Reparations / Reclamations

I met G for the first time on October 4, 2003. Our first date — arranged via as an early-afternoon coffee at a downtown cafe — ended 9½ hours later, when waitstaff at the nearby Thai restaurant we had relocated to, The Happy Smile, finally shooed us out the door.

Although he and I did not get married until the following December, we decided to use Oct 4, 2003 as the date engraved inside our wedding rings. This was our “true anniversary,” G and I agreed.

I sold that ring yesterday.

“Married in black / You will wish yourself back.”

[Quick tip for any would-be Not-Abused Spouses: if someone ever says to you, “I feel as though we’ve been married since the first day we met,” run away. Run as far and as fast as you can.

If any part of you thinks of saying, “Aww, I feel the exact same way!” — run instead straight to the nearest therapist’s office, plonk yourself down on their couch, and refuse to leave until they’ve helped you get the inside of your head thoroughly rebuilt.]

♦ ♦ ♦

Since October 4 was also the day before my birthday, G and I used to do one big, joint celebration each year.

Which is a polite way of saying: I made extravagant events out of our anniversary — flying us to Paris (or London or Vienna), springing for dinner at local 4-star restaurants the times we stayed in the country — and he sometimes wished me “happy birthday” on the correct day. In seven years, he never got me so much as a card.

The birthday omission might have been a power play, or he perhaps never did bother to learn which day it was. I know he would check the inscribed date on his wedding band and add one, anytime he needed to remember my DOB for completing some form or other.

His birthday I never forgot — and probably never will. It’s the same day as Hitler’s.  Continue reading “Reparations / Reclamations”

Inventing the Ship


This was a line I considered including in my 3 Quotes in 3 Days! kick a few weeks ago. I didn’t for reasons^ — chief among them, the fact that what I like about these words is how they make me think about the idea in reverse:

Where there can be shipwreck, there is always first a ship.


I endured a shipwreck (of sorts) yesterday. While I still feel the shock of it today, truth is — this ship has been in the process of wrecking my entire life.

All we have ever spoken of is the wreck.

All I can remember feeling is the wreckage. 


If I am wreckage, then I am also a ship. Then I have also always been a ship.

Today I leave the reefs.

Continue reading “Inventing the Ship”


Art, literature, film — the more time that passes, the more I appreciate creative acts that explore complex relationships and shine honesty into the dynamics of intimate partner violence. I find it deeply healing, when I can interrogate patterns from my own marriage but at the safe distance art provides.

Watching abuse play out in real-time and IRL is another matter. Especially when the woman being emotionally brutalized is my mother…and I know there’s not shit I can do about it.

No one heals without the love and support of others, but the first step you always take alone: in that moment when you decide you want more.

When you choose to believe that maybe, just maybe, you deserve more.

If anyone reading this now is in the throes of that decision — if any of you are wondering whether (just maybe) you too deserve to imagine a bigger life than the one your partner permits you — please trust me when I tell you, yes.

Yes. You do. You deserve more.

Please trust me when I tell you that you too deserve to breathe the air in your own home without fear.


Be brave.

Help will find you if only you can reach out and ask.


A Very Short Review of this Weekend’s Big Cinematic Release

Alice’s Review:

Fuck this book.

And fuck this movie.


Now, some brief contextualizing…

I ran across a meme recently, defending fans of FSoG with a very Wil Wheaton-esque message of “don’t let anyone make you feel bad for loving what you read.” My intent is not to shame anyone for the content of either their bookshelves or their fantasies. I just want to be sure we’re all starting from a common point of understanding.

Simply put: If you find yourself all hot-and-bothered at the thought of “Mr. Grey will see you now,” you are indulging in a fantasy about rape and abuse.

And not a fantasy about BDSM.

As long as you acknowledge that, then you and me? We’re good.

CaaBP = Shame-Free Zone

Plenty of people — both with and without sexual damage in their backgrounds — fantasize about rape and/or abuse. Just like plenty of people who engage exclusively in non-stigmatized sexual behaviors and relationship patterns may (or may not) do so for reasons relating to their own histories of trauma or eff’ed-up family dynamics.

I do strongly recommend, should you and your sexXy funtime partner(s) decide to role-play from this novel, that you follow actual BDSM best practices, including:

  • negotiate the sh!t out of every detail in advance, so that both Dom and sub get their needs met safely and and with fully-informed consent;
  • have a clear safeword explicitly in place before beginning; and finally,
  • provide aftercare like everybody’s life depends on it.

Scenes based on rape or abuse are a pretty extreme form of BDSM play and — like any extreme play — can run the risk of harm to participants if not practiced responsibly. [/public service announcement]

Not that you would know any of this from reading EL James’ book.  Continue reading “A Very Short Review of this Weekend’s Big Cinematic Release”

Safe Words

In kink communities, “red” as a safeword is common enough to be clichéd. As far as safewords go, it is a good one for newbies to the BDSM scene. It’s easy to remember: red is the final color of street lights.

A definite and recognized command to stop.

Of course, red is also the color of a matador’s cape. The one he waves to enrage the bull and prompt its charge.

[TW for discussion of intimate partner abuse and sexual coercion]

Within my marriage, I became a woman who submitted. Or perhaps I should say: I learned I was a woman who will submit. It’s hard to know what I am now — or how I might behave, should I ever again invite another human to run electric fingers along the skin of my thighs, or the nape of my neck. It’s even harder to imagine taking that risk.

I do know that one who submits is not the same as one who is a submissive. It is hard to get farther apart than these two states of being are from one another.

Another thing I know? I have never gotten past the shame I carry to voice my own deepest kink. Which is simply this:

I wish you would be kind.

Continue reading “Safe Words”

But All of the Survivors Are Brave [UPDATED]

[UPDATE, 12/6/14: I have added links with updates to the Marissa Alexander and Janay Rice stories at the end of the post.]

[TW for discussion and stock photos of domestic violence]

Lemme start with the obvious: one of the more persistent — and corrosive — tropes in the American imaginary positions white men as neutral Human, the default, the ideal from which the rest of us depart in our own varied, marked ways. The more one deviates from this Default Human — the more “deviant” one is — the less one gets recognized, or has their needs and issues attended to. Black feminist authors Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith pointed to this problem in the title of their 1982 book: All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men but Some of Us are Brave.

I work very hard to keep this awareness at the forefront of my thinking: that the sexism and misogyny that I experience — and thus rail about most loudly — function not simply as an attack upon my gender but upon my raced gender. As a white woman (who also generally passes as straight), I am keenly aware of being at the top of the heap, when it comes to most sexual and gender-based violence.

To be clear, I’m not claiming #SurvivorPrivilege as some great shakes, or saying “if I had to be abused by my husband, at least I got to be beaten-while-white!” More like:

Continue reading “But All of the Survivors Are Brave [UPDATED]”