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In which I'm self-indulgent to purge myself of a brain loop - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
terribleturnip

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In which I'm self-indulgent to purge myself of a brain loop [Feb. 4th, 2013|01:31 pm]
terribleturnip
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Usually my dreams are these bizarre conflagrations of some kind of emergency or trauma or apocalypse where I'm late, being pursued, have a mission, being chased and ten thousand things need to be done along the way, you know, late for the BeeGees concert at Penn State, trying to get friends from my current life to the stadium on time, but along the way I have to stop and help free up a horse that is somehow stuck on the spiral staircase in the middle of the campus bookstore. Not that the BeeGees ever played at Penn State, not that there's a circular staircase in the bookstore. But that's how my dreams go - essentially speeded up, surreal versions of my day. Like if Dali had a go at my appointment book. Thankfully I only occasionally remember them, because they are exhausting.

But last night was different. Last night -- and bear with me, because I do suscribe to the theory that there is little in world more tedious than hearing a play by play of someone else's dream. But there's going to be a point. Last night there was very little surreal in my dream, sadly. My car had broken down and the only surreal thing was that I had a lot of bags of stuff that I needed to bring with me. And a nice guy stopped to help and offered me a ride home -- which wasn't far away. Helped me pack my bags into the trunk of his car. It's getting dark and we head off and we go through this short tunnel/underpass. And suddenly he drives up really close to the side of the tunnel, so that my door is practically scraping the side of the tunnel...and then tries to rape me.

Here's the good news: as the car pulls up against the side of the tunnel, I have a fair amount of panic, and even now, just writing about it, I can still feel a twinge of the fear and despair, but then, in the dream, I'm able to push right past that and move to pissed off, are you expletive kidding me, which often saves me. And when he comes for me, he hits nearly 200 pounds of rage, and it's me on top of him and I I manage to snap one of his fingers and completely cow him. And then it gets more than a bit surreal, in a television show kind of way, because somehow I force him to drive back to my car, help me unload my stuff and then I tie him to a tree and call the cops. Wouldn't that be a nice resolution in real life? Admittedly, I have precedence, having been able to stall date rape by applying my own physical strength twice before. But in both occasions, I was lucky, I know that.

But that's not the point. Here's the thing -- as the car slid along the tunnel side, as that cold, dead, dread feeling spread from my gut outwards, and the no, oh, no, no way, this can't be happening was playing in my head...you know what else I was thinking? "It's all my fault, I never should have accepted a ride from a strange man and it was almost dark and why didn't I wait and..."

Let's call it a bad decision, getting in that car. Fair enough. And if that were only a scene in my dream, I'd totally let it go. Although frankly, I needed to write about it to get it out of my head, because my brain wouldn't stop reliving it.

But I guess you'd also say that about the two times I was almost date-raped. Foolish to be alone in a room with a guy, making out even, and then I decide I've gone far enough and it's time to go home? And he tries pulling me back and then blocks the door, locks it and threatens me. Yeah, okay, not my best judgment being there in the first place maybe. And thankfully, I'm no petite flower, and had years of experience with 1500 pound animals trying to push me, kick me, bite me, get their way and had a fair amount of confidence in my ability to stand my ground and radiate authority. And I was lucky that I could tap into that pissed off bully in me and fair vibrate with indignation and threats of exposure that completely covered up the fact that I was scared and scant millimeters from bursting out into tears.

Foolish again, on a blind date, outside at an event and wanting to run up to my room to get a sweater and my date gallantly offers to come with me and when we get inside my dorm room....a kiss turns into being thrown onto my bed? But I thought it was a good idea to not go back to my dorm room alone, that it would be better to have someone else along...but I guess I was wrong again?

And that's the thing -- over the ensuing decades, whenever I told those stories...it always comes around to "see, that's why you should never..." No one has ever said "what an asshole!" Never mind did you report him or turn him in, tell his coach, call the police.

Twenty eight years ago, that would have been ludicrous. But sadly, it's STILL ludicrous. It's still almost always the woman's fault. You were in a parking lot late at night, you were dressed a certain way, you shouldn't have, you should have. Hell, in India, apparently being on a BUS is offense enough to warrant murderous gang rape.

Yes, there are risks inherent in everything -- hell, I get on a horse and gallop across the countryside, jumping obstacles, there is a risk that I could break bones, snap my neck, die even. And there are some people who would say I was in idiot for doing that. But not many, should my horse shy and throw me onto a fence, would say I DESERVED it, it was my fault for being on the horse anyway. It would be an unfortunate accident. And the horse isn't a sentient being who understands cause and effect, or has much control over impulses, or a has a sense of right and wrong. So, why do the guys get off so easily?

Oh, you were drinking! Well, then, what can you expect, but that a bunch of teenagers will gang rape you, film it, pass it around, and then a good percentage of the community will stand up and defend them, and call you a whore.

Boys will be boys, they said when I was younger, a lifeguard and had a group of teenage boys jumping off this abandoned structure in the lake I was working at. And I asked the men chaperoning them to tell the kids to quit climbing on it and they laughed at me. And then laughed even harder when the boys got bored with the structure and came for me. And about five or six of them picked me up, carried me into the water and tossed me in, everyone laughing. And my co-lifeguard had called the police, who showed up and told the kids to go home and shook hands with the kids' chaperones and laughed and said to me "oh, you're not hurt, they're just being boys."

And I want to weep sometimes. Because I think that so much has changed, but then I realize that really, to a large extent, I've just made sure I'm surrounded by good people. And all that crap is still going on out there.

I will try to get back to the funny, but I needed to deal with my feelings on this first.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pyratelady
2013-02-04 08:07 pm (UTC)
First of all, I'm so glad that you were able to fend off those assholes who attacked you, both in real life and in your dream.

I know that as a female who had a confrontation or two (thanks to luck and instinct I managed to avoid something worse) and as the parent of a female I am definitely going to teach my girl to assert herself and defend herself. Most importantly I intend to teach her that Priority #1 is that she feels safe and empowered. NOT what society thinks or whether she hurts the feelings of the jerk who wants to take liberties without her express permission. (ugh. I sound positively Victorian.)

I think somewhere along the line between "Woman, you have no say" and now, parents started teaching their girls to defend themselves and look out for themselves, which is a great start, but the idea that parents should also teach their boys NOT to be sexual attackers somehow got overlooked. Rape culture has become so ingrained that we seem to wearily accept it as something that cannot be changed, because we as individuals can't do anything about it. We can, like I said earlier, only defend ourselves and our girls. It's also pragmatic, much like the advice to avoid walking around alone into a city alley after dark if you don't want to get mugged. Who's going to tell a mugger that they shouldn't mug somebody? It's illegal, so it's pretty much understood, yet people rob other people every day. The fact that often these attacks happen between people who know each other blurs the line and makes it harder to criminalize the act.

And widespread attitudes take a long time to turn. However, I've seen things written, ad campaigns and such, that give me hope that at least people are starting to speak out in a more public and widespread way. In this country it seems that the more a message is repeated, the more people start to believe that it's true.

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[User Picture]From: russell_moore
2013-02-04 09:09 pm (UTC)
this story reminded me of some talks I had with my daughter ... talks about how boys are basically dogs, so to not give any of them the benefit of the doubt ... some of those conversations were of course generated by my own experiences ... because I was a dog ... not to the point of unwanted advances and rape, but definitely to the point of charming my way past certain levels

and picturing my daughter faced with a teenage version of me ... and the way it made me cringe at the thought ... and me wanting to give her defenses against that, and things worse than that

yeah it would be nice if people could have a common decency level ... but just watch any news program and you know that is not the case ... as you noted, the current attitudes towards rape in India are ghastly and have me completely baffled ... she was asking for it because she got on a bus? really? wtf?

I am very familiar with the "boys will be boys" attitude ... but I know while I was a boy taking advantage of that mindset, it did NOT include rape and assault ... the fact it seems to now in some places indicates we have regressed ... and that is pretty scary

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[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2013-02-04 09:18 pm (UTC)
Fuck I'm sorry. And let me go on record: what assholes.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2013-02-06 07:30 pm (UTC)
Ha, awesome! About time....::grin::
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[User Picture]From: sestree
2013-02-05 12:57 am (UTC)
I'm glad you had the presence of mind to think WTF and fight back. So few do because of the sheer panic.

That's a scary dream. Could it in anyway be tied to a gee I wish I had someone around when I'm stuck painting the ceiling thing? And this be your psyche's way of saying oh HELL NO?

Just asking.

Good on your purging it. That had to have been terrifying - especially for someone who prides herself on control.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2013-02-06 07:32 pm (UTC)
Nah, today's post explains why the awful dreams - plus, I'm active in the humanist/secularist/atheist sphere and there's tons of concern about this stuff.
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[User Picture]From: im_geva
2013-02-05 03:15 pm (UTC)

I have to wonder...

When did the tables turn? When did we go from a society where men were respectful of women to the current rape culture?

Do men feel, somewhere deep down, that because we're finally getting closer to equality that they have to now punish us for it? Show they're still the more powerful sex?

Was their 'respect' for all those centuries merely a show of power? Women were their little pets to be treasured because the women would defer to the man's wishes and decisions?

Ugh. So depressing.

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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2013-02-06 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'd say there's no more or less respect for women than there ever was. Women are just no longer necessarily under the protection (or "owned", if you want to read that in a glass half empty historical fashion) of their father until they are transferred to a husband. I don't think it was respect for women as fear of repercussions from the male protectorate. Stray dogs are fair game, right? Although when it comes to the bullshite in India (the women who are being raped and beaten to death, or eviscerated by the tool used to rape her) and other countries is definitely a backlash against women seeking more freedom, combined with a dismal global economy and hard times. Someone's got to be to blame, right? Although before we judge those other countries too harshly, we need to remember we have our own wingnuts here who think that natural disasters are caused by feminists and birth control and gay marriage
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