#NotOkay

https://twitter.com/kellyoxford/status/784541062119456769?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

After the Trump video released last Friday, writer Kelly Oxford tweeted about her own experience—at only 12 years old—of having a strange man grab her crotch. While she may not have expected more than a few friends to respond to her invitation to “tweet me you first assaults,” she has now received hundreds of thousands of stories (a million on Saturday night alone), and the tweets are still pouring in, under the hashtag #NotOkay.

I find myself among those unwilling to join this conversation openly. Not because I do not have such memories in my past, but these are encounters that I either have already shared or have reasons to hold private still. So I am thinking instead about the ubiquity of not only sexual violence in girlhood but also the threats of such violence—and how these twin forces shaped the early years of so many women I know, and continue to color our daughters’ experiences today.

With all that in mind (both the said and the unsaid), I decided to revisit and revamp this piece I wrote a few years ago:


parked cars

My Body Is a Car Door

He and I are drinking coffee together, sitting
each in our own maturity and marveling
the kids these days!
when he says:
­    ‏                      ‏ ‎‌‍“I always thought puberty
was so much worse for girls. Breasts, menstruation—
like living inside an alien.
Boys have nothing that compares.”

“Boners,” I retort.

*** Continue reading “#NotOkay”

Brief Political PSA Regarding the Inadequacy of GOP Responses to Most Recent Evidence that their Presidential Candidate Gleefully Engages in Sexual Assault

Quick reminder:

We as a society are no better served by benevolent sexism than by overt misogyny.


[Relevant background, for any who may have missed and wished to view the latest “bombshell” evidence that the Republican candidate for President—a serial adulterer who raped his first wife, stands accused of raping a 13yo girl, and sexually harassed scores of women employees, in addition to those he outright assaulted—is less politician, more rapey, racist, bigoted mass of sexist pond scum. NB: while the video clip released by WaPo does contain “vulgar language,” far more problematic is the sexual violence Tromp (sic) describes and enthuses over.]

***

Yo.

GOP Leadership?

Take note:

I have no more interest in being “championed and revered” by my government than I have in being crotch-grabbed by it. [1]

“Hitting on a married woman” is not on par with sexual assault, not even close—a point easy to miss if your primary concern is with insults to “our wives and daughters” rather than to half the American citizenry. [2]

And when you express your concern as “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner”—then spend the rest of your weekend huddled in presidential debate-prep with the man who so described us—you confirm that window-dressing matters to you more than substance. That you are willing to see me as a p***y to be grabbed, just so long as that p***y-grab is not talked about. [3]

In sum:
Do not revere us.
Do not pretend to own us.
Do not clean up your language in our presence.

Just stop pretending you are not an equal sh!tstain on our polity to your man who would be king.

To borrow the words of Jessica Valenti:

SEE YOU ON NOVEMBER 8th, ASSHOLES.

/PSA


[1] Thanks but no thanks, Paul Ryan.

[2] Swing and a miss there, Mitt Romney.

[3] Awww. The feeling of disdain is mutual, Reince!

Manifesting

Anybody know a writer’s equivalent to the old saw about conquering stage fright by picturing your audience in their underwear? Hmm…

I am deeply grateful to The Manifest-Station for publishing my essay “Body Lessons,” about girlhood, shame, sexual violence, and recovery (revised from a earlier blog post). Also deeply grateful to any and all who read and support my work.

Please know I am picturing all of you in your underwear at this very moment.

After my divorce, I began a long and agonizing journey to reclaim my own sexuality. (continued…)

alice_neck

 

Recovery Is A Staircase

[CN: rape, self-injury]


IMG_20160731_200926405
Nathan’s First Selfie #proudmom

The first time I told the story—or, rather, tried to tell it—was in 2001, twelve years after the rapes themselves. I had a psychotic break afterwards, where I heard a voice in my head telling me it would kill me before I talked again. My left wrist still bears scars of the stitches I required before that day ended.

The second time I told the story wasn’t until October, 2013. Afterwards, I stopped being able to sleep in the dark. For the next fourteen months, the only sleep I got were catnaps at dawn and dusk. Sometimes I tried drinking myself to sleep by mid-afternoon, anything to make the day be over.

In 2014, the morning of April 30, I got a call from the rape crisis center where I’d put my name on a waiting list, informing me that my first appointment would be later that week. Panicked at the thought of telling the story to yet another new person, I ended up slicing my leg open, an inch-deep trough running up the length of my calf. I lost close to a pint of blood.

Tonight, I told a roomful of people an aspect of the story I have never said out loud before. Afterwards, I stood a long time in the hallway outside that room, afraid to come home. Afraid even to move.

And then I did move.
And then I did come home.

Once back at my place, I cuddled my cat. I ate a peanut butter sandwich. I wrote this post to share on Facebook. Then I decided to share it on my blog as well.

I’m calling it:

I did good tonight.

nathan_w_leg
When he is not the photographer, Nathan bores quickly.

[“Recovery Is A Staircase” is part of an ongoing memory project.
The entire series can be found here.]

“20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg

[CN: rape, rape culture]


We have been compelled in our bodies and in our minds to correspond, feature by feature, with the idea of nature that has been established for us.
Monique Wittig, “One Is Not Born a Woman”

To be feminized means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled, reassembled, exploited…leading an existence that always borders on being obscene, out of place and reducible to sex….
Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia.

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”

That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…
Dan Turner, letter to the judge requesting leniency in sentencing for his son, convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner

mud_dolls1

I am still thinking about court statements that came out after the sentencing of Brock Turner, the so-called “Stanford rapist,” at the start of June. “Not a danger,” said the judge. “Not serious harm,” said the legal subtext of his 6-month sentence. “Not a monster,” said his childhood friend. Tell my son “that his life still has meaning,” pleaded his mother. Only “20 minutes of action,” bargained his father.

Nor has the victim’s statement left my mind. Did you know she keeps a drawing of two bicycles taped above her bed? It reminds her of the two passersby on bikes who stopped the assault and gave chase to her assailant when he fled, holding him until police arrived. These bikes are the one detail I remind myself of, the one I have to remind myself of, day after day. I think about the bicycles in an effort to drown out the detail I want to forget and can’t: how the hospital found dirt—and pine needles, and other debris—in her vagina.

Did you notice that detail too?

He filled her with dirt.

My mind won’t put this fact down. Or rather, part of my mind won’t put this fact down.

The part of my mind that can flood with shame just watching a dog squat to piss on the sidewalk, thus announcing its female genitalia; and the part that feels soothed by the impenetrable blankness between a Barbie doll’s legs. The part of my mind that would limit my vocabulary to only the crudest obscenities for sex, and for my own anatomy.

The part that still believes my survivor’s body is forever filled with mud. 
Continue reading ““20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg”

“The judge said WHAT?!”

[CN: sexual assault, rape culture, victim-blaming]


lighthouse_full

If you are on social media at all, then you are likely to have run across this story in the last few days: how Brock Allen Turner, former Stanford student and competitive swimmer (now three-time convicted felon), was just awarded a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of six months in county jail, followed by probation, for the sexual assault and assault-with-intent-to-rape of an incapacitated 23yo woman, as she lay comatose on the ground behind a dumpster.

You may be wondering: why so light a sentence, given Turner’s three convictions that carried a cumulative potential for up to 14 years in prison? Especially considering the eyewitness testimony of two bicyclists, who spotted Turner thrusting on top of the motionless and mostly-naked woman and chased him off her; the victim’s blood-alcohol level of three times the legal limit (i.e., she would have barely been able to walk, let alone consent); and physical evidence that included dirt and grit in her vagina, resulting from Turner shoving his grubby, unwashed hands straight from the ground to inside her.

Well…let’s hear what the ruling judge, Aaron Persky, offered as explanation:

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Oh holy hells. Where to even begin. Continue reading ““The judge said WHAT?!””