My Rapist Still Calls Me In The Middle Of The Night

My rapist still calls me in the middle of the night. The 27th, and the 29th, and the 5th, and the 8th and…At 10:45 and 10:46 and 11:58 and…

Because he hasn’t deleted my number. Even though I told him I would never try to contact him again.

Because he’s horny. And knows I am too. And for him.

Because he just got off work, but really because he’s horny, and has no one else to call. No one else he wants. No one else who makes those noises, makes those faces when they come. No one else who he thinks will pick up at 11:37, 12:09, 1, 2, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday. No one else, maybe.

My rapist still texts me too. Not every day, or every other day. But not once a month, like before.

Not just to say “Hey.” Not because “Imy.”

Because “I want to eat you.” And he does a good job of it too. Did. The best. Because “You miss your dick though?” But I don’t. I hate it and him. But I do. But I don’t, just his mouth and his fingers and his lips and his smell and his voice and his accent and all those dirty dirty words and his never really stopping even if it kinda hurts.

Because “I never meant to hurt you.” Didn’t you though?

He calls because I haven’t called him a rapist, to his face. Because I didn’t say rape, didn’t call the police. Like you’re supposed to. I suppose. Because when going the new year without him is my resolution, and when the months go by without one word from me, this is me being hard to get. This is me waiting for him to say sorry, again. Say hello. Say I miss you. Say I want to eat you. Eat me.

Why should I get a new number? Why should MY life change? What if I want him to eat me again? And I close my legs tight. A short, small struggle. Then it’s both of us, one more thing we have in common.

I reject all my rapists’s calls. I delete all my rapist’s messages. I go whole days, weeks, months. I eat, I sleep, I shower. I work, I study, I go out. I date. I fuck. I buy groceries for. I travel to. I play baseball at. I have Christmas with. Sometimes I call up. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it is the middle of the night.

And I look at my phone to see who’s calling, press reject and go back again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again. and again and…I turn the t.v. up, turn to the Disney channel, turn these thoughts into my own for the night and…

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Happiness

I have recently seen it written that nothing and no one will ever make you happy. Nothing. Not your job, not even if it’s something you “love,” not your house, the one you are from or the one where you end up, not your hobbies, no matter how fulfilling they all seem. No one. Not your friends or your family, not even the person or people you fall in love with, or fell out of love with. Nothing. No one.

happyness

Shot from the film The Pursuit of Happyness

What I read did not mean to suggest that happiness is an impossibility, but rather that happiness is not what you do or obtain, or what others do for you or give to you. Happiness is who you are, in every single passing second of every single day. It is the very moment in which you are living, neither the past nor the future, but how you are keeping right now. Right now, are you reading this post? Are you drinking your coffee or tea? Tapping your foot or your nails? Adjusting your glasses? Your chair? Yawning? Breathing? This is happiness.

Utilizing yourself for yourself. Fulfilling your internal purpose to take care of your needs. Yes, this is self-serving. No, it is not selfish. When you give of yourself to others, fulfilling their needs is part of your external purpose, what and who you choose to be for the rest of the world, but it is not what makes you happy. You are.

Happiness is the state of being you that you constantly maintain. Unfortunately however, we tend to think of it more as a fire that could go out or a balloon that loses air with the circumstances. But true happiness cannot come and go with the wind or the prick of a needle. It is not so delicate, so easily erased, forgotten, buried, temporary though it may seem. It is in fact always present, and there is no need to go looking for it, as happy, happiness, is what you already are. All there is to do is to recognize it and accept it.

*******

balon

Shot from the film The Red Balloon

After thinking about this concept a while, I realized quite a few things. I had originally started writing a happiness post in my head with the inspiration being a guy I recently had a really huge crush on. Before him, I hadn’t had a crush on anyone for quite a while. Few, and I stress, few men I have ever had the pleasure to come across in my life will I ever dare to describe as dreamy; it sounds like a word one tosses around at a 1950s slumber party. But to his credit, he managed to become one of them.

Yet I did not want to write that he made me happy, though he made me smile, and think pleasant thoughts, and feel genuinely interesting,  funny, smart, beautiful and appreciated. I wanted to say that, after my rapes, being able to feel this way at all because of a man who I was interested in made me feel good, made me think I was happy, or at least infatuated, at least for a while. Made me start to think I could possibly be happy with a man for a long time or happy with one sometime in the future, even if that future didn’t include this particular man. It made me feel hopeful, that someone I liked and could care for that much could feel the same way about me. Not their penis, me. Not my vagina, not my face, not that one favorite band we both had in common or the fact that we could both put gas in our own cars. Me. Me. Good and bad. Me.

We stopped talking. And while I wasn’t on cloud 9 anymore, I wasn’t sad either. Shit happens. To all of us. And so per usual the feeling faded, but still the post did not. But why?

“…nothing you do and no one you meet, including your rapist, will ever make you unhappy.”

Because, keeping the concept of happiness above described in mind, as much as nothing you do and no one you will ever meet can make you happy, nothing you do and no one you meet, including your rapist, will ever make you unhappy. Confused, afraid, hurt, neglected, maybe. But not unhappy. Stupid, guilty, ugly, ashamed, perhaps. But not unhappy. While I do not promote rape, rapists, or proponents of rape culture, I do mean to say that my happiness is not, never was and never will be determined by what happened to me, or what may happen, now or later, no matter how horrible the event(s).

The misconception that rape robs me of my happiness is why rape is used as a weapon of war, as a mechanism of every day social control, as an expression of defeat when one dies in one’s video game.

Top of flyer captioned: "Don't let a night full of promise..."

Top of flyer captioned: “Don’t let a night full of promise…”

But if this were true, you would not be where you are now. Here. Somewhere in the blogosphere. Reading this. Getting angry, upset, or hopefully becoming calm. Raped, you may have lost everything but your life, and you may still lose that, but you will never lose your happiness. Never. Never. So if you still feel that you are unhappy, I beg you to ask yourself these questions: Are you telling yourself that you are unhappy because you, or someone else, think(s) you should be?-Due to what happened? And do you currently find yourself in this very second, or are you somewhere else?

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To My Readers

Dear Readers,

I am sorry I have not posted in a while. Due to my job and due to health concerns, I have been distracted and/or unable to write. I would like to thank everyone who has read me and who has followed me and to say that more will come, though I cannot guarantee an exact date. Let it be known that my goal is to bring more posts to you in the first week of February. Until that time, rest assured I have been and am currently working on the next entries! I am looking forward to posting and hearing your comments soon, and I hope you all are looking forward to February! See you soon!

C.J. Pera

Love Thy Neighbor

My cousin goes inside the house real quick. She’ll be right back.

She leaves me on the porch steps with Leonard from the house around the corner since Grama doesn’t let her male friends come in. They can wait outside, it’s nice out.

She and her friends laughed at me because I hit Leonard when he annoyed me. When he was being stupid. When whatever. They teased me, said I must like him then. I said I didn’t. They were all older kids, in middle school and high school, so they didn’t believe me. I didn’t know if I liked him. I didn’t think so. I never had liked anyone yet.

He teases me too when she’s gone. I say stop. He doesn’t, so I get mad and I hit him. Then I feel stupid for doing it, like I proved them all right. He teases me more. Says that’s not what you’re supposed to do when you like someone. He touches me, on the lower leg. Not a hit, like mine were to his shoulder, but a soft, slow caress from the knee down. This has never happened to me. I don’t know what to do. I hit him, hard, and I stand up and move farther away, clutching the railing. He tries again. I kick him and run up the steps and inside the house. My cousin is happy I don’t go with them when they leave. I never tell anyone. Not even his little sister.

 

It is the fourth of July before we start high school. We are all going to the fireworks at the community center. Me and Sarah and our friends, and our friends’ friends and those friends’ friends. I am already at my grama’s house so it will be easy to just walk to Sarah’s later and go with her. For the time being though, I am bored. Just Grama and t.v. So when I see Mr. Meyer’s dog on the lawn next door I go out to play with it.

It’s little and brown and cute and tied by the leash to Mr. Meyer’s lawn chair. I am afraid of dogs, even little ones, but not ones tied to chairs. Mr Meyer is very old and very fat, so he won’t go anywhere and neither will the little dog. He waves at me and we chat while I pet his dog and ask him questions. Is it a boy or a girl? What’s her name? Nice day isn’t it?

He watches me. He tells me to come here a minute sweetheart. I do. I do when my grama tells me. I do when his wife tells me, when she and Grama drink iced tea in the kitchen or on the porch, or when one needs the other’s garden hose. He tells me sweetly, hungrily, to let him kiss my hand. Kiss my hand? I am suspicious. He keeps trying to convince me, says it will be quick. I don’t know what to do. No one else is outside. He is old and fat and sitting down. At church the nice old men shake my hand all the time during fellowship. Call me baby, honey, sweetheart; call my mama and my aunties the same. I stick out my hand hesitantly.

He grabs it with more force than I anticipate and gently kisses my right hand, over and over, in the same spot. I want to get away but I don’t move. He thanks me. It’s over. Then he looks from right to left and back at me. You won’t tell anybody right? I just want to leave. No.

I tell my cousin and Sarah and our friends to stay away from him. They ask why. I say he’s a nasty old man. Why? He just is.

 

The most my neighbors ever did was leave nasty unsigned notes telling us to pick up the trash around the curb that we didn’t throw there because it was a corner house, and everyone tosses their coney island hot dog holders and cigarettes and not cigarettes on the corner house curb, and lets their dogs poop without dog poop bags on the corner house lawn. The most they ever did was have us order girl scout cookies or school drive chocolates and never reimburse our money with cookies or chocolates. The most they ever did was knock on our door late at night to say that their daughter had just killed herself and that they needed help, which came in the form of a ride to the bus depot and ten dollars. Do they think the lighter you are, the more gullible? I wanted to wait and see if she would actually walk inside, but I was too young to see over the top of the bottom of the window, even in the car seat, so I don’t know where her feet went. I didn’t think my mother should have given her ten dollars, I never got that much from her or the tooth-fairy or Santa, but she said God told her to do it. All they did was shoo stray German shepherds and pit bulls off our porch with plastic baseball bat threats. And have dog fights in their backyards, which I could see through the black bars on my window since you could shoot a bullet through my house and find it at the other end of the block if everybody’s shades or blinds were raised that day. All they did was curse loudly to themselves because an institution had just been closed around the block and they had nowhere else to go and no one else to talk to. All they did was crash into our wooden fence, no more hiding now, just big see-us-gardening-and-collecting-pine-cones-and-old-cheese-sandwiches-someone-heaped-over-the-corner-house-fence metal squares. All they did was steal the lawnmower and the garbage can. Who steals garbage cans? And ask to come into our house when we didn’t know them, and knock down stop signs for fun or show up in 4s or 5s at night in the middle of the street. But that was only once or twice. All they ever did was let us stay a few hours in their hoarder-junky t.v. room, while the locksmith got us back into our house that we locked ourselves out of, and eat popcorn and be fat and light blue in the glow of the television screen since no other light was turned on in the house. All they did was throw the ball back if it got in their yard or let us come get it if we weren’t afraid of their dog, and grow white daisies not as pretty as our yellow daffodils and blue flower bush. And knock on the door on Sundays asking us to come to God while we hid beneath the windows and didn’t make a sound. All they did was ditch class in the car parked on our dirty curb, or tell me to shut up when I sang on the lawn or Mom to shut up when she stopped the car in front of their house to tell them they drive like idiots. All they did was be plump and rude to our guests who rang the wrong doorbell, and then get cancer, get skinny and get nicer to them when they ring the wrong doorbell again. All they did was shoot at each other a few months to a year after we moved. Some of them.

They were never like my grama’s neighbors.

 

 

 

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Nothing Happened

house

When I get to Sarah’s house I have to call so my grama knows that nothing happened.

On a sunny summer day I walk there. She answers the door. I call. Nothing happened.

Bye Sarah’s mom. We leave. We know the neighborhood and are together, best friends. We walk, we talk, we laugh. About school, and boys, and music, and parents, everything we know and everything we don’t, nothing. Nothing happens.

We ring doorbells. No answer. Our friends aren’t home. Nothing happens.

We go see a boy, Coach’s son, because he’s cute and lives nearby. We walk there. We ring the bell. Coach answers. Son does not. Dang! Oh well. But you can still come in for a little while. Something happens. We do.

We go into a room. And stand around and chat. About the season, about school. We laugh a lot. Nothing happens.

Then it gets to be a while. Goodbyes. We leave. Nothing happened.

We start to walk again. It is getting dark but not dark yet. It is very quiet, peaceful. No one is out just now. A car drives right up to us and quickly halts. Someone gets out and makes us get in.

Our mothers ask us where we were. We tell. What were you doing there? Nothing.

You’re not allowed to go into anyone’s house. But we didn’t. It was Coach’s house. But it promptly doesn’t matter. Anyone means anyone. You can talk outside but not inside. Okay. Sorry. We were worried sick driving around looking for you! I called your phone. I didn’t know it. We didn’t know. Well now you do. More words. More of the same words. A lot more of the same words. Silence. I think are we in trouble. They sound too exhausted; I know we are not.

We get to my grama’s curb. Bye Sarah and Sarah’s mom. My grama sees me and decides I need more of the same words, for more time, until all our stuff gets in the car, until we do. I’m sure I will never go on a walk again. By choice or otherwise.

Bye Grama. We leave.

 

I start a blog 12 or 13 years later and think about how at the start of our season Coach half jokingly asked all us girls before practice if we had all bought our sports bras. Eeeeeeeew, scrunched up faces, laughter, middle school girl attitude, hands covering nubs. He can ask, he can ask, I said, calm-down hands up. His team, of girls, who wear bras. Logic. Should this have tipped me off? On? Back? Forward?

We played the season. Nothing happened.

 

When I am 17 or 19 my grama says I shouldn’t go walking around her neighborhood alone.

 

 

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Natural Casing

I am natural casing. Stuffed until full, of meat, and spices, and herbs, and cheeses, and peppers, and garlic, and onion and breadcrumbs-though I am not sure if they lead to or from, the past or the present. When you sink your teeth into me I snap, and take time to fully consume.

 

spices

 

 

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Here

I am the deli counter at Kroger. Who will take me today? Who will take me? Rotisserie or raw. Hot or cold. Smoked salmon. Deviled eggs.  A sandwich. Chicken salad. Pre-seasoned beef fillets. Or would you like to choose a lobster? Here we are. Here we go, a movie and dinner. A look. An embrace. A kind word. A hand held. Hours talking, or not talking at all. A car ride. An accepted invitation to any place. A smile, straight face, a yes, or a no, will be yes. And then where will we, you, I, go? I don’t know. Do you? But that’s not important, because it’s in the bag. In the trunk. Next to the fruit cups, canned veggies, condensed milk. Home? Into a glass. Onto a plate. Here we go. Here, I go. You stay.

 

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You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry: Of Santa Claus and Sexual Violence

santa

MERRY CHRISTMAS READERS!!!

Before you read, it is important to know what rape culture is. What the site in the provided link  says about rape culture can be applied to violence against anyone by anyone. In any event, enjoy the post!!

One day, upon musing about the movie Speak, recounting the fictional story of a girl (Melinda) who is raped right before entering high school and struggles with handling and revealing this horrifying truth, I noticed a few things I thought were worth mentioning. While I enjoyed the film before I realized I was raped, there is one thing after realizing this that still bothers me about it. I am not sure if the book is the same way as I have not read it. Although I appreciate that the movie was from the perspective of a rape victim, that it detailed how scary, lonely and ostracizing that can be without real support, and that it encourages rape victims to speak about their experiences and seek help, I am not entirely sure I support how the film depicted the victim experience. Even though it can be argued that the movie serves as a voice for the voiceless, speaking for those who won’t or can’t speak about their experiences as victims of sexual assault, due to how the director chose to walk us through Melinda’s experience the movie may be adding to victims’ voicelessness more than taking away from it.

speak poster

It is wonderful that the audience gets to understand rape as not only a physical but also a psychological and social experience, and from the perspective of a victim no less, which hardly ever happens. It is awesome that they get to know her a bit as a person, not being able to define her by this one tragic event, and that they actually focus on the topic of rape to reveal its gravity, as opposed to just making it one part of the plot that we only see or hear briefly about. It’s incredible they actually witness her rape in the back of a van at a party. So it HAPPENED. It was REAL. And they are on her side, on our side, from the beginning. And then,~rewind button noise~ all this starts to look too good to be true. Because it is.

I cannot relate to Melinda because no one knows for sure that I was raped, even if they chose to believe me, and unlike her I wouldn’t be able to garner any belief that my rapes took place by the rapetriarchal legal and social standards often based on interpretations of physical evidence prejudiced against rape victims. Were there any fluids…that can’t be explained away by claims of consent?, had you been involved in this or something similar before, and/or with this same person…as liars and all-of-a-sudden rapes/rapists are unlikely?, did anyone else see to be able to substantiate your claim…other than the rapist(s) who took you to or held you in a secluded area? No. But one thing is for sure, my rapes were not caught on camera like hers was. Yes, yes, I knoooow it’s a movie and cameras are generally involved in the making of those.

My point is, however, and this also goes for other media that portray rape and rape victims, we did not have to see the rape to believe that it happened

My point is, however, and this also goes for other media that portray rape and rape victims, we did not have to see the rape to believe that it happened. To me it would have been much more effective to delete the rape scene altogether so that the movie could give the audience a better idea of one of the gargantuan realities that rape victims face: a pervasive, stigmatizing, and utter lack of belief by anyone who didn’t witness their rape that it actually happened, let alone that it was terrible, that it wasn’t their fault and that it is worth talking about.

Even when Melinda does “speak” about the incident to her former best friend, who is now the current girlfriend of her rapist, she is not believed (though this is not exactly a surprise and the account of Melinda’s rape does plant suspicion in this friend’s mind), and no moviegoer will know if her mother was supportive of her and believed that she was raped since the movie ends mid-conversation, when she finally tells her mother what happened to her. Moreover, when she “speaks” by calling the police to the party after the rape (though in reality she never says a word and hangs up), her other former friends and acquaintances do not see her as anything but a party tattle-tell and continue to see her rapist as an attractive senior athlete. That is, until they hear a commotion at school and see signs of a struggle after Melinda’s rapist violently confronts her when he and his girlfriend have a rift over Melinda’s rape accusations.

Speech then is clearly not the answer. It does not protect her and it does not make people, in the film or in the audience, believe her. Instead it is what people hear and see, the physical, concrete signs of rape, assault and struggle that many of us will never have or be able to prove come from sexual assault, that convince them, or make them at very least empathetic.

Thus in this film, and I would wager many others, rape does not take place within the enormous spectrum of victims’ experiences with it, but rather is relegated to the confines of non-victims’ 5 senses.

Thus in this film, and I would wager many others, rape does not take place within the enormous spectrum of victims’ experiences with it, but rather is relegated to the confines of non-victims’ 5 senses. If they hear no evil and see no evil, it is not surprising they will be confused, offended and retaliatory if anyone tries to speak it.  So yes, rape culture pundits do belong to a gang, and yes, gang rape then has more than one meaning. But I digress.

In any event, being believed after you are raped is still unfortunately a privilege, not a right. You are guilty, though I am not exactly sure of what, until proven innocent, and this point would best come across if the audience didn’t have the physical “proof” of a rape scene that so easily lets them believe Melinda. Each audience member would have to decide for themselves what happened to her, and this decision, and how they came to it, would reveal to them how they really understood rape, rape culture and its victims. It would force not only a personal, but also a social examination of the meaning and impact of rape, as no two opinions would be exactly alike. Every person would walk out of the theater either believing or not believing her, to different degrees, and having different reasons why, regardless of what Melinda may have said or done in the film. Because this is what we actually go through. This is rape culture. Not acceptance, scrutiny. Not belief, wonder. Not us, nor our stories, but non-victims’ personal opinions about what they believe did or did not take place. To be raped is to constantly have your existence as a victim either confirmed or denied.

this is what we actually go through. This is rape culture. Not acceptance, scrutiny. Not belief, wonder. Not us, nor our stories, but non-victims’ personal opinions about what they believe did or did not take place. To be raped is to constantly have your existence as a victim either confirmed or denied.

Who or what else do I know that is like this?

Why, a certain jolly old elf! Of course!

We, rape victims/survivors/all-inclusive etc., are perpetual Santa Clauses, not ceasing to exist because those who would believe in us grow up or move on, but continuing to be, as commonly accepted myths or illusions. Not the monsters beneath the bed or the alligators in the sewers, but Zeus, Hercules, Jesus, Saint Nick. No, I do not mean to pose a belief or disbelief in Jesus or any other religious figure in history, or in any idea or sensation in particular, but rather to make the point that, if so many of us can believe in so many things that we can’t see and that we haven’t experienced, why do so many people not believe in rape? In rape culture? In rapists? In the raped?

god santa unicorns

Unfortunately, as whether or not rape occurs is always called into question, its victims are the wind, are unicorns and gnomes, are deities and saints, are ghosts not yet gone home. Seeing is believing. Then how do we know that what we see is real at all? Because we want to believe it is. There is a faith, an honor system, a trust that most of what we see or feel carries the weight of the truth. Yet rape victims hardly ever get these courtesies; rapists and rape culture do. They perpetuate the real myths: that victims did or said something that caused them to be raped, that the majority of rape accusations are false, that silence and/or mere existence equals consent, that virginity isn’t just as much of a social construct as race, that etc. and etc. While rape victims  are made to remain phantoms on the field of dreams, tossing the baseball around between the tall stalks of corn in-the-middle-of-nowhere Iowa, until the townspeople believe they are actually there.

So I roll down the windows and let my hair down that it may be blown about. I clap that somewhere a fairy won’t feel faint. I will every so often put my hands together and bow my head. I will build it, so they will come. On the side of Santa, unicorns, and rape victims everywhere, believing is seeing.

Yet I wondered, upon further musing, if Santa’s truly is the side I should be on? I had compared Santa to the rape victim, when indeed he may bear more similarities to rape culture. Let us examine this idea by looking at the popular song that exposes many of the most widespread beliefs about Santa Claus, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

  1. “You better watch out.” In other words, you better be careful potential rape victim. Don’t do this or that, or go there, or alone, or dressed like that, or saying that or being that. While the possibilities of the meanings for “that” or “there” are endless, many readers will probably have only a few in mind. Hence, they believe in the idea that rape only happens under very few circumstances and that it is thus possible to avoid, which will here be coined as “avoidism.” As much as Santa polices children’s behavior, rape culture polices everyone’s, and particularly women’s, behavior in order to produce desired results: women and men acting in ways that conform to society’s ideas of  rape and of how they should comport themselves according to their gender, among other things. If we can manage not to get coal in our stockings, we can get out of rape, or prevent it altogether.
  2. “You better not cry, you better not pout.” You had better not demand your rights or your dignity or to be heard if something happens to you or someone else. If you are raped, do not cause trouble by speaking your mind, or too loudly, or to the police or to a counselor or to whomever or whatever may in some way attempt to properly address the problem. You must just accept what has been or what is being done to you. You brought this upon yourself you know.
  3. “I’m telling you why.” Not asking you if you believe anything being said ~cough~sung about how not to be raped or how not to say anything if you are, and not alerting you that it is possible to differ from, negate and change this “knowledge.”
  4. “Santa Claus is coming to town.” Though I would argue he never left, and neither did rape or rape culture.
  5. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.” Rape culture is always there and following you around even if it hasn’t got a handy-dandy chimney.

hanging santa

It is a vigilante system maintained everywhere you go by everyone you know. as it is not formally recognized by law, yet the law in many ways does still informally recognize and adhere to it.

6. “He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” Rape culture and its pundits know when you have “misstepped,” or been “bad” and not ascribed to the beliefs they propagate. Swift punishment of varying forms will hopefully put you back in your place. A joke here, a you’re-not-allowed-to-go-certain-places-without-permission there, and the ever popular professional, social, financial and/or physical threat, etc. But if you follow rape culture and avoid being raped, then you are a good boy or girl and you will receive lots of presents. You may have a seat on the Polar Express, or be able to keep your job or that of someone close to you. All of your friends and limbs will cling to you as never before.

7. “He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” There are written and unwritten rules that compose the checklist (yes one, as often we do not not think that our own individual checklists are valid or sufficient) that people go over in their own heads when they decide what rape is, if it took place, and how to watch for and avoid it. What ends up making it or not making it onto this checklist, in addition to who and what created it, can be a problem since no two rapes, rapists, rape victims or thoughts on rape are exactly alike. As issues of rape are often oversimplified and complex, though it may at first be easiest to rely on well established definitions and concepts of rape, it is ultimately best to come up with your own since none of them will ever be as specific as they need to be to you. You know who you are. You know what happened.

This is no mere Christmas carol. These are rape culture commandments. You followed them as a child. You can do it again as an adult. Or perhaps seeing rape in this way is not very adult, and society as a whole is still very childlike. Be that the case, I would like to take the side not of Santa Claus, but rather of his brother Fred Claus, asserting that there are no naughty children, just as there are no men and women who will inevitably become rape victims if they don’t follow rape culture. There are only people who have been hurt, and later ignored and misunderstood.

fred claus

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Of Dead Dandelions and Fishing Hooks

pb Before I began writing this blog, I wasn’t  sure of exactly what I wanted to say, but I was certain of what I wanted to talk about. Bright and early in the morning I’d keep waking up thinking about, or be violently awakened by, a relevant topic or subtopic of sexual assault that would come to mind, and I’d write it down like I always do my dreams. So at 8 or 9:30am it started to become either zoo animals running around office cubicles, a prisoner escaping from behind enemy lines or why the hell is it that rape keeps appearing where it (knows it) good and goddamn well doesn’t belong? Can’t I eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in peace without having to see rapeseed extract on the JIF or Skippy jar? I was having a good day. I hadn’t thought about it once. And then I got hungry, !God forbid!, and now I’m not hungry anymore.  I didn’t know rape was a plant. Or a candy bar for that matter. I didn’t know I could ingest it as well. Again. Thank you, people who name things. Thank you. Fuck you.

rapeseed plant

rape flower

In any event, other than being extremely frustrated by my impeccable capacity to remember stupidly named plants and other objects in which rape appears, explicitly or implicitly, I would go about noticing, collecting or being interminably distracted by this or that tidbit on sexual violence and feeling remarkably liberated. As a survivor and as someone who has always written, not talking about rape in person or on the page, to myself or anyone else, and for as long as I didn’t’ talk about it, was quite enough to make me regularly implode. I could barely let myself write the word and, to this day, still record it as merely its first letter in handwritten communication. But what is now an overflow of ideas and so many words about rape for this blog, other than being quite overwhelming and refreshing since I bottled it up for so long, is actually amazingly eye-opening.

Until you experience rape, even if you study feminism or related subject matter, you really don’t become quite in tune with how often the topic of rape, rape culture itself and the things that remind you of rape surround you. No, these are not your painful and traumatizing flashbacks, and I will not minimize this hyper-sensitivity by dismissing them as such. Rather I will say that you become hyper-aware, you develop a spider sense, you see it when you don’t want to see it and sometimes when it isn’t even there. This is remarkable because when you see it everywhere and nowhere all at once, a non-survivor will not see it hardly as much, if even at all.

A non-survivor will not  forget where they are or what they’re doing when they see a certain someone turn the corner, will not laugh at an ill-humored joke because it was rude or it wasn’t funny more so than to keep their struggle a secret, will not turn the channel if they hear a scared screaming voice coming from the screen, will not need to remember that accusatory discussions in class or at the dinner table about Bill Cosby’s or Stephen Collins’ alleged victims are not personal attacks, will not delete whole words or phrases from their vocabulary because these were/are the ones used by their attacker (the ones they remember anyway), will not need to find somewhere to sit when they read the label of a peanut butter jar because it feels like the world is spinning, cannot get through one chapter of a book simply because the book is boring, does not have trouble writing more than the letter “r”. A non-survivor can say “rape” out loud and let it go into the wind like the seeds of a dead dandelion, rather than let it sink into the water and be reeled back in like a fishing hook.

A non-survivor can say “rape” out loud and let it go into the wind like the seeds of a dead dandelion, rather than let it sink into the water and be reeled back in like a fishing hook.

So say something right? It is there. Rape. It is ridiculously there, and it’s not going away. So brush it, scrape it, peel it off. Do something! Say something! Speak. And at 8 or 9:30 in the morning, it spoke to me…. Next post coming soon: “You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry: Of Santa Claus and Sexual Violence”

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Of Doctors’ Offices (Part 1)

doc office

(Original Title: A Trip to the Pediatrician)

Scientist’s fingertip in a Hershey’s testing lab after scratching the top of a Mr. Goodbar like a scratch and sniff sticker with its finger nail. Holding it up to my eyes and saying, “You see that? You don’t wipe well enough.” Well I can’t very well wipe inside, like you did, only on the outside, back to front, like my Mom told me, and you too, so that stuff shouldn’t count.

Why did that happen? Why is your finger brown? Not like yours or my skin, but like wet dirt I could bury myself in. In a grave of a cemetary on a rainy day. How much dirt is in there? Not enough to stain your entire fingertip, just enough to stain my entire life, enough to bury me in. 11, 13, 14, 16 is too young to die, is too many burials that were meant to be checkups, is abundant, is redundant, is not old enough to live, is too much time to remember, about the same amount to try to forget, and not. Is vivid, hazy, but clearly uncomfortable. Is (Are) the visit(s) I think my auntie had when she came here a long time ago, and never came back. Neither did I. Is this why my mother, instead of Kleenex, usually hands me toilet tissue when I cry? Did I wipe well enough?

 

 

When my health records can no longer be found at my pediatrician’s (primary care doctor’s) office because all files are now in the care of the city, we cannot access them for my study-abroad pre-travel check up. The doctor is also now retired and only he or she has the codes and things to be able to access these things ma’am. But we can give you the number of the doctor ma’am and you can call yourself so that we may be able to help you.

I don’t call, my mother does. I tell her I don’t want to. I know you say you don’t like her Sweetie.

She asked me years ago if it was because she touched me. She told me about her sister and what her sister said happened. Their family doctor. All those years ago. And so, as part of tradition, one assumes, she took me to the same place after we switched health plans, insurance. I only ask myself now if she ever believed her sister. I only ask now if it was just her sister….I only ask now if it was only the same sister whose father had….My mother had other sisters. Same father. Same doctor, til they grew up. I told her no. She accepted no.

My mother calls. She is older so the volume is turned up and I can hear her a bit on the other end. I only stay in the room to assure it is a short conversation and that it is only about my records. She can talk, my mother. Yeah! She’s still doin’ well in school. She’s at [insert name] university. Ma, she doesn’t need to know that. She doesnt’ need to know my life. Stop telling her things. Sweetie, she’s just being polite. People want to hear about you, (proudly grinning) they like you.

(To myself) No shit.

Yeah, we just moved back to the area and… She doesn’t need to know that! Don’t tell her stuff!

(To myself at my Mom) You are Pavlov. She is the dog.

I tune out.

Records are finally discussed. My mother says thank you. (To myself at myself) She’s just being polite. At least one of them hangs up. I know you don’t like her. I don’t know why you don’t like her, but we didn’t talk too much about you.  I leave the room. Too much was a long time ago. 5 seconds ago.

 

 

When I am in college, I get a papsmear at the student health center. I ask if it includes STD testing. It does. The doctor routinely asks me if I am sexually active, how many partners I’ve had, and when the last one was. She asks if we used a condom. Other questions. Then she asks about monogamy. She asks if I trust the last one. I say something to the effect of not yes. She looks at me, with I-know-better blue eyes and short blond hair. She says in a mother’s expectant, all-knowing, guilt-inducing voice, “Then you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with him, right?”

Sleeping?

With?

 

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