So, this image is doing the rounds on twitter in the last couple of days. It has struck a chord with me in particular because I am sitting with some pretty intense rage. The words on the sign are fairly polite compared to what many might be thinking at the moment, amidst such horrific acts of barbarism on our young women. It hurts my chest, makes my whole body feel heavy…and makes me want to scream obscenities and let this simmering hatred and anger erupt.
Fuck those rapists. Fuck the police who minimise or make victims feel guilty. Or in one particular case, tell the victim she should marry one of the rapists and drop all charges. WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Fuck the women and men who immediately return fire when people voice their rightful anger at these acts with ‘Not all men are bad’ and ‘Anger doesn’t help get people on your side, you know’. Well, fuck off then. If you think women should express their disgust at the fact that girls and women around the world aren’t safe at home or out of it more politely and with less aggression then fuck you. There is something wrong with you if your priority here is the presentation of the words. If you don’t think women should be enraged and passionate about using their voices and standing up together about rape then you should immediately assess the contents of your soul. Also, if you think that women can’t address other women on this issue without using parentheses to include the male victims of abuse and violence, fuck that, too. Nobody knows better than a survivor of this shit that it happens to individuals in every category. But there is an acute imbalance here and it is ridiculous and offensive to me that an attempt to reach out can be dismissed because the hurt party doesn’t mention ‘the others’. Get the fuck over it. Any decent man reading this stuff would not expect that I am speaking for every individual on the planet and I’d posit they would also respect my message without asking about who I left out. Just so we’re clear on that.
You can’t ignore it. Gender. Gender. Gender. Deal with it.
Suppressing and silencing this anger, this natural and reasonable reaction to such horrifying abuse, is dangerous. It’s toxic. Perhaps under a different gender construct, with different social conditioning, this anger and swelling discontent amongst the worlds women would manifest itself in a much scarier, more violent (and much less ladylike) way. Have you thought of that? I have imagined those scenarios in my head. I have referred to them here before. I imagine retribution. I imagine hurting the people who violated me and then covered for each other. A counsellor referred to it as a Release Valve. That is, I don’t really want to hit him with my car, but the thought is a release for my psyche under great strain. I feel like there is something wrong with me at times, for having these violent feelings. It’s not ladylike, not expected and certainly not discussed. I rage inside, the longer this experience goes on without any sense of justice or closure. No career, no pride, no life. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who has been treated with such callous disregard and violated over and over who sometimes thinks what they would do if they could hurt the people who hurt them. Strangers respond with all sorts of violent vitriol on the Internet, from ‘put me in a room with him’ to ‘castrate and stone to death’. Does it help the cause? Perhaps not. But I’m asking you to stop and think about the outcome if there was a gender ‘expectation’ reversal here and millions of women reacted on the outside the way they can be made to feel on the inside. I happen to think that if 1 in 3 men faced sexual assault or rape, with danger in and out of the home, followed by intense shaming and blame for their own humiliation…if they survived the assault…the world would be set on fire. Literally.
I will try to find a way to deal with my anger and building aggression. Not because I give a shit about the idea women shouldn’t lose their shit and feel SO ANGRY that they let it out somehow. I’m angry. I’m really fucking furious. About how I’m being treated. About how all of these other women are treated and hurt and killed. And how if you survive, you operate on a Danger Scale in your head every day. Every interaction is acutely analysed and you never really feel safe anywhere. Go out? Not safe. Start a relationship? Not safe. Even tell someone your story. Not safe. Danger. Judgement. Humiliation. Danger. Danger. Danger!
That’s not a fucking life. I deserve more. A young girl in Delhi deserves more. An old woman in America…we all fucking deserve more.
While the retweets and mentions and sheer existence of assault, rape and abuse sting…and they do…they offer one hope. One life-changing possibility. THIS might be the beginning of the end. THIS could be the time when enough voices join together to be heard. Loud and clear. Some of us hear the voices. But we already know what they’re calling for. So this is another chance for us to add our voices to their voices. THIS is the time to let each woman know, in every country of the world, that we hear them. We support them. We are them. That support helps the ones who have been hurt so badly, that NEED to know that someone hears their cry. That matters a whole lot. It may also contribute to creating a bigger force to be reckoned with. Louder voices. Stronger. Fiercer. Greater solidarity on an issue so shame-filled and isolating. Destructive.
We ALL deserve better than this. Say it out loud. Every chance you can.