tequila sovereign

Triggered

I believe Christine Blasey Ford.

I believed Anita Hill.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Fear is not rational.

After a traumatic event, when one develops a phobia, one’s behavior in relation to the object of one’s fear is not consistent. One can be afraid of flying and still fly. One can be afraid of tight spaces and still get in an elevator.

This does not make you a liar.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

1979. I was 17 years old. A 26 year old man asked me on a date. I dressed for dinner and a movie out. He drove me directly to his apartment. He locked the door behind us. He kept the lights low. He made us strong drinks. With rum, I think. I didn’t like it. He tried to force me to have sex. He smelled of liquor and cheap aftershave. Everything in his apartment was in a shade of amber. We were on the couch, then in his bedroom. I said no. I thought he was going to rape me. I thought if I didn’t have sex with him he would hurt me. I was terrified. So terrified I don’t remember how I got out of there. And I still couldn’t tell you how.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Memory must be a shapeshifter from another world.

It was only years later, in 2004, during counseling, that I remembered putting the clothes I had warn that night into the trash afterwards. I hadn’t remembered that before. All I remembered was bound up with this overwhelming fear of being raped, of wanting to get away, and of not remembering anything about how I got away or got home.

After a traumatic event, some things about it you remember in perfect clarity. His odor. The scratchy couch. The amber lamp shade. And some things you will not.

This does not make you a liar.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

2004. I am 42 years old. I was meeting friends for dinner and drinks at a restaurant with a separate bar. I had arrived a bit early and needed to use the bathroom. You had to walk through the bar to get to the bathrooms in the back. I don’t know if he followed me in there or was waiting for me. He grabbed me from behind. He threw me against the wall. He broke my wrist. He bruised my ribs. He tried to rape me. I kicked him in the groin. He was drunk. He lost his balance. I fled. Out the bathroom, into a dark narrow hallway, and out to a parking lot in the back. I ran around the building, over a gravel road, to the street. I ran away.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

I don’t like it when men sneak up behind me.

I don’t like it when I can’t see an exit.

I don’t like using public restrooms.

This doesn’t make me a liar.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

I really hate it when people say that “rape isn’t about sex, it’s about violence.” Really? Then why does it involve violent sex? Of course it is about sex. Sex is many things and one of the many things that sex is about is its use as a violent enactment of oppression.

Rapists use sex to control through force and humiliation. It matters that Kavannaugh and his peers raped in packs. That they laughed together at the women. That they were drunk. That they egged each other on. That they celebrated one another’s conquest.

It was about using sex by force to humiliate and shame women. It is about putting women in their place.

To remind us where our place is. To tell us, in so uncertain terms, that our experiences, our concerns, our feelings do not matter. That we were expected to resist, just a little, to embolden their resolve and sense of self, but finally to submit. To submit so thoroughly that we would keep our mouths shut. Forever. Or be made a spectacle.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

I drink man tears with breakfast. I find them best with a side of partisan blame games and yelling obsenities and self-pitying victimhood. Sometimes I even add a garnish of self-important tragedy. How dare the world hold me accountable.

I refuse the spectacle.

I chose to stand with survivors. And vote in November.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Further Readings

Kavanaugh is Forcing the Legal World To Finally Face its Weinstein Moment

The Delicious Salt of Brett Kavanaugh’s White Tears

Women React

What A Good Boy

Violence Against Native Women is Not Traditional

Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies

A Red Girl’s Reasoning

Barker Got Your Back
Joanne Barker, “Got Your Back” (2018) Digital Drawing

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