Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It only counts if...

Alright, World. I know we had a talk last week, but you keep throwing things out there that are pissing me off, so we need to sit down and have another chat again.

What are you doing? This is the twenty-first century. In another three hundred-some years, we're supposed to be in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Why the hell are we still clinging to so many archaic concepts?

I'm speaking, today, about these patronizing, insulting terms that you are using to define rape as your own narrow view of it. Terms like "Forcible rape" that's been brought up by -the people who work for my government- that implies that it's only rape if she screams and winds up with bruises or broken bones or bloodshed. And, most recently, the disgusting term "Fully raped" came up.

Seriously? What is "Fully Raped?" Is there such a thing as "Mostly raped," "kind of raped," or "raped a little?" That's like someone saying that they're "a little bit pregnant." It just doesn't work that way.

Now, dear readers, this was not something that someone said to me. It was something someone said to a friend of mine--Someone near and dear to that friend, who had also been attacked. Her attack was a little more Hollywood, but you'd think that even so she'd understand. For her to say something so terrible, so insulting, so patronizing, breaks my heart. That's the kind of phrase that is designed to make the victim feel that kind of self-blame. There is -nothing- there that can help someone feel understood, loved, supported, and victimized. It belittles the whole experience, and has the potential to set someone back several steps in the healing process--back to feeling guilty, feeling like it's their fault, feeling like they can't talk to someone because no one would believe them. After all, they weren't -fully- raped, only a little. What's the big deal, really?

You know what, World? That's bullshit. Every victim, or every survivor, or everyone who has just experienced sexual violence, deserves to feel justified in their feelings, to feel like they deserve to feel that way, that they were attacked or abused and that it was WRONG. No one should ever be faced with a "What's the big deal?" attitude, and this is exactly what terms like "Forcible rape" or "fully raped" are. You're overreacting. It's not that big a deal. What's the problem? Just get over it. I dismiss your feelings, your hurt, and you. Instead, I give you shame, guilt, and disgust. Because you weren't assaulted at knifepoint, at gunpoint, by a large stranger in a dark ally, because your clothes weren't torn from your body while you screamed and cried out, helpless and battered. Because no one would make a movie scene out of your assault, it doesn't count.

World, I am -livid- at you. How can you allow these things to continue? How is it that in the modern world, we're still fighting over these very basic concepts? We disavowed slavery, indentured servitude, human trafficking, and all other laws or traditions that allowed a human person to be treated as property. We now have laws that prevent a human person being treated as property. So why is it that so many people still feel like a person's body is, if you'll forgive the pun, up for grabs whenever someone wants it? Why is it that a person's body is something treated like a right? Like someone can -ever- have a -right- to another person's body? Whether they were in a relationship, whether they were already sleeping together, whether they've consented to their assailant or a hundred other people in the past, no one has a right to another person's body. If a person does not want sexual contact, and another person forces it on them, that is a gross violation. There is no such thing as being "fully raped," or "forcibly raped." It's all awful, it's all terrible, it's all disgusting and hurtful and leaves scars that linger for years, or for the rest of a person's life.

If you think of rape as something that exists in degrees--Kind of, a little bit, fully, forcibly--then please. Think about the people you're hurting by dismissing their experience as something that doesn't count. And then, promptly go perform anatomically improbable acts with yourself.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The GOPs rape of American Women

"Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."

You're right, Foster Friess. I am an ignorant slut who should learn to keep her legs together--If only I were smart enough to figure that out, I totally wouldn't need birth control. I wouldn't need it to fight my sometimes-debilitating menstrual symptoms. I wouldn't need it to regulate my periods. I wouldn't be murdering all of the helpless babies that live their sad lives in my ovaries, just waiting for their chance to come out into the real world. That's all you want, right? For me to not murder those helpless, tiny, fully-formed and sentient human beings that live inside of my ovaries. I understand how reasonable your request is now. While I'm at it, would you like me to make you a sandwich and clean your house?

I try to avoid profanity in my blog, but seriously--fuck you. Fuck you and your whole party for outright stating that women are unqualified to make our own decisions about our sexual and reproductive health and rights. Fuck you for trying to force your religion into the most private and personal places in my body, like a terrifying metaphysical rape. NO MAN, WOMAN, GOVERNMENT, OR LAW HAS THE RIGHT TO MY BODY. That includes telling me what to do with my own health or wellness, and it includes telling me whether or not I should have sex, and it includes telling me wether or not I should have to conceive, bear, or birth a child.

These are NOT your decisions to make. If you attempt to make them for me, for every woman in this country, than you are personally committing, and condoning, the rape of an entire country by forcing your way into our bodies without our consent. Forcing us to bear children born of terror and violence, of twisted disgusting desire, of a sick need for power over another human being.

Oh, wait. That last one? THAT'S YOU, GOP. You are worse than any rapist I've ever heard of--Your desire isn't just to have power over one woman, or women in general. You must have power over EVERY WOMAN IN AMERICA. The power to force us to your will, to violate our bodies and our minds, to make us do your twisted bidding through the blood, sweat, and tears that we have shed to get to the point where we are no longer subserviant to men.

Well, guess what, GOP? We will not submit. We will not sit down quietly while you tell us that you know best, and if we'd just keep our legs and mouths closed we'd see how right you are, that someday we'll thank you for showing us how very wrong we were.

You are wrong. You are so. very. wrong. I will not sit quietly. I will not allow you to rape my body, my mind, or my rights--You'll have to use violence against me, to commit what you callously and ignorantly term as "forcible rape." If you want my rights, if you want my body, you will have to deal with the fact that I will scream, I will fight and call out and rally the people against you and your sick cause. And you will not defeat me, and you will not defeat us. We will never submit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"They Removed Your Consent."

Some many years ago, I was invited to a birthday party in a nearby city. The birthday of a good friend of mine. So I hopped on a bus and took the hour-and-a-half trip into the city and attended said party. The plan was for me to stay the night, since these things run late and I didn't have a car with me. No big deal, I did this often.

Except that they had neglected to mention one -very- important fact.

Most of the rest of the attendees were friends of theirs from the local Fetish Scene. Which wasn't a big deal, really. Those people are often really fun to hang out with. Until a certain point in the evening when they decide that it's a good idea to start tying each other up and beating each other, et cetera.

Now this probably wouldn't have been a big deal if I had known about it. I could have been prepared, or made other arrangements for where to stay that night, or simply not gone if that was my choice. However, I didn't have such warning. I was just there, and had no idea what was going to happen.

The result, you see, was me winding up wildly uncomfortable in a way that would affect me for many years. Perhaps, even, a little traumatized. This is -not- the way a person should be exposed to these things.

I didn't start to really think about it until just recently. I had no reason to. The Fetish Scene in any place is easy enough to avoid. One needs simply not take part and one can effectively ignore its existence. But since my lover enjoys these things, and many of his friends also partake, it has been harder and harder for me to avoid.

I've explained the reasons for my not wanting to be around it, and everyone--EVERYONE--has been very kind and understanding, and more than willing to not expose me to anything that would make me uncomfortable while making themselves readily available if I had questions. But it wasn't until a few days ago that I really figured out -why- I was -so uncomfortable.-

I was explaining it to a friend, telling the story as I do. And, casually flipping the bacon, she gave me the phrase that would make it all all into place. "Well, they removed your consent." Wow.

I hadn't ever thought of it that way, but it makes an awful lot of sense. Anyone in The Scene will tell you that consent is the most important thing. Remove that, and it's definitely a violation. I did not participate in any way, but it was a very small apartment and I couldn't exactly get away. I hid in the one other room and stayed there until everything died down, listening and feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable, not really getting it. I told myself, and my friends, that it wasn't a big deal, but for it to still bother me years later, it clearly was. At least after a fashion.

How does one deal with such a violation? With this particular type of non-consensual sex exposure? Part of me is defensive, closed-off, and undesiring of ever having to deal with it again. I just want to ignore it and hope it goes away. Another part of me is angry and self-righteous, wanting the chance to make my own decision, to take back the consent that was taken from me. This is what came of the realization that I hadn't been able to do that--The decision was forced on me, both to be exposed and to be uncomfortable with the whole thing.

There's one thing I know about myself, and that's that I -hate- having my consent removed from -any- decision. When a choice is taken from me, one of my responses is to take it back--To actively make that choice. The difference is, this time it doesn't necessarily involve making mistakes like it has in the past. (For example, the way of taking back the choice to have sex tends to end in desperate promiscuity, which I don't necessarily regret, but don't like.) I can willingly make the decision to become educated, to talk to these friends, to expose myself slowly and perhaps work through the discomfort so I can get to the point where I can make a decision.

But whatever that is, it will be mine, and not that of a group of strangers or thoughtless friends.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Struggling with sexuality.

It's a little difficult to explain some things to people. Those who get it know without the words, but most people never even think about some things. Some feelings. Some states of being. It isn't that they're careless or thoughtless or cold, it's just that they have no reason to think about these things.

I'm talking here, of course, about the psychological repercussions of abuse.

There is one thing that I specifically wish to address here. Several things have brought this to the forefront of my mind over the last few days--One of which was a post by BecomingSuperMommy about the oversexualization of young girls.

Women are generally raised to think that our sexuality--sometimes less controversially referred to as "beauty"--is the most important weapon we have to fight for a good life. We use it to get ahead at work, we use it to secure a financial future through a husband, we use it to secure our husbands, we base our confidence and worth on it. Even media that romanticises intelligence, drive, and creativity in women does it through -beautiful- women. A woman who reads is amazing, but only if she's got perfect hair, a professional make-up-artist, and a figure that belongs in underwear catalogues, which is dressed to advantage in expensive, tailored clothes designed to look like they came from a thrift store.

Some of us manage to break through this mindset that we are only as worthwhile as our sexuality makes us. Some of us never do. Most of us wind up struggling with it on a daily basis.

It's difficult for any woman. Any or every normal, every-day woman will struggle with seeing herself as a sexual object. If she doesn't dress nicely to work, if she doesn't do her hair and makeup, she'll generally be seen as less professional, less able to do her job. If she dresses too nicely, if she does her hair and makeup too well, she'll be seen as the woman who is using her looks rather than her skillset to progress professionally. It's a delicate line for any woman to walk, and it wreaks havoc with self-esteem and self-worth.

Now imagine this everyday woman who struggles with the balance--Between being confident in herself as a sexual object, as a beautiful woman, and in being confident that she is worth more than that by a lot.

Then imagine her as a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault. Put her in a position where she made to feel like she is worth nothing as a human being. All of the worth that she has is in her existence as a sex object. Her intellect does not matter. Her drive does not matter. Her relationships to not matter. The only thing that matters is her sex.

In a prolonged sexual abuse relationship, a woman is made to feel that sex is her currency and her weapon. If she does not provide sex, she is doing something horribly wrong. She is not living up to her end of the bargain. She is expected and required to provide this service, and if she does not, she is not worth the trouble.

In the instance of sexual assault, then a woman is nothing but a sex object. She has no choice, she has no mind, no thought, no desire of her own that matters. Nothing of her mind or heart or will matters. The things she wants are simply not important, because she is a sex object, created to be used. That's it.

This compounds on the struggles that any woman goes through on a daily basis. Sometimes she simply can't shake the idea that if she is not appropriately sexual, or sexually satisfying, that she is no longer a worthwhile woman.

As a victim of both sexual assault and sexual abuse, these are daily struggles for me. Powerful forces tearing at me from all sides. My inner feminist, boldly proclaiming that I am intelligent, driven, kind, funny, and awesome. My vanity demanding that my face and hair and body be shown to their advantage as often as possible. My Ethical Slut, who unabashedly flaunts my sexuality, because there is no shame in being a sexual creature--which is different from being a sexual object. My desperate insecurity begging for validation, to be reminded that my feminist is right, that I am more than my sexuality. And last, the part of me--a part that I can't even find an appropriate name for--that still feels like a sex object. Perhaps the victim in me, who finds validation through sex because...well, what else is a woman good for, according to men?

That last part, I am aware, is -wildly- unfair to a vast, vast majority of men. Not the least of whom is my own lover, who has never, ever made me feel like I was only worth my sexuality. I would apologise for the unfairness, Men, but I refuse to accept responsbility for the way I have been treated by those among you who are incapable of seeing the true value of another human.

But these are the perspectives that I own. Each of them is a different voice, a different perspectve, a different response. All of them meld seamlessly into my personality, showing themselves in moments that most people can never discern. They are all a part of me, and will never go away. Like most women, I will always have that insecurity. And like a shockingly and disturbingly high percentage of women, somewhere inside me will always be a terrified victim, who will always feel that she can't possibly be worth more than a sex object, because of the trauma involved in being treated that way.

Somewhere, hovering around me, is a vague sense of failure because so much of my identity does revolve around sex--Mostly around having to deliberately think of myself as "not-just-a-sex-object." However, that Feminist voice is telling me that I wouldn't have to work so hard at NOT being a sex object if society as a whole were not focusing so hard on making me feel that way.

This is not a failing on my part. This is not a failing on the part of women. This is not a failing on the part of men. This is a failing on the part of society that still focuses so hard on female sexuality. Being sexy is fine and good, but eventually we, as a society, will have to get the hell over it and stop making it a requirement for being worthwhile.