Friday, October 3, 2014

I'm going to complain about rape culture now.

Last night, I sat outside in my beach chair to have a cigarette before bed. I heard what sounded like rustling in the bushes and waited to find out what sort of animal would emerge and how fast I would have to flail and make noise to scare it away before fleeing into the house.

But then the sound changed to shoes stepping over rocks. A person, not an animal.

And then some dude appeared from behind the neighbour's bushes and walked towards me.

Mum's condo is in an extremely safe suburban neighbourhood. But my first thought was not "oh hey a neighbour that's cool." My first thought was to consider how much damage I could inflict upon him before running and screaming. I had a cigarette and a lighter as my only weapons, and the sliding glass door is kind of difficult to open in a hurry.

It turned out the guy was not a serial rapist, just a neighbour two units down who noticed that someone else was smoking outside and decided to say hello.

I tend to turn a blind eye (or just find something else to do on the internet) when the issue of rape culture comes up in my Facebook or Tumblr feed. I know it's an issue, but burying my head in the sand keeps me from getting upset about it. Because in reality--as last night's incident can prove--there is no way to truly ignore it.

Last night was not an isolated event. There is at least one time every day of my life where I have to stop and assess a situation before I can feel safe continuing about my merry way.

Sometimes when I'm alone in the office, we get random male visitors (delivery guys, lost people looking for someone else's office, walk-in new clients, etc.) and there are times when I freeze and make sure I am ready to grab the scissors just in case the guy that walks in is dangerous.

Sometimes if I'm running errands and it's dark out, I will not park or get out of my car if there are no parking spaces left in the lit portion of the supermarket parking lot. I'll go to a different store.

I no longer go hiking alone, because a while back there was a news story about some girl getting attacked in Ramapo Reservation, which is what I would have considered the safest spot to hike around here if you're alone. Even before that, I went hiking armed with a hunting knife.

I stopped going out to pubs on the weekend with friends because there were too many incidents with guys getting overly aggressive and angry because I didn't want to give them my number or go home with them.

Remember in the past how I've panicked because someone bailed on a concert and I was left going into the city alone? Recently a guy acquaintance asked me why the heck I was so panicked about it. And he was serious. He actually didn't understand why I was so afraid.

And this is why I scroll past those stories in my news feeds and bury my head in the sand. Because this is how life is and I hate being reminded. Constant vigilance. Constant fear. Because I am female.

I've read people on the internet who say that all of the above is bullshit. That bothers me even more than the constant fear. I know what it's like to be chased home in the dead of night, your only thought an intense, almost crippling fear. I know what it's like to be cornered in a dark and empty hallway where there is no one nearby who will hear you cry for help. I know how awful it feels to have a complete stranger grab your ass or your boobs.


No one can tell me my vigilance and fear is just me being paranoid.

10 comments:

  1. i have no idea what to say to this, so i will just say that people are fucked up, but there are a lot of good people too. i'm glad you're keeping caution. the world is a dark and dangerous place sometimes, but somehow, it makes the most beautiful, brilliant colours. don't forget that. the world is a constant contrast of what it was and what it is. it's beautiful, and at the same time, it's dark and ugly. the trick is to find a way to look at all the colours without being blinded by the light.
    take care of yourself, Mich. you are too lovely to be hurt. always take care of yourself.
    don't stick your head in the sand for too long either - various arthropods may crawl up and eat your brain when you're least expecting. but don't stick it so far into the sky that you get burned by the sun.
    i hope i didn't say anything that might have offended you. rape culture is such a dark topic, and i don't want to go about it. the biggest thing that does bother me other than the stupid excuses for why 'she had it coming' was the fact that people also ignore the fact that it happens to men too, and women do rape men. and i think that a lot of men have been assaulted or felt sexually unsafe on one end (and they'd be perfectly straight - another thing i dislike people bringing up) but they are not allowed to speak up because of social stigma. it is just not a game, but some people assume that they can somehow turn it into a game. black is black. white is white. there is no greyness sometimes - you just make it up as you go along.
    again, i hope i did not say anything to offend you. i care for you deeply, Mich. and i do not know why but i feel as sometimes i say the wrong things. and if i did, i apologise and you can disregard this comment entirely, but i will say it again: stay safe. take care of yourself. and you are your own shield or your own poison. <3

    -Sam Lupin

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  2. my love, you have never offended me, nor do I think you could <3

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  3. If someone gets bitten by a dog, people usually see a resulting fear of dogs as rational even though most dogs are not aggressive. It's so fucked up when otherwise reasonable people don't understand the fear of sexual assault. When I went camping with the uncle (K) I told him I must have one of his dogs IN my tent for the night, even though we were in the same site. He laughed at my fear. I wanted to deck him. I'm also educating Charlie on the experience of women and how words and actions feel because we don't know which guy is going to flip over to "Fuck you, bitch" if we don't respond in the way they want.

    I go in and out of wanting to deal with it because I am a lot more sane and functional if I can block these things out of mind beyond the level needed to protect myself. It shouldn't be on us to explain to Random Dude that approaching a petite woman who is alone after dark can in and of itself be a threatening move. :::sigh:::

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  4. I'm thinking of hanging a mace next to the poo bag clipped onto Xander's leash since I'm having to wander around with him at all hours. "Let me pet your puppy" will not be an acceptable excuse to come close to me. I live in a quiet neighborhood in a very low crime suburb but humans are humans.

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  5. The whole fucking time. Always. My mantra when I'm walking alone is, "please God, don't let me get raped, attacked, assaulted, or even talked to by a male. Please God, don't let me..." On and on. Going to the laundry room is HELL.

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  6. I cannot even believe how much I want to just shake and tell someone repeatedly this is not bullshit in the slightest. One of my research areas is called 'Geography of Fear' - look it up, it is a new area of study in the discipline, who is mostly affected and researched in this area? Women. What does it relate to mostly? Women alone in areas associated with 'fear' and being attacked, with a specific focus from researchers asking 'wtf can we do to help people!?'. It scared the shit out of me. I couldn't understand why my fellow students and peers could shrug it off as an area of research so easily. Like fuck man, we have a subdiscipline on people getting attacked and specifically analyising this? How did we reach a point where we needed this? Morals out the window, objectives aside, heads buried in sand.

    I hope you are okay (fuck I am so sorry it's been the longest time) and have been. You are one tough cookie.

    Speaking (unfortunately) from (multiple) experience(s), sexual assault is not a joke and stays with you for life. However you experience it - in person, second hand, witness, reading in the media, hearing from a friend, the fear socially ingrained as a result of rape entrenched 'culture'. It is, bottom-line, horrible. Do whatever you need to feel safe.

    Be safe, much loves and hugs and sorries for not being around recently. Sounds like 2014 is being harsh on many of us. Love and light, you are wonderful as always xxxxxxxxxxx

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  7. Worst part about this damn jailbird being in my house is having to be out alone late at night because it's the only way to get on my computer. :(

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  8. Even though I don't think my fear is as intense as yours, I do still feel anxious when I'm alone somewhere at night. Especially when I go running after work. Even though the place I choose to run is in the middle of "town" and there's a major road right next to it and several other people always there walking/running as well, I still get a small sense of panic when I find myself running towards a man/group of men. I also get cat called on a regular basis which is so disgusting/humiliating/demeaning.

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  9. Either my phone or your we page have an axe to grind and the comment box won't open on your Trades of Hope post. If you have a party, I'm all in! I've done some work with Christian Freedom International, and they also try to create handcraft business opportunities for people.

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  10. I do that, size up strangers and try to determine what my defensive (and/or offensive) moves would be. Then they turn out to be friendly but it's always in my mind, constant vigilance. Sad but true and I've never even been attacked. I try not to let it stop me, but I always feel ready. My dad taught me to be aware, always be aware of surroundings, never carry all my money in the same place, etc. You never know when someone is ... "going through something." Humans can be the best, and sometimes the worst. I word rather be surprised by nice behavior.

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We say whatever we want to whomever we want, at all times.