Archives for posts with tag: rape culture

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? ūüôā

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.

I imagine people cry in Las Vegas frequently. It seems like the sort of city that could provoke it, under a variety of circumstances.  The experience of  Las Vegas is intense; there is just so much going on, continuously.

Las Vegas at Sunset.

Las Vegas at Sunset.

I’ve had a great time in Las Vegas, so far. Great accommodations, and in another post, on another day, I’ll link places that impressed me. This is not that post. It wouldn’t be fair to all the wonders of this city, or this hotel, to do that here, because right now I am crying in Las Vegas.

I’m not even sure these are ‘my tears’. I’m tired. I’m overloaded with new information, professionally. This is a very busy and very successful conference, and I’ve learned a lot that has value, and rates further contemplation, and future action. ¬†I am, however, crying right now. I’m not even fighting it. I got back to my room before the wave of emotion overtook me, and there’s some comfort in that, because I can just give in to the tears. Perhaps another time I’ll write more about those, too, but there are already many strong voices on the subjects of rape, of gender, of parity, of suffering, of the everyday lack of decency, consideration, and goodness. ¬†Those strong voices are already shouting into the wind. Right now, I am not that strong. ¬†I’ll cry awhile instead, splash some cold water on my face, and get back to work.

This trip has been ‘all about people’ in a beautiful, very open way. That’s worth celebrating. So, I’ll cry awhile longer, and consider the people I’ve met here and the stories they have had to tell. Eventually my tears will dry, and I will once again feel a smaller part of a much larger whole, with my own story to tell; and words rather than tears will flow. ¬†In the meantime, I’d like to introduce – Las Vegas people.

Hotel staff...

Hotel staff…

...Of all sorts...

…Of all sorts…

...at all hours.

…at all hours.

Practical work that goes on almost continuously...

Practical work that goes on almost continuously…

...in the sun, in the heat, in the background.

…in the sun, in the heat, in the background.

Shopkeepers with a dizzying array of goods, open almost 24/7.

Shopkeepers with a dizzying array of goods, open almost 24/7.

Street performers...

Street performers…

...girls in costume, and more. (Superheroes, cartoon characters, celebrity look-a-likes...)

…girls in costume, and more. (Superheroes, cartoon characters, celebrity look-a-likes…)

Las Vegas is a city of illusions for sale, for business, pleasure, and consumption. ¬†It’s still a city. These are still people, each with their own story to tell. ¬†Each storyteller bringing something to the tale of humankind that is worthy of a moment of attention;¬†honest, heartfelt, and fearlessly engaged.

Not every story is a fairytale.

Not every story is a fairytale.

Today is a good day to say thank you. Today is a good day to be grateful. Today is a good day to be aware that we are each having our own experience.

 

Words are powerful. What we say can change our experience. What we hear can change our understanding of the world.  Sometimes words seem insufficient. Sometimes words are so visceral as to become unspeakable. Sometimes sharing the words that describe our pain, our trauma, our suffering, or the horrors we fear in our darkest nights, is more than we can bear to do, however badly we need to hear those words aloud.

A lens, a mirror, a metaphor.

A lens, a mirror, a metaphor.

I went to my appointment yesterday. Words were spoken that I didn’t expect to hear in my own voice, maybe never in my lifetime. I did not know I had the will to speak them. The journey ahead of me is still a long one. I have come so far… there is so much farther to go.

Maybe words are just too much, even now. Letters are enough, more than enough: PTSD, MST, TBI. It’s still not ‘easy’ to talk about some things. It’s getting easier to accept the unspeakable, to give myself compassion, to take a moment to treat myself well.

I do have words for those along the journey who have offered directions, a light in the darkness, a moment of rest, or comfort; “thank you”. ¬†If I’ve hurt you along the way, lashing out in fear and rage and grief without thought, I have words for you, too; “I’m sorry”.

If you are suffering, now, treading water in your unfathomable icy sea of pain and regret and hurt, or considering your own ‘final solution’ to the chaos and damage, just wanting a moment to rest, beyond caring about beginnings and ends, I have words for you, too. “Please.” (That’s the first of them.) “Please, be a survivor, not a victim; don’t let pride, shame or fear make you a statistic. Don’t let trauma win. Ask for help. Talk about it. Use your words. If you’ve got to go down, go down fighting – you matter.”

Ask for the help you need. If you can, you may find the healing you seek.

Dawn.

Dawn.

Wow. I dislike what ‘news’ has become.¬† Political corruption? Hardly news-worthy, it’s an everyday thing, and it will continue to be for as long as we elect corrupt or corruptible human beings to positions of power.¬† It would be nice if a politician had to accept that role with the clear contractual understanding that he or she could not ever personally profit from that role in a direct way, or if anyone in power were ever actually held accountable for what they themselves force the nation to endure by their decisions or actions.¬† This is not an article about politics, or news.¬†¬† I found it profoundly adult to hear Angelina Jolie go public with her account of choosing a double mastectomy over her very high risk of aggressive breast cancer…and found myself dismayed and in some cases disgusted that anyone would choose to criticize her choice; it was hers to make. Period. It’s a shame that women without that level of income, or those resources, don’t have the opportunity, realistically, to make that choice themselves. This is not an article about breast cancer, or the limited health choices that women without means face, or feminist issues of gender-limited personal freedom and choice.¬† Not a day goes by that the news doesn’t have another story about rape, and equally heinously, another story about what women ‘can do to prevent being raped’; rape is prevented by people not committing non-consensual sexual acts against others, it isn’t more complicated than that. Don’t rape.¬† The news these days just isn’t worth reading most of the time.¬† Not because the information isn’t valuable, not because some of what is observed isn’t newsworthy, but because the presentation of so much information is tainted with bias of one sort or another to the point that it isn’t ‘information’ at all; it is marketing, propaganda, spin, color, or outright lies. ‘Fact-checking’ relies rather heavily on someone, somewhere, being able to tell the difference between fact and opinion. lol.

I’m frustrated by how easily my balance can be disturbed by the media. ‘News’ that is intended to distress, to frighten, to alarm, to ‘call to action’ rather than inform, advise, or enlighten isn’t ‘news’ at all – it is an attack on my consciousness. I avoid it. I ask friends to stop sending me links to things. Ah, but we all use Facebook, don’t we? Well, I still do – some very dear friends and loved ones use it as their primary form of communication, long distance.¬† It’s hard seeing some of the things people post. More and more of my friends use ‘trigger alerts’, which I value. I’m using them more, too.

28 days… one menstrual cycle away from being 50. lol.

Spring is still unfolding all around me. I love the walk to work in the mornings; strolling past each neighbor’s garden, seeing the flowers opening day by day, feeling the soft chill morning air against my skin, or perhaps a tender misty rain falling – like this morning.¬† I keep returning to my own garden, morning and evening, watering, watching, loving…

Kiss of Desire, kissed by a misty morning rain.

“Kiss of Desire”, kissed by a misty morning rain.

I love the colors of morning, and the surprises…

"Graham Thomas" blooms for the first time this year.

“Graham Thomas” blooms for the first time this year.

Last year we picked out some roses likely to do well in this garden. “Graham Thomas” was one, and already quite large and eager to take his place as master of the central flower bed.¬† I’m quite delighted, also, with “Ebb Tide”; covered with buds and blossoms of a rich deep purple.

"Ebb Tide" wowing me.

“Ebb Tide” wowing me.

Old favorites draw my eye, too, and I smile even thinking seeing “Baby Love” on the other end of my walk home tonight.¬† Selected with sentiment and love, she was the featured rose of my last garden, a much smaller space – too small for my grand plans. lol.

"Baby Love" will bloom like this through the year and well into November.

“Baby Love” will bloom like this through the year and well into November.

My garden is a sanctuary where ‘the news’ can’t reach me.¬† When I’m in my garden, I am in the moment, aware, engaged, and being on this extraordinary other level.¬† Still working on mindfulness practices I am hoping will one day be very natural in my experience, as natural as stepping into my garden.

A mystery rose.

A mystery rose.

…Life has a lot of lessons to share, a lot of mysteries to reveal. Perhaps one day I will find mindfulness an easy part of being, and figure out what that mystery rose is, or find the words to tell the world “You have no power over me.”

In the meantime, I meditate, practice mindfulness, consider my Big 5, learn better skills for taking care of me, and hope to ask the questions that reveal my own heart to me most clearly.¬† In between, I garden.¬† ūüėÄ