Like many of us, I am so angry right now.
I have spent the last few years reflecting on how lucky I am that I’m not a rape and/or molestation survivor. I’ve always considered myself one of the lucky ones. And reflecting more, I suddenly see how low the bar for “acceptable” really is, and how high the bar for victimization is set for girls and women. This is my lived experience of growing up to be a woman who has never been raped:
–My father and his friend(s) posing my sister and I in sexy poses in our two-piece bathing suits for a picture. I was 4. (In the mid-70s, this kind of thing was actually considered normal.)
–In elementary school, during one of our many all-neighborhood outdoor sleepovers: In a tent with the older boy across the street. Other kids were there. He climbed on top of me, pressing his body into mine, wiggling in ways that confused me, and insisted “Let’s pretend we’re married.” Me struggling and telling him no. His older sister finally telling him to stop. I had no idea what he was doing or why that had anything to with marriage. I remember being scared, and glad when he got off me. No idea how old I was… 6, 7, 8?
–In late elementary and middle school, boys loudly and publicly appraising / rating me and other girls on our attractiveness – our faces and various other body parts. This was a regular occurrence.
–In middle school, riding home on the bus, seeing a naked man masturbating out of his window.
–In middle school, “titty twisters.” Boys reaching out, pinching my breasts, and twisting. Titty Twisters were quite the thing at our school, and I think most if not all girls experienced this. –In high school, the boy who grabbed my breast under the stage during play practice, and then insisted that he had had tripped and it was an accident.
–In high school, two boys grabbing my breasts while I was drunk.
–In college, making out with a friend. I wanted to stop, and tried to. He didn’t want to stop. He held me down using his knees to spread my legs and I fought him as hard as I could. I was terrified and could not get away. He finally stopped. (We stayed friends. He was my friend, and he was “worked up” and I could certainly understand that, right?)
–As a young adult, my ass being grabbed in bars, multiple times.
–As a young adult, my tits and ass being appraised loudly, out car windows, by people driving by, multiple times.
–As an adult, riding the bus on the window seat while an older man next to me in the aisle seat took out his penis and began playing with it.
–As a young adult, male co-worker reaching out to rub my stomach and remark on how nice it was. This happens twice, two different co-workers. –
-As an adult, my intimate partner refusing to stop when I said no, continuing to touch me sexually and pursue me doggedly unless I gave in to sex. Often grabbed my breasts or tickled me without my permission or consent, laughed or pouted when I told him to stop. Countless times over several years. Seemed normal to me. I married him.
–As an adult, riding my bike with my little girl, and seeing a man coming towards me with his pants open and his penis out.
Let me be clear. I am one of the lucky ones. This is a typical representation of normal experiences for the women of my generation. The people who hold power over us and our bodies are overwhelmingly represented by men who have no idea what the true nature of the lived experience of girls and women are like. Men who were raised with entitlement, wealth, and privilege, yet somehow believe that they got to where they are today because of “busting [my] tail.” Men who see women’s truth not as an opportunity for reflection, but as a threat which must be silenced immediately.
This should scare the shit out of all of us.