A feminist outpost in the desert.
I just read Eve Ensler’s essay “Over It” and it really resonates with the space I’m in right now.
In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a snapshot:
I am over rape.
I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.
I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.
I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.
I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.
I am over how long it seems to take anyone to ever respond to rape.
Amen! A-fucking-men, sister!
As regular readers know, I’ve been talking about rape a lot lately. Rape tweets. Rape pages on Facebook. And to be honest, I’m tired of talking about rape. I’m tired of thinking about rape and all forms of sexual violence. I’m tired of how much being an advocate for a safer, violence-free community can be a trigger for me, as a survivor of sexual violence.
Healing the emotional and psychological wounds. Living with the memories. Unmasking that which terrifies you. Finding your voice in the dark. Smashing through silence and lies. Summoning courage from beyond yourself. Walking the talk every single day. These are the hardest parts of surviving sexual violence. The violation. The physical discomfort. Painful, sometimes excruciating, yes. Those can fade, with time. But the memory… the memory remains.
And the triggers of pain and memories… Dear God! It is enough to crush you! The very burden of it… Dear God. Dear God. Dear God.
The crisis at Penn State has been a huge trigger for me. There are too many elements that remind me of my own sexual abuse experience. My abuser was a very popular and charismatic man. Multiple times — over a period of nine years — different people helped to conceal and protect this man (including members of my own family). My heart bleeds for the children who were abused by Jerry Sandusky. I keep thinking about the moment in your mind when you jump from “Why me?” to “Why did no one stop him?” Why did no one care to protect me? Why was that man more important than me? Why was protecting money and status — things that are so small and insignificant in the long run — more important than protecting a human being? Why were other people’s fears more powerful than their desire to do the right thing?
Can you think of anything sadder than the crushed spirit of a child? When you are the child in that scenario, these kinds of questions take you to a dark place. A place where you question your own worth as a person and as a being worthy of life on this planet. (This is a good point to remind you that if you ever feel that low or dark, it is important to reach out and find a support system through resources like counselors, faith leaders, teachers, family members, friends… pretty much anyone that might be able to help you through that kind of darkness.)
I am weary and bruised from talking about sexual violence. I am beyond “over it.”
I am angry that I have to keep talking about rape and incest and molestation and rape mills to “fix” lesbians and all the forms of sexual violence that lurk in the evil places in humanity.
I feel weak. I feel small.
Small because I know so many who are working in the trenches every single day. Counselors and crisis professionals. Advocates. Activists. Survivors who have turned their pain inside out to make a difference. They are the brave ones. They are stronger than me. I couldn’t do this rape talk every single day.
Ensler asks, when will it end? I ask, how can it ever end? How do we even start to find a way to find the end? Where is the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road?
And that crushes me.
I am tired of talking about sexual violence. But I will not stop talking about sexual violence.
Like the poem says:
Under the bludgeonings of chanceMy head is bloody, but unbowed.
My pain. My triggers. They will not silence me any more than perpetrators of sexual violence and their apologists will silence me. I will not be silenced by ambivalent politicians or a lazy justice system. I will not be silenced by pop culture edicts that tell me to “lighten up.” I will not be silenced by throngs of ignorant college students marching in the streets over a corrupt football coach and his program — because they might as well be marching to protect the man who abused me and all the perpetrators of sexual violence against legions of survivors.
I will not be silent because all those years ago I had to be silent. Every pore of my body, my very soul, vibrated with the hushed screams of habitual sexual violence.
And just like no one will ever be allowed access to my body again without my permission — I’ll be damned if anyone is ever going to cover my mouth again!
You think a cage match with the UFC hurts? You think getting tackled on a football field is tough? You think writing some mean, nasty shit on the internet makes you powerful?
You don’t know pain.
And you don’t know power.
To all the rapists, rape apologists and architects of the rape culture: You’re on notice.
Because I am beyond over it. And I’m not alone.
**If you or someone you know needs help regarding any form of sexual violence, please go to the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence or RAINN for more information and access to a full range of resources.