corrections happen every day, all around us, and even those entities of great evil that appall and terrify us aren’t static, and change is; it exists whether we embrace it or not. Change isn’t always easy to see, and those small course corrections, and small changes, are not always enough to ease our suffering in the moment – it’s ‘not enough’, somehow, to see some change in the face of great evil. Still, change is, and I had an odd moment yesterday that drove that message home for me.

The value of incremental positive changes over time is huge…but it is easy to lose sight of the improvements, because things can still seem so… status quo.  Two recent South Park episodes were illustrative for me: Season 18, episodes 9 #Rehash and 10 #HappyHolograms. I had never actually been exposed to the popular internet commentator, PewDiePie, or even the phenomenon he represents. I’m not his target audience, so I’m not super surprised. Why does it matter? Incremental changes over time do matter…he became relevant for me when I read this quote:

25 October 2012, Kjellberg posted a Tumblr message, stating “I just wanted to make clear that I’m no longer making rape jokes, as I mentioned before I’m not looking to hurt anyone and I apologize if it ever did.”

That’s actually a pretty big deal. The quote is linked and cited in the Wikipedia article, which tends to support its value as potentially true. A valuable, very real, relevant small course correction. Incremental change over time. It’s powerful – he has a voice, he uses it. Rape humor is controversial, and it’s dangerous territory to be casual and insensitive about; it’s very easy to hurt someone who has been traumatized by rape by carelessly joking about the topic. As a survivor, I still struggle to find the balance between handling the horror, and the healthy healing power of humor and laughter. Most of the comedy I favor doesn’t stray into rape humor territory – but some of it does. It matters how it is handled, and it was those clear simple words assembled by PewDiePie that pointed out what makes the difference [for me]: respect and consideration. When the humor targets the victims as yet another attack on their credibility, or their suffering, it isn’t funny, not at all, not even a little bit. When the humor points the laser beam of comedy at the heinousness of the crime, itself, at the perpetrators, at the culture that ‘doesn’t get it’ – that’s where the laughter is for me. South Park gets it right, seating Bill Cosby on a couch next to Taylor Swift, holiday music playing, a glass of wine the focus of the scene…but we can’t hear what is being said, the voice-over is deliberately louder, distracting…social commentary, comedy genius. Funny enough that it didn’t really warrant a trigger warning. Subtle enough to avoid liability, and unlikely to frighten children. I laughed and laughed. I watched it again. I laughed more. I watched it yet again, and began find the details and references I’d missed the first two times. I’d send Matt Stone and Trey Parker holiday cards and well wishes this year, if I knew them. I’ll probably watch it again, soon. 🙂

Change is. Small changes matter – over time they become larger. I see hints of change in our culture. I see more people finding their voice – and using it. I see more human beings reaching across the details that divide them to recognize we’re all in this together. This morning, I feel encouraged and alive…I’m not sure why. It’s a lovely feeling to start the day on.

Today is a good day to pause and appreciate the change that is.

This morning I am sitting here in the quiet of dawn, and contemplating this sweet chill moment of satisfaction and contentment; I want for nothing. At least right now, this very specific and limited immediate moment of now, I am not experiencing desire, hunger, craving, yearning, or any urgent sense of need. It’s lovely.

It got me thinking, though, of recent tragedies, and lives lost to the dark side of desire: entitlement, jealousy, possessiveness, attachment, and yes, craving, yearning, wanting, ‘needing’ – those urgent hard-to-resist feelings that say there is something amiss in the world when some object, experience, or person is not available for ownership, possession, or purchase. I doubt it is the desire itself that is the challenge. My own experiences tell me that the difficulties (and horrors) develop when a person is overcome by the conviction that some outcome is their due. Expectation. Demand. Entitlement.

I’ve struggled with it, too. It’s very human to want something or someone so badly that it takes over reason and good sense, destroys compassion and consideration, impedes respect, or seems to justify bad behavior; it isn’t appropriate to take action on those feelings in any way that encroaches on someone else’s will, personal liberty, control of their own body, sense of safety, or freedom to withhold consent.  Rapists are a problem, and the lack of consent is the defining thing, and even in the face of the obviousness of it there manages to be discussion about it, as if there is some permissible amount of non-consensual conduct that is acceptable. (There isn’t.)

It took me a long time to get here. I have been wading through a lot of wreckage, and looking back on me over the years, I owe a number of very good-hearted people apologies of one sort or another; damage doesn’t truly excuse being a shitty human being.  I have struggled with myself, and I still do, figuring out the consent piece, for myself, as I find my way in the world.   I wasn’t exactly brought up to respect my own boundaries, to expect that my consent – or lack of it – would be respected, or even to say no and mean it in clear, explicit terms.  The result? I sometimes didn’t treat other rape survivors well; I treated them as badly as I treated myself. I didn’t understand the nature of consent, or that the word ‘no’ had any power to change events. My own experiences didn’t support that. I didn’t understand it is my right to choose, to say yes or no, and to have those choices be accepted and honored.  I spent years as an unwitting accomplice to rape culture; the survivor-apologist, so busy being ‘accountable for my own actions’ that I was willing to excuse my violation.  Getting past that and building a healthy understanding of the sanctity of my consent has been a complicated battle.

[Are you listening? It isn’t too late to show yourself compassion, to respect your own pain, to stand on your values and say ‘no’. It’s okay, too, to feel shame at the damage you’ve done as a tool in your own destruction – and to choose another path, now. You said it would matter if just one woman, one survivor, would say “I’m sorry I made things worse.” I’m here. I’m one woman. I’m sorry.]

So… here we all are… talking about the issues more openly, more insistently, more frankly. That, in spite of the pain and the circumstances, is an important step forward.

In the midst of pain, there is still beauty.

In the midst of pain, there is still beauty.

Today is a good day to talk about difficult subjects honestly. Today is a good day to be compassionate and concerned. Today is a good day to respect myself, and others. Today is a good day to change the world.

My ‘independence’ is old enough to vote…now that’s a weird thought. In 1995, after 14 years, I ended my first marriage on July 4th.  It was – and remains – a very important moment in my life. I could probably write volumes about the years that lead up to that moment, the years that followed, the changes that were required to get to that point, and the changes that were required to succeed after it. I’m not going to. Not today, anyway. Today, I will write about my independence now; what it is, and what it isn’t [yet].  I guess it is only fair to provide a TRIGGER WARNING: this post contains subject matter and points of view that are frankly feminist in nature, and may be disturbing for some readers.

Take a moment for another perspective?

Take a moment for another perspective?

I make jokes about Independence Day, because the U.S. holiday of July 4th, the anniversary of ‘our nation’s independence’, is not truly celebrating the freedom of ‘the nation’ – it mostly only celebrates the existence of our independent government, and the nominal freedom it provided to the white male population. I know, I know, some of you are already groaning in protest. (One of my partners did – and I consider him a committed feminist, himself.) Think it over, though – women were no more free after the birth of our nation than they were before it, and neither were ethnic minority elements of the population – I can’t even call them ‘citizens’, because at that time they were not recognized as such. So…how again is 4th of July a celebration of my freedom or independence? Women didn’t get to vote until 1920. Um…what? (I can’t say I’m all that secure in my rights, either, considering that even in 1920, it was not a unanimous vote (it wasn’t even close to unanimous), and there are likely elected representatives today who would quite willingly disenfranchise women again, based on how many legislators seem to think they are within reason to keep trying to jam laws down my pants that limit only women’s rights and freedoms: abortion, birth control, emergency contraception .)  Sometimes it really does feel like there is a ‘war on women‘.  I seethe with the frustration and feeling of helplessness and cultural dismissal some days.

So yeah…mixed feelings about ‘Independence Day’. For me it seems a bit like a Druid celebrating St Patrick’s Day. lol.  BUT – the 4th of July is my ‘Independence Day’, in spite of all that, because it is the day I walked away from domestic violence. It represents the earliest stirrings in my heart and spirit of real self-worth, of real conviction that I am not chattel, and not obligated to live someone else’s values or vision for the future. (I did not know then how much further I had to go to free myself, or begin to heal.) I read Gloria Steinem‘s ‘Moving Beyond Words‘ for the first time – I still regularly recommend it, and I cherish the correspondence I exchanged with Ms Steinem that year.  I began to invest my attention in being female – a humble beginning, and I had no idea how far I would have to go.

I’m hoping to communicate something specific here, today, and I’m not sure I have the words, the will – or that I am the one truly ‘called’ to say it.  It needs to be said, by someone, and I need to feel heard – so I guess I’ll make the attempt.  I want to communicate simply this: there is an association between ‘rape culture’, domestic violence, and the concept of consent.  Does that seem an obvious truism? Are you having a ‘well, duh!’ moment? I sure hope not… because it is that matter of consent that I suspect of being at the heart of a lot of our suffering, as women (and as men – I love you guys, I don’t want you to feel left out, and I know you face challenges and heartache, too, but I’m writing about my experience today – please don’t take that personally).

I am still working through years of emotional baggage, and damage both physical and psychological, related to abuses that created, fostered, and later capitalized on a poor understanding of consent, and what my consent means – and I just turned 50.  I know my poor relationship with, and understanding of, consent itself is directly tied to early experiences where my lack of consent, or clear refusal, was violated – and that years of manipulation and further abuse were both possible due to that damage, and worsened because of it.  It’s ugly, and about as easy to fix as picking a single strand of brunette hair from a vat of molasses. At least I finally feel like I am understanding…something. I still have a lot to learn.

I woke gently this morning, and although my thoughts have been quite serious on the anniversary of the end of my first marriage, I am enjoying the day.  So much so, that first thing I playfully took a look at life from another perspective this morning…

Life from another angle...child's eye view.

Life from another angle…child’s eye view of my garden.

Things look different, from another perspective...

Things look different, from another perspective…

I admit to struggling with understanding beloved male friends who respond to feminist protestations about rape with objections that ‘men are raped, too’ – as if that makes women being raped ok, or not worth objecting to, or as if they will not move to change the world, or their own position, because… well, damn… I’m not sure why. Thus, my struggle. I mean… yes, men do get raped, violated, abused, and yes, sometimes their perpetrators are women. I don’t see that those details make women facing domestic violence or rape any less objectionable – I object to all of it. Rape is not ok. Violence is not ok. Ignoring someone’s boundaries or disregarding their lack of consent is not ok. Does it matter whether it is a woman being victimized or a man? An adult or a child? Isn’t it all worth objecting to, and fighting against? Rape statistics are ugly.

Rape and domestic violence (actually, a lot of violence of many sorts) share something relevant to this discussion – they both violate the consent of the victim. Clearly.  There are no excuses. It isn’t ok to mutilate someone’s genitals to control their sexuality, or to punish infidelity. It isn’t ok to hit someone because you don’t like their tone of voice, or what they said to you.  It isn’t ok to force unwelcome sexual contact on another human being under any circumstances at all, ever. EVER. By anyone. For any purpose whatsoever. There is no justification, no excuse, no mitigation. It isn’t ok to torture someone to ‘teach’ them (A rather disturbing amount of parental behavior in some families falls into this category; test that theory by re-examining any such behavior in the context of being inflicted on an adult human who is a stranger to the perpetrator).  Behaviors engaged in to exact non-consensual control over another human being are similarly not ok (I know, that starts getting complicated when parents need to manage children, or the penal system needs to manage the incarcerated, doesn’t it?).  I’m spelling it out because I’m only learning to understand it for real and apply it to my own experience in life with regard to the treatment I tolerate from others! At 50 that’s damned embarrassing sometimes – other times I just cry about it, alone.

... just in case you need a breather from the serious stuff

… just in case you need a breather from the serious stuff

I’m spending a lot of time these days figuring out consent. I find myself looking back on some events or relationships and asking myself  ‘Oh hey, was I the bad guy there? Did I violate that person’s boundaries? Was their experience that they were forced to do something they didn’t want to do?’  I find it harder, strangely, to look back and admit that I was victimized, to recognize that an event was not ‘a gray area’ at all, and that my lack of consent or explicit refusal was clearly disregarded.  In my 20s I tended to use the ‘gun test’ – “___ wasn’t at the point of a gun, therefore I was not forced.”  Rape apology at its most basic: exclude the event by changing the standard.   I had also figured, for years and years, that ‘frequency invalidates legitimacy’ – that because I had experienced sexual violence more than once, that it couldn’t have been sexual violence – because that’s rare, right? 😦  Right up there with ‘slut shaming’ for being both wrong and inappropriate.

It’s all very complicated and I cry about rape a lot these days. They are clean, honest tears. They honor my experience with real compassion, and acceptance. I am learning to treat myself well, and to understand that ‘getting over it’ and ‘moving on’ are not just words on a page that can be said out loud with a confident satisfied tone and magically become real, or true.  I know that with certainty – because I have done it, and it didn’t work at all.  I’m not ‘over it’, and ‘moving on’ is something that means facing my experience and healing.  I am strangely as proud of being in this place with myself as a child tying my shoes by myself for the first time – I feel hopeful, and I feel free.  That is what makes this my Independence Day now.

mindfulness in the garden; the value of finding stillness

mindfulness in the garden; the value of finding stillness