The Fight Over Our Bodies

And the politics of hate, Left-bashing, and the unfortunate ignorance of Angry People(Of all persuasions)

The other morning I found the following attached to a story I wrote about being gang-raped when I was 23:

I have a serious problem with what you describe and comparing it to Christine Blasey Ford’s experience. She CLAIMS she was groped over her bathing suit, and that she THOUGHT she was going to be raped. Comparing that in ANY WAY to what you actually went through is intellectual dishonesty. It often baffles me how Bill Clinton, over 4 decades, sexually harassed, assaulted, and even RAPED multiple women, yet because most leftists like his politics, he was given a pass. Kavanaugh gets accused of something that allegedly happened when he was 15 years old, and he is convicted in the media without a single witness, without a single shred of evidence, and Clinton, who palled around with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and took 26 trips on Epstein’s lolita express, is still looked at favorable by leftists who vilify Kavanaugh. It is the height of hypocrisy and the politicization of the #MeToo movement. It’s reasons like this that we have Donald Trump as president. The left twisting truth and being hypocritical about virtually EVERYTHING. The war against white men, the war again heterosexuality, the war against Christian values…

The left has lost. They have become the fascists and the party against free speech, against Western values, and against innocent until proven guilty. What a joke.

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To say the least, I have just a few issues with this rant.

First, the writer assumes my politics. He — and others like him — have no clue what I believe, who I support, agree or disagree with, nor does he understand in the first person what it’s like to be raped (although in truth I don’t know that). There is a broad assumption here that because I related to Ford and that her experiences spoke deeply and with wicked-awful accuracy to my own as well as millions of the rest of us, that I am on the far far far left.

I struggle to comprehend how that kind of blanket thinking on the writer’s part is any different from what he accuses me of, but then, that is the hallmark of a small mind. It takes intelligence to understand complex grey areas, and issues like this beg that we eschew simplistic black and white thinking.

He effectively accuses the entire Left, of which there is a shrill, ugly, far-Left element that I most certainly do not support, of electing Trump, and killing our country. The Right has its own ugly elements; both extremes are loud and unreasonable and off-putting. The more reasoned of us do our best to hang our shingles in the middle and have leanings in all directions depending on the issue, the day, our upbringing and our experience, what information we have available to us, our moods, whether or not we ate that extra donut at the office, and don’t much agree with any one single group.

I am Conservative on some issues, Libertarian on others, Moderate on many and very Left on others. It depends. To some, a topic that I consider moderate is, to an extremist, off the cliff to the left. It depends. I might argue that a great many of us are like this. Because issues are complex, new information rises daily, and that begs us to consider our stances. Operating this way allows me to understand, empathize and in all ways be far more accepting of other’s viewpoints. That, and the reality that information changes at warp speed, so that what might have been true a year or five minutes ago, may not be true now.

But that is too complex a thought for the thoughtless.

The Kavanaugh-Ford issue opened up massive wounds for millions of women, women who for a hundred million reasons would not, could not and will never speak out publicly. Men who pen vicious material like this cannot possibly understand what we women go through, unless of course they themselves were raped or assaulted. That of course changes the conversation.

First-hand experience usually does.

I have had my share of Medium trollers who challenge the veracity of my experiences. I keep a journal and have since I was nineteen. I wrote these things down at the time. Many didn’t, and while I can’t possibly recall the places where my assaults happened, I can see the leering faces. And I can still feel their hands, their dicks and hear the comments.

The above writer, who I would suspect doesn’t have a woman in his inner circle who has either experienced such horrors or who at least doesn’t choose to talk about them (why would she, if she’s going to get this kind of negating response?), doesn’t seem to understand the responsive chord that Ford’s experience struck with most of us. Too many of us have been there. The widespread, puerile argument I always hear that we should have reported it at the time utterly disregards the cultural response to women’s assaults forty years ago (and now) as well as the unique issues that those of us who were in the military, as in my case, had to navigate. That is a nescient response. The knee-jerk assumption that she’s lying, and the guy had to be innocent.

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Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

After all, he’s one of us, I’m a good guy, so how can he be a bad guy? Well, yes, until your sweet baby sister comes home brutalized, that is. Until your toddler granddaughter, all giggles and light, is found in a ditch, her discarded body torn to shreds by a pedophile, who turns out to be your next-door neighbor, he of the football stats and good humor and bratwursts and beer.

Most offenders are known to us. That’s precisely how they get away with it.

But he’s a good guy.

Let’s define “good guy.” What you and I might define as a good guy might have nothing to do with his definition. I would define a good guy, in part, as someone who a) would never, ever ever assault a woman (or anyone else for that matter), b) understands and respects NO whether a woman is drunk or not, c) steps in and takes care of business if he sees any kind of assault taking place and most certainly does NOT drop trou and join in the fun, just because, and after all, she’s asking for it simply by Showing Up Female.

We do visit these horrors upon each other. Denying them or doing your level best to poke holes in uncomfortable stories doesn’t make them disappear or change their truth. What it does tell me about this writer and the others like him is that it hits way too close to home.

Environment dictates a great many things, especially for women. To argue mindlessly that we should have said something or gone to the authorities is monumentally ignorant. But it’s simplistic, a black-and-white sound bite, it sounds so fucking reasonable.

We don’t live in a reasoned society.

When we are under attack, whoever “we” might be, we circle the wagons. The behavior is predictable and perfectly understandable. In this case, it’s also cowardly.

It is deeply painful to embrace the notion that we don’t live in a just society. We don’t. In a just society, just saying, you and I don’t blame the victim for being brutalized. Yet we do. It’s become a spectator sport in America. Assault victims fear censure precisely because of how Ford was treated. Nobody willingly signs up for such a public flogging, even if it is the right thing to do.

That blaming behavior, which has become increasingly widespread as our own lives are unraveled by economic woes or losses, becomes even more entrenched as worse stories surface. It’s just so much easier to call bullshit on brutality, until, of course, that brutality is visited on us or someone in our own family.

What a shock to find out that indeed the world is not just, no matter how many feel-good movie and book and television endings we consume, the strained baby food pap of popular culture that feeds the need to desperately believe that the world is good, and it will all turn out for the best.

Sure as hell didn’t for Ford, who, while I do not know her, I believe was doing her best to do the right thing for all women ( all people, really) in this country. What a price to pay for courage. All those gymnasts who spoke up after years of assault by the exquisitely evil Larry Nasser got their day in court, and at least one of these POS humans has bitten the dust. But most get off scott-free. To wit:

Every 73 seconds, a woman is raped in America. The younger you are, the more likely.

One of every six women has been the victim of a rape or attempted rape. Far too many of us have been repeatedly assaulted, and in this my hand is way up.

Some 80% of rapes go unreported. So in truth, we really have no idea just how widespread it is. Most of us are far too afraid to talk about it.

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Here’s what you and I rarely hear about:

One in every 71 men in America is a rape victim.

Hey guys, why didn’t you report it to the authorities? Why did you just go out and TELL EVERYBODY WHAT HAPPENED? Why didn’t you immediately seek help? Why didn’t you broadcast this on social media?

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Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

Because. Shame, self-hate, self-loathing, the belief that it’s all your fault, that’s why.

Funny. Sounds like the same litany of reasons we women rarely seek help.

The stigma is far worse for men, who demonstrate an horrific lack of empathy not only for their brethren who are attacked, but for the women who fear them. Which is, frankly, most of us, for good reason.

Some 100,000 male military members have been sexually assaulted in the last ten years. This New York Times article speaks to their horrific reality, which is just as bad as a woman’s, but even more stigmatized.

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We have a president who calls slime balls like Jeffrey Epstein good guys (of course anyone who can provide you with a free flow of underage pussy, willing or not, is going to be a good guy), and Congressmen who go to bat for people like convicted, jailed pedophile Dennis Hastert. Clinton’s behavior, to my mind, and I voted for the man, is just as reprehensible. And let’s please not forget the wholesale victim-blaming during the Supreme Court hearings for Clarence Thomas. Let’s just not.

Liberals have plenty to answer for in this regard, as Anita Hill reported that Joe Biden’s so-called “apology” to her was unsatisfactory. Not only that, it’s just a wee bit too late, Skeezix. So yes, this issue touches every single one of us, and nobody owns the high moral ground. If anything, the moral ground in Washington DC rarely rises above sewage level. To wit:

Here’s what our Great Leaders will do to protect one of their own. In a letter to the court (there were 41 such letters, which speaks to the level of denial that people suffer) the former House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Delay wrote this breathtaking piece of horseshit about Hastert, who abused boys, broke banking laws and had the temerity to start a lunchtime Bible study for his colleagues:

“I have observed him in many different and difficult situations,” the letter starts. “He has never disappointed me in any way. He is a man of strong faith that guides him. He is a man of great integrity. He loves and respects his fellow man. I have never witnessed a time when he was unkind to anyone. He is always giving to others and helping anyone including me so many times.”

Oh he loved his fellow man (child) all right. He loved so much he raped them, abused them, and silenced them. May he rot to death in prison and get cancer of the scrotum, and if there is a just God, may he be raped repeatedly by fellow inmates. First-hand experience has a way of building empathy.

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Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

This is our world. Right up to the White House. And voted in by people like the cretin who effectively accused me of being an extreme Leftist simply because Christine Blasey-Ford’s story so closely mirrored my own, and because of that, had the hair-raising l ring of truth to it.

We don’t live in a just world. Nor do we live in a world where slogans like Nancy Reagan’s monumentally stupid Just Say No anti-drug campaign are worth the air they are written upon. But once such a program goes public, of course, anyone who can’t “Just Say No” to drugs is weak and worthless. That was actually a side effect of that very campaign, as those people who couldn’t just say no were subsequently stigmatized (and untold numbers incarcerated for just smoking dope, an industry now being taken over by rich white industrialists, but don’t get me started) as being bad. Of course they are, until that someone happens to be your 14-year-old son, a one-time star soccer player, now a heroin addict because your doctor laced him with opioids after a knee injury.

I wonder how we will all castigate each other given the vacuous current First Lady’s Be Best campaign, which is at best, meaningless, and at worst, the kind of hair-brained nonsense that we can now expect from any wing of the White House. If we can’t be best, whatever the fuck that means (and nobody has a clue, now there’s a surprise) then this can be used to accuse anyone who isn’t BEST as part of the problem.

“Just say no” is just as useless against rape as it is against drug use. That doesn’t make the sufferer, in effect, personally responsible for their pain.

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Mature people operate, albeit with difficulty, in a world made of up billions of shades of grey. This is the world of complex realities, daily negotiations, constant questions, and a genuine recognition that there is so final answer to much of anything. Living in the question is hard work, spiritual work, brave work. Not many want to inhabit a world where the answers are almost always, Well it depends.

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Photo by juan pablo rodriguez on Unsplash

That honest answer places the demand upon us to constantly juggle information, impressions, ideas, beliefs, and consider options, ways of seeing, believing and being in a massively complex world. That’s part of what emotional maturity looks like. It’s hard damned work.

Simplistic thinkers desperately seek black and white, good and bad, which is why extreme religions thrive in times of change, trouble and challenge. So do autocrats and dictators. Blaming women for being assaulted is the same kind of mind set that blames immigrants for stealing jobs that no modern white American boy or girl would stoop to do. It’s easy, cheap, and lots of folks agree with you.

As in, she was asking for it. He was a good guy. He wouldn’t do that.

Well, Sparky, did you ask for it by joining the military to serve your country only to get gang-raped in the men’s shower your second week at Basic Training? Did you go running, crying, to your Drill Sergeant to report it right away?

Didn’t think so.

Neither did Ford. Neither did I. Neither have billions of women the world over.

That doesn’t make our stories any less true.

I am sorry that truth makes folks uncomfortable. This is a very uncomfortable world we live in, when we discover truths about those we like and trust that shatter our safe understanding of the world. But until you and I have the courage to embrace the fact that there are monsters among us at every level, and listen without prejudice to those who finally have the balls to call out their tormentors, things will continue to get worse. To the deniers, may I offer that it might be time to grow a pair.

As I will have the balls to call bullshit on those who torment those of us who have already suffered enough.

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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