If you haven’t read the Twitter site #yesallwomen, eat breakfast first. I didn’t, and won’t be able to eat for a while.
Because it’s true, America: ALL women. N.B.: do men suffer violence? Of course. But today is not the time I’m going there. Today, let’s talk (again & again, until we GET IT) about rape culture. About a crime unlike any other, as one Twitter post noted: bc rape is the only crime where the victim has to prove it wasn’t their fault.
I woke up this morning in a fine mood — showered, made tea, watched the daddy downy woodpecker feed his baby. Watched the mother downy woodpecker help. And then I sat down to go through my email, as I do many mornings. An hour later? I’m shaking.
I do not know ONE woman who hasn’t been the victim of sexual harrassment, domestic violence, up to and including rape. Some have been the victims of multiple rapes. NONE of this was EVER the woman’s fault. But not one pressed charges. Why bother?
A niece was raped at a party. She DID press charges, a messy process that she eventually dropped. Why? Because the process, as the Twitter post notes, makes the victim the villain. Why bother?
I could re-post from the thousands of women have joined the outpouring of carefully tamped rage at their daily encounters with the rape culture of America. All of this a genuine visceral revolt at the UCSB shootings, by a man who was proud of his misogyny, his own visceral hatred of women. Hatred so virulent that he put his life where his manifesto was, murdering them. Who targeted men because they were ‘luckier’ than he was with women. But what I want to say instead (you can — and should — go to #yesallwomen and read the posts) is what happened to me as I read.
Rage. Stomach-roiling, head-shattering, white-hot rage.
And a flood of images: the ‘funny uncle’ we never spoke of (but guarded all the little girls from); the uncle whom I never told anyone groped me on the way back to the dorm. The psychopath who stood outside my bedroom window and whispered I can seeee you through the screen, until I ran from the house as he came through the back door. The colleague — a friend, I thought — who forced his drunken way into my house, saying he loved me, and then tried to force his way into me. As my two sons slept in the bedroom down the hall.
Even as I write, more memories surface: ostensible ‘friends’ who made fun of the feminist theory that kept me from suicide one dark year; a ‘nice guy’ who asked why I wore my long hair up, and dressed in button-downs and khakis at work, when I was so ‘pretty’…? The groping of strangers in countries where women are always chattel. Sisters who were groped, beaten, raped.
So yes, America: ALL WOMEN. And it needs to stop. Because now? It’s evident that no protection is enough from some men. They’ll shoot you just because you’re female. We kind of suspected that all along. We just try hard — very hard, and mostly successfully, and mostly every day — not to think about it. Until they finally kill us. And then? Rage. The same rage that lurks beneath the surface every day. The same rage that fuels #yesallwomen. Go read. We need to remember.