This post is sensitive material. I suggest you not read if you are easily upset or are not in an environment where you can be upset.
I’m marching with my fellow sluts this Sunday at the Bobby Morris Field in Cal Anderson Park at noon. We’ll walk down Pine (Yay! My favorite street!) to Westlake Center and rally until 3pm.
I’m marching for personal reasons. I’m marching because I was sexually assaulted by a stranger in my apartment and then raped by a dear friend 2 months later last fall. I was embarrassed I was assaulted because I “let a stranger” into my home. I heard it from the guy I was seeing at the time. “I’m sorry it happened to you but you made a stupid decision.” Stupid? I never decided I wanted to be in a dangerous situation. I hadn’t decided I was in a dangerous situation. If I knew and I stayed in it I suppose I could see his point.
“I’m sorry you were raped but..” The but. But is a nasty conjunction. “I’m sorry but…”
I learned the lesson of using “but” a few years ago as a serious relationship ended. He pointed out I was wiping out my apology by following it up with an excuse.
The same thing happens in victim blaming. “I’m sorry this happened to you BUT you made a bad decision.”
Did you read the news a few weeks ago? About the man who was grabbing women in broad daylight at bus stops here in the Seattle/Tacoma area? Did those women also make bad decisions? No one would blame them would they? And that’s the thing that enrages me. Absolutely infuriates me to the point of tears every time I think about it.
A few weeks ago I was reading a message board thread about a father who is teaching his children to walk like ladies and not whores to avoid possibly sending out a subconscious invitation.
This kind of old school thinking is out of date and out of touch with reality. Why aren’t we teaching people it’s not okay to rape? Instead we’re telling them “Don’t walk by yourself late at night,” “Don’t wear a mini-skirt at a frat party,” “Don’t bend over,” “Don’t let people you don’t know in your house.” Some of these warnings are good measures of lowering risks and I believe in that, too. Its good to learn how to protect yourself and learn how to spot a dangerous situation but the truth is nothing is really “safe.” The truth is that some text book “dangerous situations” are not dangerous at all. I have let plenty of strangers into my home throughout my life and so have you, I bet. So if someone attacks you in your home are you going to blame yourself? Is that fair to you? How could you know something was dangerous before you knew?
That’s the lesson I have had to learn. Over the last 6 months I have slowly learned to trust myself, my instincts and to forgive myself for being so brutally harsh. Another person’s actions are not my fault. I hated the word “victim” because Personal Responsibility is so important to me. If I say I’m a victim that means I don’t have a role of responsibility in what happened.. that was very difficult for me to deal with. But I don’t have any. It was not my decision to allow someone to rape me. It wasn’t. That was their decision.
Some people said to me, after I was raped by the very close friend, that because I had previous sexual relations with him I had increased a danger? What? Yes! People said this to me! The guy I was dating last fall said that.. to me. To be fair, it is very difficult to deal with hearing news like that within such a short amount of time. Everyone deals with these things the best way they know how but that way is not good enough. Neither was the way I was dealing with it. Blaming myself, too. Feeling guilty for something I had no consent in.
This is not okay anymore. Shaming people in their traumatic events. No one ever shamed me when I lost control of my car a few years ago and crashed on the expressway. I was simply a victim.. There was black ice on the road and no one said to me, “I’m sorry you were in an accident but you shouldn’t have been driving when there was ice on the road. Too danger.”
I’ve also posed erotically for photos in my past and loved it. I speak openly about sex with anyone. Men and women. Did I put myself more at risk to being raped? Is that what we’re going to say now?
Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In this world, I know the things I say and do are not as conventional. It pushes the boundaries and that can have unpleasant consequences. Some consequences are brought on myself but not this. Not being raped or assaulted.
That is not my fault and being an open individual should not mean I am more at risk to be raped.
Do you know how little men respect what I say? It doesn’t matter if I say to them I have a boyfriend. It doesn’t matter if I say, “Please stop hitting on me, it’s starting to irritate me.” I say that a lot now (for my own sanity; to practice speaking up because I still have that “Nice Southern Girl” training). Countless times, I ask people to please stop speaking to me the way that they are or I tell them I am not interested and it never seems to matter. They push and push and PUSH.
That’s enough. I have always been an Equality Cheerleader (Men, Women, Straight, Gay, Transgendered, Youth, Seniors, various Cultures and “races”) and most often stuck up for men. I truly feel like masculinity has been squashed a lot in our current modern society. I’m an advocate for “letting a man be a man” *laughs*..
But let a woman be a woman. Let her enjoy herself. I wear “sexy” clothes because I love the way they look on me. I wear dresses because I love feeling womanly. I talk about sex (my own personal experiences and listening to others, sharing tips, theories and stories) because it’s a part of life and I feel there shouldn’t be a “thing” about it. It’s like talking about the latest book I read or meal I ate.
I am being the change I want to see in the world. I am just myself and I’m respectful to others. The worst part about the experiences I’ve had in the last year is that I feel less freedom to be myself.. I started to believe what people said to me, “There is something about you.. you’re so open that..” that what? That I’m up for grabs? That anyone can have me? I don’t blame people for saying or thinking the things they think, I only ask that rethink them because that kind of thinking is harmful.
1 in 60 men are rapists.
It’s an awful statistic. Until I confronted my rapist two days later, he hadn’t even thought of what he did as rape. I never gave him my consent. I was uninterested and he knew it. He was one of my closet friends. He knew. But more importantly I never said yes. Never. We always joked around about sex. I still joke around with my friends about sex. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this but now I’m scared. That is very un-April like. Now I’m scared to share with my male friends. Isn’t that terrible? it is. I wish I didn’t feel that way but I do most of the time. It’s something I’m working through.
I should be able to be friends with a man without worrying. I can’t believe I’m saying that in 2011. I thought we were past this but the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve noticed we’re not past it.
We’re doing great with accepting differences in sexuality, I think. We have a long way to go. We’re doing pretty okay with social equality compared to a few decades ago. Still a long way to go. This is part of it and that’s why I’m walking..
because walking down the street is not an invitation to have sex. Wearing sexy clothes doesn’t mean I want to, either. Doesn’t mean I’m remotely interested in you. You can look and enjoy all you want. There is nothing wrong with that and nothing I can do about it quite frankly. I don’t even think there is anything wrong with objectifying people. I do this all the time and so does everyone else. Hell, I objectify myself every time I like my own reflection in the mirror. But I’m appreciating my “surface.”
Objectification becomes a problem when respect is lost; when the person doing the objectifying feels entitled. You are not. It is always earned.
I, am always earned. Period.
Same for you. You are always earned.
As one slutwalk sign says, “Your erection is not my consent.”
I apologize for how scattered and unorganized this post was. There is too much to say about this, honestly. That is why I am walking this Sunday at Cal Anderson at noon. Because these excuses that exist, the subtle shift from the attacker to the victim, is harmful and makes this all the more difficult. This thinking has to change so that we can move on to a better world. One step at a time.