Archive for November 3rd, 2011

November 3, 2011

Not There Yet

When Lauren posted her super-brave condemnation of the state of women’s equality yesterday, I was incensed. So much so that I couldn’t form coherent sentences.

Because every word she wrote was true.

In a world where women are supposedly “equal” WHY do we still have these issues? It’s a bunch of bullshit. We still have the men who don’t “lower themselves” to work with women. (This is going on at work right now with one of our contractors.) We still have people who assume it’s fine to refer to a woman as “Andy’s little girlfriend” in the workplace, instead of by her name. (Yep, that one was me. And even better, I wasn’t dating Andy.) Movies that include needless rape scenes, for shock value. (I’m looking at you “The Hills Have Eyes”.) Industries and communities where women are still marginalized. Where a presidential candidate can make a fool of himself paying off the women he’s harassed, and assume he can still win a nomination. Where, as Lauren said, we’ve been taught to keep our heads down, bite our lips, and tolerate it all … just to survive.

And then this, pulled from Twitter yesterday:

“sucks to have to be a rape survivor AND a rape joke survivor”

There is so, so much wrong with this I can barely think.

I’ve touched on it briefly in the past, but let’s get a little background, and a little detail:

A month before my 16th birthday I was raped. By my boyfriend. The boy who’d given me my first kiss, pursued me and made me feel wanted, and then gotten very, very angry when I refused to have sex with him. 3 days after my laughing refusal (I’d thought it was a joke) he drugged my drink* while at a party, and spirited me off to an empty room. He was interrupted after who-knows-how-long by a friend who’d come looking for a sweatshirt. Said friend chased him off, covered me up, and told the girl giving the party to call my mom and let her know I’d stayed over. (He assumed, as did everyone else who noticed my absence, that I’d had too much to drink and passed out. In reality, I’d had no alcohol at all.) The next day, the boyfriend broke up with me via phone (without me fully comprehending what had happened) and started dating a mutual friend, who WOULD sleep with him.

That girl began a smear campaign against me, telling people not to belive a word I said, I was just jealous that he’d dumped me for her. (To this day, I’m not sure if she knew.) Having nearly everyone around you laugh at you for “making up” a trauma? Not exactly helpful during the healing process. But the worst part was yet to come.

Three months after, I confided what had happened to a good friend. Turns out, good friend knew him – they played soccer together. Apparently, during practices, he’d been bragging about what he’d done to me, to a cheering audience. My friend said “I had no idea he was talking about you.”

Let me repeat that. He raped me. And then he bragged about it. And his teammates cheered him on.

What the fuck is wrong with the world when RAPE is a form of amusement? When authorities can’t, or aren’t willing to do anything to help me, though there was a confession? When the media continues to tell girls (enough that it even got in my head) “it’s how you dress, how you act, how you speak … you brought this on yourself” and “boys will be boys, we just have to bear it.”

It’s bullshit. BULLSHIT.

But it can swing wildly in the opposite direction, too. When, three years later, I bolted from a freshman seminar about date rape, a counselor followed me. She was welcoming and comforting, and encouraged me to come back after the seminar was over, to talk to the presenter one-on-one. So I did. Only to be badgered by said presenter to “Take it to the police! It’s your duty as a woman!! We can’t let men get away with this kind of thing!!” It took 45 minutes to get away from her, and changing my phone number (“helpfully” provided to her by the school) to finally get her to leave me alone completely.

Because here’s the thing … I DON’T THINK MEN, AS A WHOLE, ARE THE PROBLEM. I think SOCIETY is. The fucking permissive, look-the-other-way, make-everthing-a-joke (and call everyone who doesn’t find it funny stuck up) society that we live in … the one that undervalues women in every way (the glass ceiling, women’s health rights, equal rights etc.) … that allows the assholes (male AND female) who actually THINK THAT WAY to do as they please with very little consequence.

Hell, my boss and I had a conversation today about a past harassment charge she’d brought against someone … only to be told by her female HR rep “You really don’t want to do this. You’ve been here 8 years, why would you do this?”


How do we fix this? How? Lauren is in her space yelling and not taking it, and I do the same here (and in person … I regularly get into it on the street. I don’t take shit from people. Period.). I know many of you do the same. But how do we get it out there? How do we make our voices heard by more than the unlucky few who choose to cross us? How do we take this thing we all know to be so, so wrong, and CHANGE it?

“They” say to be the change. The hard part is finding the place to start.


* Little known fact about rohypnol – you’re not actually unconscious. If someone props you up and walks … you’ll walk with them. You look very, very drunk. Which is one of the more terrifying aspects of the drug … no one will notice anything wrong. And while I wasn’t aware of it while it was happening, I have very, VERY vivid memories of that night. So, I don’t stand for “well, date rape isn’t REAL rape” either.