Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rape Culture and Me

I have wondered frequently enough over the years why I didn't fight harder when MZ raped me, when JRS raped me, when JD emotionally abused me. What was wrong with me?

But after all these years, I've finally realized that there was nothing wrong with me. There's something wrong with our world.

Today I added a post from a blog to my links section, Rape Culture 101. It's a description of rape culture.

I'm also responding to Another Post About Rape #3.

"The way men and women interact on a daily basis is the way they interact when rape occurs. The social dynamics we see at play between men and women are the same social dynamics that cause men to feel rape is okay, and women to feel they have no right to object. And if you accept those social interactions as normal and appropriate in your day to day life, there is absolutely no reason you should be shocked that rape occurs without screaming, without fighting, without bruising, without provocation, and without prosecution. Behavior exists on a continuum. Rape doesn’t inhabit its own little corner of the world, where everything is suddenly all different now. The behavior you accept today is the behavior that becomes rape tomorrow. And you very well might accept it then, too."

Growing up, I was a Good Girl. I tried so hard to be a perfect daughter, the smart and athletic and involved girl. I was respectful. I didn't talk back. I didn't get into fights. I didn't embarrass my family by my bad behavior. I didn't curse. I didn't sneak out at night (no, actually, I lied about volunteering an extra hour or so at a car wash...). I didn't smoke. I didn't drink. I never did drugs. I behaved.

And I most certainly did not talk about things that would bring shame to my family. I didn't talk about the incestuous molestation I endured. I didn't talk about the depression that was slowly choking the life out of me. I was GOOD!

When I was 17, I set my sights on JD, who was a decade older than me. He worked at the mall, and I saw him there often. He was charming. I ended up at the mall on my 18th birthday, legal at last, and pursued him. We flirted lots, ended up having sex, and he taught me a few things. The sex was good. His behavior wasn't. He broke up with me whenever I offended him, and told me I was a foolish child who didn't know what she was doing. So I tried to learn how to act to please him, because that's what I did. Pleased others.

A BAD GIRL I befriended saw what was happening, saw how I was being taken advantage of, heard the abuse and control, knew how it could end, and rescued me. She started a verbal altercation in the mall and he snapped. He scared the shit out of me. I never went back.

And it could have so easily back-fired, had she been wrong. I would never have spoken to her again.

I ended up taking a creative writing class with his ex-girlfriend. He'd hit her before she got out. That could have been me.

But a bad girl rescued me.

JRS took advantage of my lack of fight at that time too, as I was reeling from the realization that my "boyfriend" was an abusive creep.

And then there was MZ. He flirted with me, always showing a protective face. He wanted to protect me from the world. He would come around and make sure the boys hitting on me in the boy-friendly shop where I worked in the mall were behaving themselves. He even told a guy that was having trouble respecting my decision not to meet him after work that I wasn't interested.

And so I thought I owed him the appreciation of going out on a date with him. He repaid me by raping me. But I was a good girl and I owed him my appreciation for his protecting me. Maybe he just couldn't control himself or something, because I led him on? What was wrong with me that he didn't understand that I said no?

What was wrong with me?

Really, the only thing wrong with me besides crippling depression was that I didn't know how to protect myself when there wasn't a threat of violence.

I was taught to be a good (and passive) girl.

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