This is just a stream-of-consciousness rant, it might be triggering or incredibly boring.....
My dear women....I was reticent about coming back to this one at all; I thought it might be best to let it die....but my thoughts about the power of words won't go away.
(((Els))) Your thoughts about whether saying "I was raped" are equivalent to saying " I am not a person" have been constantly with me. I know it's how I have felt.....
We live in a society which seems to need to blame people if they have been victimized; this extends not only to victims of rape, but Jews; many bizarre (and extremely offensive) theories have been trotted out about how they were complicit in, or even deserving of, †their own murders. As a refugee worker, I have seen groups of people who have lived through shocking circumstances being blamed. People often create a "moral equivalency" situation; oh well, they are just as bad, you know? WHY are war-victims, rape survivors and others who have lived through severe trauma seen to be "less?" It goes back to what Mistral said some time ago; if we imagine we can control horror by behaving better, we will feel safer. It's magic-think, you knoww, like "step on a crack, break you mother's back".
But it's also a perpetrator-compliant mentality, and that's terrifying. It's terrifying to me that 90% of society seems †to think that anybody horribly abused must be somehow "inferior", and this especially if they are hurting about it.
I have come to the conclusion, and it will be nothing new to you all, that being open with the "r" word means that we can be opening ourselves up for that inferiority. Stigma, yes, that's it.
((Shaina)) I remember, like you, the mixture of pity and revulsion that my mother spoke of somebody who had been raped with. I think it infects more than we might be aware....and pity help when we are stricken by it. What have we got to fall back on except what we have learned?
The thought occurs to me that perhaps it's fruitless to ask society to change. Ask it to stop stigmatizing rape/CSA survivors.....remember that line in "Top Gun" where a perfect #######'s behavior was sneeringly excused on the grounds that "he was abused as a child"?
Oh, Shannon! You are so right, people's looks do change; instead of thinking, that's a terrible crime for somebody to commit against another person", it becomes about you!
SHOUTING:l WHY IN GODS NAME ARE RAPISTS NOT STIGMATIZED FOR NEEDING TO DO THAT TO A PERSON IN ORDER TO FEEL BETTER AVBOUT THEMSELVES! IT'S SO WEAK!.
I don't think it will change because we think it should.
My belief is that I need to not keep begging and pleading with society to change it's mind about rape; perhaps I can boldly change how I respond to it.
Maybe I can tell it that no matter what crap is dished up, I will refuse to wear the garment of stigma anymore.
But I wax and wane, I can be very "out there" with some, but not with others. It depends whether I fear they will see me as less. I would say "I was raped" to an impersonal journalist, I have no vested interest in what their opinion is. But in front of my two sisters.....never....I couldn't stand that they would see me as less....maybe that makes sense, maybe not.
Isn't it frustrating, Elle, that some husbands see rape as not quite something they can see hapenning to their partner? Other people's concept of a word, which impacts on us....we can see and feel their thoughts...
But to get more personal, Emma, yes, I have begun to think that we have our own personal connotations around words, too. And magical or not, uttering them seems to bring them closer. Wendy, thank you for that timely reminder. I realized I had been doing a lot of telling people how to say what......and I'd forgotten that I still feel bound myself. By the "other" thing, as I call it, that he did.
I cannot say....those words, because I am ashamed still. I know I did nothing wrong, but I feel as though, if I say them in their technical terms.....he will somehow still own †me. He did it for that reason, that I would have nothing left for myself and to humiliate.
Why is it that I never see a sister who experienced "that" kind of rape as less? But I do see myself as less. I feel lessened, humiliated, owned.
(((Mistral)))I didn't know that it was common, (although it shouldn't have surprised me) to know that women feel more shame around this form of rape. Thankyou for affirming that I'm not unusual, it was so helpful.
It's probably false pride, but I just can't stand the thought. I feel angry, enraged, sick.
Why? this will sound patently ridiculous, but the invasion of my vagina just feels more "acceptable" than...where you go to the toilet for christ's fucking sake.....I have never put it out quite like this; please excuse me....sisters please I am so sorry.
Yet I am amazed at those who can say it. Say...that somebody put his thing there....oh it feels so weak. Especially when I can be so coarse....but that coarseness takes me away from my feelings; "gutter-girl" is tough and nothing matters. Not even men who do things like that, she does not fear. It's as if she stands in front of the cowering child I was.
But too, my women, I was only thinking this afternoon, that if words have negative power, they also have positive.
I thought about some of the things some of you have said that have had life-changing impact on me. It has brought me to a stage here I am saying things nobody knows....ad after tlling here, I often laugh that I was so worried....maybe there is truth in the idea that the reaction you get when tyou tell will be the one through which you come to expect all other responses to be.
Oh ####! I have a bottle of Guinness (which is usualy nothing) down me, and I am rambling like mad. I feel fear at carrying on like this. But beneath that fear is the absolut knowledge that my fear is groundless here.
It's madness, I'm scared you'll see me as diety even though I know you won't. Does anybody know that feeling?
Thank God I came to know you;
Things seem to hurt much less after airing them here.
(Edited by Rachel Pike at 8:03 am on Sep. 1, 2001)