Sunday, December 13, 2009

Its important to me

Facebook has been a place where I don't say or do anything that might suggest life is not perfect... Its not that I am trying to hide...its just that I am trying to hide...

I use the excuse that its not the place to discuss hard things (it might not be). I use the excuse that no one wants to read about sad things. I use the excuse that its a place where everyone shares only their best side. (We don't take pictures of our family when we are fighting... We take pictures when we are happy.) I use the excuse that I don't want to be attention seeking like some people I know.

I did something a little different tonight. I posted that I signed a petition asking a columnist to apologize for blaming a victim of rape. I honestly believe she WANTED to give good advice, but she didn't. The original letter (and her response) is here.

I couldn't figure out WHY what she said bothered me so much, but it did.
I thought about friends, who still won't use the word "Rape" to describe what happened to them. I wouldn't use it until after several others had used it first. And still, I have only said it out-loud a few times... Why? Because I feel silly using such a strong word to describe what happened to me. Because people will think of me as disgusting, or they'll question what I am saying, Because it is a very scary, nasty, ugly word used to describe a very scary, nasty, ugly, horrible act. Because I don't want people to blame me. Because I don't want to be laughed at. Because it could have been so much worse... I don't deserve to use that word to describe what happened to me.

The girl in the column wrote in asking, "I guess my question is, if I wasn't kicking and fighting him off, is it still rape? I feel like calling it that is a bit extreme, but I haven't felt the same since it happened." She needed help, support, someone to tell her she wasn't alone and...

Instead, Amy STARTS her response by saying, "First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Getting drunk at a frat house is a hazardous choice for anyone to make because of the risk (some might say a likelihood) that you will engage in unwise or unwanted sexual contact."

No, that is NOT first. The girl admitted to making poor choices. She did NOT need to hear that she was a victim of her own awful judgment. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. And wrong.
First, she was a victim of rape. She needs help. There may come a time where she will need to take responsibility for the choices that put her at risk, but that is very, very far down the road.

This girl wrote an advice columnist feeling helpless, scared, alone, shamed, hurt, and so much more... And the advice columnist entirely missed the point. And she perpetuated a lot of crap. I don't think she is the only one with a problem, but there a lot of people that need to change the way they think. If I were responding to the letter, I would have written it like this:
Dear Victim?:
First, if you don’t consent to sex, it is rape. There is no second.

Whether you were drunk or sober is irrelevant. Although being drunk and agreeing to go to someone's room could make you feel responsible, it doesn't make what happened to you any less of a violation.

All the risk reduction measures in the world could never amount to risk prevention. In the end, the person responsible for rape is the perpetrator; he is the ONLY one who can prevent it. What he did was WRONG!

The most important thing now is for you to get whatever help you need. You know what’s best for you. I would encourage you to speak to someone you trust. I assume you wrote to Amy, because you felt afraid, uncertain, scared, maybe a little crazy, doubting yourself, questioning everything you ever thought about yourself or the world around you. Amy is naive, blind, IGNORANT. She doesn't know. Talk to someone who does... a counselor, a doctor, a church leader... and keep looking until you find someone who can help you understand what happened and heal from it.

Were you violated? Yes. And then you were revictimized by Amy Dickinson who blamed you. There will be others like her. Remember, there are others who understand, and who know better.

You have a very hard journey ahead of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Many people wrote the Tribune blasting Amy. I wish the blasting weren't so... blasting... because what is important is getting lost in the arguing. She even wrote an apology (here), but she still very much missed the point.

Just because a girl is drunk... doesn't mean anything... A man can get drunk, and he is not in danger... But... I don't think getting drunk is okay... And... the girl getting drunk has nothing to do with anything. People who are completely sober also completely freeze when they are raped. It is a way to survive the moment... It feels very confusing afterwards... Why didn't I fight harder? How could it be rape, when I just let it happen? Its actually a completely normal response. It does not make what he did okay!!!! Ever!

So, I signed the petition. And then I posted it to facebook. I didn't say I was a victim, but...

It FEELS like I did. Suddenly, I feel vulnerable... everyone is going to know how disgusting I am... And they are going to hate me and despise me... and... they are not going to respond to the post, but will think lots of horrible things about me.

I am trying to pretend like I don't care what people think when they see that, but really, I care a lot. I want people to understand and to change. And I'm afraid most will not do either.

1 comment:

  1. If you feel strongly about anything, you have the right to speak out about it. If you venue you choose is facebook, you should do it. I sometimes wonder if facebook is the best venue for serious things, but you don't need to worry about what people think. I guess the only thing I worry about is that facebook may not be the place to really change minds. Your last paragraph sums that up when you said, " I want people to understand and to change. And I'm afraid most will not do either."