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Apr 09 2006

Sassy’s Survey

By way of dipping a trepidational toe back into the murky pool of patriarchy blaming, I’ve been meaning for a couple of days to post this link to Sassy Pants’ survey on sexual violence. She says a lot of you guys participated, so go see what thou hast wrought.

We’ve all been harrassed. What I want to know is, who among us hasn’t been forced or shamed or guilted or brainwashed into fucking someone we really didn’t want to fuck? Does such a woman exist? Are you that girl? Gimme a holler.

159 comments

  1. Tam

    I’m that girl. However, as a teenager, I kneed several crotches, delivered one black eye, and broke the nose of the captain of the first XV. Thank God somebody taught me how to say ‘No’ the non-verbal way, because they sure don’t listen otherwise.

  2. bitchphd

    I was going to say “me too”–thinking of the guy in college who kept nagging and hassling me until I finally, literally, lay back and said “okay, fine, go ahead,” which made him realize what an ass he was being. He didn’t fuck me, but he acted like an asshole the rest of the year because, natch, I was such a bitch to him, poor boy.

    But just as I was writing, “I’m that girl too,” I remembered the first guy who ever put his dick in my vagina. He didn’t exactly nag me into it, but he did turn out to be the kind of bullshit artist who has an eye for girls who are ready to lose their virginity, dates ‘em, convinces ‘em he’s safe, gets to be The First, and then promptly dumps them and starts dating their little sisters. Not harassment per se, but not exactly honest dealing.

  3. dalaimama

    I, too, have never been coerced. I did almost break my hand when a man’s jaw happened to connect with my backhand after repeated requests for him to leave my breasts alone as he was, in fact, not my date. The best story is a blind date who took me to Chili’s and a movie (this was about 20 years ago so it was a pretty inexpensive date) and then got his panties in a twist because I wouldn’t invite him up to my place. Upon being told that I “owed him”, I took a twenty out of my purse, handed it to him and exited the vehicle stating, “We’re even.” The best part is that the idjit kept hanging out at the bar down the street from my house. He’d get up to go to the bathroom and I or one of my friends or even the bartender would hasten to inform his date of his proclivities, whereupon she usually left. When he finally figured it out, the bartender made him get on his knees and apologize to me in front of a Friday night crowd. Even indeed.

  4. kathy a

    i totally don’t believe the numbers on sexual harassment, unwanted physical touching, and verbal abuse. way too low.

    i’m that girl. the really nerdy one, who said no 8 billion times — so often that the friend who introduced me to the love of my life also warned him that i was “frigid.” [what are friends for?] i just kind of like my bodily integrity.

  5. anty

    I’ve never been coerced or given in under pressure, either, but I’ve also never had anyone try to coerce or pressure me. Part of it is luck, I think, but there’s also always been something different about me and how men see me. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been hit on (I’m 30), and every boyfriend I’ve had (there haven’t been that many) was one I went after. In fact, thinking back to my early sexual experiences, I was probably the one doing the pressuring.

    This used to bother me when I was younger. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t getting the male attention pretty much every other woman on earth seemed to be getting. How screwy is that? Thankfully I grew out of it.

    I also spent the first 22 years of my life in single sex schools, so that may have had something to do with it too.

  6. Sibyl

    My experience is about the same as anty’s. I don’t get hit on, I don’t get flirted with, and I’ve made the first move with just about everyone I’ve slept with.

    About all I can offer by way of possible explanation is my friends’ opinion that I give off some sort of “don’t fuck with me” vibe. This also explains why I’ve never been accosted on my rather-too-frequent midnight walks through terrible neighborhoods.

    I am also one of the few women of my acquaintance who does not worry about being sexually assaulted, probably because men aren’t in the habit of wanting to sleep with me in general.

  7. Pony

    It’s sounds very like someone is saying they haven’t had any problems in this manner because they are strong and give off don’t fuck with me vibes.

    I can gar an tee that’s not going to help one fucking iota if someone wants to show you who’s boss. It has NOTHNG whatever to do with sex.

  8. lexicon

    I’m not That Girl, and I can’t think of anyone I know who is. However, I would like to echo Pony in the sentiment that the posters who have not been forced/shamed/etc. are lucky above all else. Just as the victim is not to blame, neither can one claim credit for escaping the de rigueur sexual violence of the patriarchy simply by virtue of personality or will.

  9. Marie-Elise

    I’m that girl, also. I’ve only slept with one-and-a-half people, so it isn’t a huge sample size, and I’m not making any assumptions how long I’ll continue being that girl. I know I’m lucky, in the mean time.

  10. Pony

    I know women who’ve only slept with one man, and can fill in several boxes on Sassy’s survey. It’s not how many you’ve been with, but that fact that there are men on this earth with whom you’ve come in contact. I couldn’t begin to list all the various ways and number of times in 63 years, but only 5 (five) men as intercourse partners, have I been assulted.

    It isn’t to do with number, or youth, or age, or how you dress, or if you are strong or weak, or have protectors (don’t get me started) or not.

    You’re a female. Or you’re a child. You’re game.

    They do it because they can.

    If it hasn’t happend to you, the operative word is “yet”.

  11. kathy a

    oh, i agree. i’ve been incredibly lucky. and so far, my daughter has been also. she is smart and careful and angry — but any medium-sized dude who wants to hurt her has a decent chance. it is scary being a mom.

  12. Pony

    It’s usually a relative, partner or husband. The random hit is, well not rare, but not the bulk of the stats.

  13. Pony

    Afterthought.

    If anything should convince doubters that whether one homosexual ior not is NOT a choice, looking at the women who’ve been assaulted in so many ways over their lives but still choose males should. It’s hard wired.

    You often hear stupid doctors STILL saying women forget the pain of childbirth to go on and have more. Blah blah blah. It’s not true of course, but if even the first part were, it would be women forget the pain of being heterosexual and go on to have more men.

  14. One in Progress

    That’s me too.

    And I also have no love life and practically no sex life. And I hate it when feminists respond to accusations of man hating or assertions about what is not attractive to men with, “My bf/husband/lover/etc would beg to differ.”

    I’m way too old to be a virgin, but at one point I just decided to wait til I really physically and emotionally wanted to have sex, and it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m afraid that it won’t because it’s too big a deal and I’m too nervous about it.

    I tell my friends I’m a non-practicing believer in pre-marital sex…

    Sometimes I wonder whether my phermones just aren’t broadcasting right or something.

  15. Mandos

    It isn’t to do with number, or youth, or age, or how you dress, or if you are strong or weak, or have protectors (don’t get me started) or not.

    This sounds sadly defeatistic to me, even if it’s true.

  16. Pony

    I don’t think you’re alone in that. Lots of women are virgins years past what somebody now dead and forgotten deemed normal. I bet everyone here could give you a different age and number of times. No normal.

    But there are some things that can hamper one’s sex drive. Some medications for example. All the new so doctor-fave anti-depresssants, and WHO KNEW all the birth control pills.

    Geez way to go guys and gals there in the pharmaceutical labs.

    If you’re shy and don’t go out around people much, you really limit your chances of meeting someone who just hits. {She said to the computer.}

  17. Pony

    Well I’m so sorry Mandos. I’ll think about a way to reword it so’s not to pitch you into a downer. Deal?

  18. Annie

    Weighing in with Pony et al. I have my doubts about the numbers of people who suggest great personal triumphs over the most unpalatable habits of the patriarchy.

    Also, to Dalaimama, I LOVE your tale of patriarchal resistance at the bar with your friends; it reminds me a great deal of a “prick-away” stunt a girlfriend and I used pull on a real skank who was coercive and aggressive with me. I’ll spare y’all (and myself) the detailed narrative of what, how, and why I crawled in with this A**H***, but when he showed his depicably prickly colors and found his was to TWO of my girlfriends/co-workers I continued our usual habit of going out for drinks after work. I’d even buy him drinks (Johnny Red on the Rocks!), but then when he was on the road going home (a trip that only had ONE route in a SMALL town) I called the cops and gave ‘em his license plate number and description of his car “weaving all over the road and in and out of traffic.” Bob had a lot of s’plainin’ to do when the uniformed patriarchs caught up with him! A few weeks later I had a friend call his office and leave a message for him to meet yet another woman who was on his “to do” list. We left him the phone number at our favorite watering hole, and had him calling 2-3 times. We nearly p’d our pants listening to the bartender shout, “Is there a Darlene here? Call for ‘Darlene’ from Bob! Darlene!” Our final act of awfulness came when he scammed with another girlfriend of mine to get us both in bed. I never spoke to her again, but the sister involved in the Darlene scam and I had a delightful time letting the air out of that f’ers tires before he left work one afternoon!

  19. Mandos

    That wasn’t my point.

  20. Pony

    Could you elaborate then? I’m not a mind reader.

  21. Mandos

    It wasn’t about making me sad. I think defeatism is a problematic state of mind to be in. Even if there’s a lot of evidence that one is going to be defeated, is it really a good idea to go around thinking that you can’t protect yourself somehow?

  22. Pony

    There are so many ways I could answer you Mandos, but at midnight on Sunday night, I’ll just direct you to the FAQ. This is not Feminism 101. The answer to your preposterous implications lie in your overdue feminist education.

  23. Mandos

    Uh, I read the FAQ a long time ago. I’m not seeing my preposterous implications. I don’t see how defeatism vs nondefeatism is covered by Twisty’s FAQ. I’ve been reading Twisty for many months now and haven’t so far seen how some position on this issue is simply assumed by anything she, at least, writes.

  24. Ron Sullivan

    Mandos, Mandos, Mandos. Getting hurt is not the same as getting defeated.

  25. Mandos

    If the goal is avoiding getting hurt, then getting hurt is being defeated. Twisty is clearly asking in this thread if there are any women who’ve avoided getting hurt in a particular way. Some people have claimed that they have. Other people have claimed that if they did, they just got lucky, and their own personal attributes have contributed nothing to the likelihood of getting hurt.

  26. alix

    Sure, i could be that girl. No guy i’ve ever dated has made me do things i didn’t want to do. But that’s mostly because i a) make sure to date extremely wimpy guys who are very grateful for everything i deign to do, b) get really pissed if they ask in a not-nice way, and walk out (that’s happened more than once), and c) am too busy worrying about the fact that i was probably, all things considered, fucked seven different ways from sunday as a small kid to really get around much.

    i spent high school punching and kicking boys to make sure they knew who was boss. They did. They stayed the hell away from me. That’s one way to avoid getting hurt.

    But man, it really makes me mad that other women’ve dealt with this. i guess everyone wishes once in a while that it was just her, because it’s too upsetting that it’s everyone. And i agree with the sentiment that those stats seem low.

  27. vera

    I agree with Pony; in fact, I’m thanking Pony for her response because I had an instant, stomach-churning reaction to reading the statements implying that some sort of “don’t fuck with me” vibe is all one needs to avoid being assaulted.

    For me, that’s just a little too close to suggesting that if only the ten-year-old had been more defiant, the pediatrician wouldn’t have given her that “breast exam.” Or if the 98-pound college freshman had been a little tougher, the guy who forced his way into her room wouldn’t have harmed her.

    And that’s just *my* personal experience. I’m sure half the women who comment here have similar stories. The rest are, as some have pointed out, lucky.

  28. Kelda

    I’m also a non-practicing believer in pre-marital sex. I like that phrase and will adopt it :)

    No, I haven’t been coerced. I think that my size (over 6ft, muscly) goes some way to transforming the sort of intimidation I receive – it’s much more that I’m ugly, fat, disgusting, a man etc. It’s not obvious sexual violence, but I think it is related. My friends get wolf-whisted – I get verbal abuse. They are two sides of the male gaze coin – fuckable or thumpable.

  29. Adrienne

    I am that woman. I don’t know why. When I was younger I was extremely shy and introverted and was never really around anyone besides my family. By the time I was 14 I was 5’9”, taller than just about anyone else in my social circle. I was also an athlete during my teen years. When I hit my 20’s I started putting on weight. Now, I’m one of those invisible overweight people. I’m pretty much ignored. I’m also a very straight forward person. Tell me what you want and I’ll tell you if it’s something I want. Most of my childhood I had to watch my mother and father play mind games with one another, and others, and now I just don’t put up with it.

  30. Tam

    I know I’m lucky. Most of my friends who’ve been raped or assaulted were under sixteen at the time; it was brothers or uncles or dad’s best friend or their best friend’s big brother. No amount of strategy or nose-punching is going to help you sometimes.

  31. AndiF

    mandos, it’s not defeatist — it’s a just statement of the fact that women who haven’t been raped didn’t avoid getting raped, they just happened to avoid men who rape.

  32. Dr.Sue

    Not disagreeing with the statement that those who haven’t been harassed/abused are lucky, but there also is something to be said for attitude. I say this as someone who, because of early experiences too similar to others detailed here to go into, walked around for years with “victim” stamped on her forehead. This sign attracted predators who left my less-vulnerable sisters alone. I didn’t even know I was wearing it for a long time. Once I got it, I worked for years to get the sign surgically removed, and now those guys don’t bother me so much–or if they do, they get the picture fairly quickly. That’s not to say I’m “safe”–just that day-to-day life is a bit easier. Now I work to help other women remove their signs as well. It’s not a matter of blaming the victim, but of teaching her that it’s not her fault and she doesn’t have to take this garbage just because some idiot (or many of them) once used her as a receptacle for his entitlement and rage. The way I usually express it is, “If you’re bleeding in the water, the sharks will find you.” The sharks are out there, and they may find you anyway, of course.

  33. Annie

    While being raped or viciously coerced (which in my book is the same as rape and assault) are horrible and all too common, they do not represent the kinds of coercion and pressuring that I suspect is common in an enormous percentage of encounters. Don’t read me as saying that rape and assault are minimal! Oh no! I talking about something entirely different here, that’s all. What strikes me in the commentaries from people who say they’re “that girl” is that few if any make an accounting for the head trippy stuff that lands you on your back, panties drawn, and legs apart. What? Are there no women here whose up-bringing – the bit about being raised to be a wife and mother and other myths of the patriarchy – didn’t leave them unprepared for proper prick management? There’s no one here who has tolerated sophomoric sexual behaviors from a boyfriend or uncomfortable positions with a spouse or SO? Gimme a break. The tolerance (mostly silent) that most women have for sexual misconduct or discomfort at the hands of their male intimates is one of those corrosive habits that works at both the individual and collective level. If it isn’t vicious or violent, who would tell or allow themselves to believe that it was out of the ordinary? Example: It wasn’t until my girlfriend “L” was divorced that I learned about her husband waking up with a hard-on in the middle of the night, and just walking around to her side of the bed with his dick aimed at her mouth. She lived for years like that! But of course she never told. I think there are a lot of people who don’t tell (note the generally agreed upon low stats sited here) because they don’t often give voice to the non-normative (or maybe in their lives it is the norm) behaviors at play in their lives…which is just how the patriarchy likes it. Voice is just as important, more so perhaps, than any “don’t fuck with me” aura. And fighting back can start even when some filthy fuckers hands are off your body. Check this out:

    http://www.browndailyherald.com/media/storage/paper472/news/2004/05/31/Commencement2004/Rape-List.Serving.The.Brown.Community.Since.1991-726507.shtml?norewrite200604100840&sourcedomain=www.browndailyherald.com

  34. Pony

    Sigh. I see a huge tendency here to blame oneself: I didn’t look tough enough, I looked too tough, I’m tall and big boned, I’m small and shy…. I prescribe a continuous dose of Catherine MacKinnon until you get it: YOU. WE. Are not to blame.

    If you’re not bleeding in the water, the sharks may take that as test.

  35. Annie

    Agreed, Pony. For those of us who were raised (tacitly or explicitly) to excuse, dismiss, tolerate, or accept responsibility for the foul and inappropriate misdeeds of the patriarchy, there is an awful trend of self-blaming…even in this place…designed expressly for blaming the proper entity.

  36. Pony

    Rape lists: at one time some neighbourhoods in the drag fought back by taking photos of cars and license plates. Traffic, all of it, just moved to other neighbourhoods. Tidbit: The fav place for slightly upscale street hookers in my town was around the gov buildings. Noon was like a mall on Boxing Day.

    Have you seen this? I now think I love technology:

    http://hollabacknyc.blogspot.com/

    Subway pervert exposed by cellphone photo

    Possibly as an excuse to use the catchy headline “Onan the Vegetarian,” the April 10 issue of New York magazine has a profile of raw-food enthusiast and subway flasher Dan Hoyt. (Be warned that the opening paragraphs of the piece describe a flashing incident and have a high yuck factor.) Hoyt was convicted of public lewdness on Feb. 27, after one of his flashing victims, Thao Nguyen, snapped his photo using her camera phone, took it to the police and then posted it on Laundromatic. The image wound up on the cover of the New York Post, and got Hoyt arrested. (He hasn’t been sentenced yet, but he expects to get two years’ probation.)

    Hoyt seems to have learned approximately nothing from the experience; he’s quoted in the profile saying that some women find being flashed arousing, and is angry that Nguyen took his picture and posted it. If Nguyen ever met him in person, he figures, “she’d probably want to go out with me.”

    Silver lining: Nguyen’s ordeal inspired Broadsheet fave Holla Back NYC, which invites people who have been flashed or catcalled to turn the tables on their harassers by posting their photos online. “She’s our princess,” Holla Back cofounder Lauren Speers says. And Nguyen’s feisty attitude makes our day. As she told New York mag, “He picked the wrong person to do this to.”

  37. Cass

    Like some others here, I avoided victimization at a vulnearable age in large part, I think, because I was morbidly shy. I’m still an introvert today, but I’m 6’2″ as well, and I’ve learned there are certain things you can do, as Dr. Sue said, to at least minimize your chances of being preyed upon. (And yes, this has been very well attested in scientific research.) Contra Pony, I don’t believe this has anything to do with blaming those who have been victimized. Its a matter of learning things you weren’t aware of before for better taking care of yourself.

    (One tip I adopted from a former boss: never, ever be alone in a car with a man you’re not related to, no matter how well you think you know him.)

  38. Dr.Sue

    “If you’re not bleeding in the water, the sharks may take that as test.”

    Point taken, Pony. Again, this isn’t about blaming anyone but the perp, though. It’s simply that women who have been treated like dishrags learn to treat ourselves the same way, and not to notice or object when others do so. Ridding ourselves of that tendency does have the effect of eliminating a certain type of unwanted attention. Not all, not all the time, and not our fault when it does happen.

  39. Annie

    Re: hollaback

    Thanks much, Pony. LOL! I love Nguyen! It’s nice to see that these here new-fangled cell-u-lar telephones serve a greater purpose beyond distracting already incompetant drivers from the less important tasks of using proper signals and stopping at red lights. Blaming away the morning here, and lovin’ it!

  40. joolya

    Hm. I was going to say that I was that girl, but then I remembered riding the bus in middle school and being continually harassed (along with the other girls) by the more numerous boys. They’d climb into our seats, make very lewd comments, snap our bras, etc.
    Anything more recent than that I think I must have blocked out.
    Aside from traveling through Spain, France, and Italy, but the catcalls didn’t bother me too much.

  41. Twisty

    Dave Chapelle had this sketch, a commercial for a product called “Wrap It Up.” It looked like a red Exit sign, but it said “WRAP IT UP” and the joke was, you turn it on whenever someone is droning on a little too long—the judge at your arraignmnent, the first date telling you the story of her life, etc, and say, “it’s time to Wrap It Up!” Hardy har. Anyhow, the final scene shows Chapelle pounding away at this woman, who looks totally bored. Finally she whips out the Wrap It Up sign.

    You see where I’m going with this? You gals who say you’ve never been coerced—and I’m not disbelieving you, I’m just trying to be clear—you’ve never just laid there and taken it, out of some sense of wifely obligation, when you’d rather be, say, cleaning the hair out of the bathroom drain? Has he never kept at it, saying “Just a minute! Just a minute!”even when you’ve expressed to him that you’ve had enough? That sort of thing?

  42. Cass

    I don’t know how rare I am, but no, I’ve missed out on that experience. (And if a man had kept up this way, it really would’ve pissed me off.)

  43. Annie

    Yes, Twisty, m’dear! That is EXACTLY the sort of thing I mean! And the FACT that there is such an alarming degree of silence relative to this sort of thing is where I think MORE attention ought to be focused. There are lots of scholars and activists (though perhaps not nearly enough) who respond to the painfully obvious foul practices of the patriarchy, but sadly little attention is given to the collective mindset that seems pervasive even amid so-called feminists. If one more woman, “feminist” or otherwise says to me something to the effect of, “Oh, he’s a guy, what do you expect?” or “That’s just the way men are…” I am literally going to barf upon the speakers shoes or sock ‘em right in the kisser! What I wish I could expect is zero tolerance for “the way men are,” but the system of tolerance has been in place for so long I really have my doubts about the possibility of its total collapse…though I refuse to give up trying. Wouldn’t it be delightful if the “good” wives everywhere began turning on the “WRAP IT UP” signs and coming up with more and consistent other signs of zero tolerance for accepting what clearly ought to be unacceptable?

  44. anne

    Yes to Annie and yes to Twisty. It’s not something I am proud to say, and it’s something that needs to change in my life. I have indeed participated in positions and other sexual behavior with my spouse that does nothing for me, even things that are painful or uncomfortable – it’s all about him. Totally all about him. And the part about preferring to clean hair out of the bathroom drain? True. Oh so true on many occasions.

    I’m learning, though, and I’m slowly changing into the person I want to be – and deserve to be.

    Thank you, Twisty, for this forum. I have learned so much from you and from your commenters. It’s not that my eyes weren’t open to the problems… it’s more that I was wearing blinders on purpose – for the sake of what? The relationship? Such bullshit. I do blame myself in part for being the submissive wife, for tolerating things that I knew I didn’t want to tolerate… but I also blame the patriarchy.

  45. Annie

    Incidentally, before I turn the “WRAP IT UP” sign upon my own dear self, I want to pass on the details of an excellent blaming essay from the scholarly realm. It treats “survivor discourse” and can be accessed easily (if you are a student or faculty member at a college or university) through JSTOR. I think that it makes a good companion piece to Sassy’s survey. I have used the article in my own work.

    Alcoff, Linda; Laura Gray. “Survivor Discourse: Transgression of Recuperation?” Signs, Vol. 18, No. 2. 1993, 260-290

  46. Pony

    I seriously doubt anyone could be more take charge looking and acting than me Dr. Sue. And it hasn’t helped one bit. I grew up in a tough town, I’m not nice mouthed most of the time, I don’t turn my gaze away, and I’ve paid for it in loneliness.

    So I think I read someone inadvertently saying just what’s going on: It didn’t bother me.

    Oh yeah?

  47. B. Dagger Lee

    Who is that girl? Was it luck or canny defense? The last time I ventured into heterosexuality I remember thinking, Well, this is the last time I do this, but you know I let him finish, even though for me, we were having bad sex, or bored sex on my part. Definitely a wrap it up experience.

    Regarding sexual violence and in the discussion above, how a woman has avoided it, or not avoided it? I enjoyed the very long posting of Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay on breast cancer by—Pony? antiprincess? Forgive me for not remembering who.

    So I will be equally long or presumptuous and post a poem by Irena Klepfisz, holocaust survivor, lesbian, Jewish progressive—human should be the word that encompasses all. My copy I took from an anthology entitled Against Forgetting, edited by Carolyn Forche. I used to use it for a class I taught in prison, and so I have it in digital form. The women I taught really loved this poem, it spoke to the complex web of events and reasons of how they wound up in a Federal prison.

    I also recommend Alice Sebold’s book, Lucky, for a teasing out of the complicated threads of fate, control and luck, regarding her rape. She was told she was lucky she was not murdered by her rapist. Anyway, the poem. I should say also that bashert means predestination, or fate, although Klepfisz expands the meaning.

    Bashert (by Irena Klepfisz)
    These words are dedicated to those who died

    These words are dedicated to those who died
    because they had no love and felt alone in the world
    because they were afraid to be alone and tried to stick it out
    because they could not ask
    because they were shunned
    because they were sick and their bodies could not resist the disease
    because they played it safe
    because they had no connections
    because they had no faith
    because they felt they did not belong and wanted to die

    These words are dedicated to those who died
    because they were loners and liked it
    because they acquired friends and drew others to them
    because they took risks
    because they were stubborn and refused to give up
    because they asked for too much

    These words are dedicated to those who died
    because a card was lost and a number was skipped
    because a bed was denied
    because a place was filled and no other place was left

    These words are dedicated to those who died
    because someone did not follow through
    because someone was overworked and forgot
    because someone left everything to God

    because someone was late
    because someone did not arrive at all
    because someone told them to wait and they just couldn’t any longer

    These words are dedicated to those who died
    because death is a punishment
    because death is a reward
    because death is the final rest
    because death is eternal rage

    These words are dedicated to those who died

    Bashert

    These words are dedicated to those who survived

    These words are dedicated to those who survived
    because their second grade teacher gave them books
    because they did not draw attention to themselves and got lost in the shuffle
    because they knew someone who knew someone else who could
    help them and bumped them into a corner on a Thursday
    afternoon
    because they played it safe
    because they were lucky

    These words are dedicated to those who survived
    because they knew how to cut corners
    because they drew attention to themselves and always got picked
    because they took risks
    because they had no principles and were hard

    These words are dedicated to those who survived
    because they refused to give up and defied statistics
    because they had faith and trusted in God
    because they expected the worst and were always prepared
    because they were angry
    because they could ask
    because they mooched off others and saved their strength
    because they endured humiliation
    because they turned the other cheek
    because they looked the other way

    These words are dedicated to those who survived
    because life is a wilderness and they were savage
    because life is an awakening and they were alert
    because life is a flowering and they blossomed
    because life is a struggle and they struggled
    because life is a gift and they were free to accept it

    These words are dedicated to those who survived.

    Bashert

    Yours in sisterhood, etc.
    B. Dagger Lee

  48. Cass

    Pony: Loneliness is often the price you pay for not playing the rules laid out for us. And while I personally think it beats the alternative, I understand what you’re saying, and am very sorry. It ISN’T fair.

  49. radfemlezzie

    Pony (#13):” If anything should convince doubters that whether one homosexual ior not is NOT a choice, looking at the women who’ve been assaulted in so many ways over their lives but still choose males should. It’s hard wired.”

    How then to explain my choice NOT to associate with men, because of their reprehensible, disgusting behavior–and to then go on to have incredible, passionate, and satisfying intimate relationships with women? And if you think this is off topic, let me just ask who it serves for women to believe that our sexual preference is innate, that we can’t choose to reject exploitive relationships in favor of intimacy and equality? “Well, yeah, men are dicks, but what can I say? I’m just not attracted to women.”

    This entire blog as well as many others is all about the reasons why we’re taught not to question assumptions like that–because when we believe “we’re born that way” and there’s no alternative, we have no choice but to keep trying to find the “exceptional man”–or to deny the need/desire many of us feel for an intimate connection with another person. This keeps our energies and attention focused on men.

    I blame the patriarchy.

  50. Cass

    “Lucky” is also a book that should be read by every woman… though I didn’t care so much for the novel she followed it with.

  51. Pony

    Annie’s article:

    http://www.alcoff.com/content/survdis.html

    Incidentally, before I turn the “WRAP IT UP” sign upon my own dear self, I want to pass on the details of an excellent blaming essay from the scholarly realm. It treats “survivor discourse” and can be accessed easily (if you are a student or faculty member at a college or university) through JSTOR. I think that it makes a good companion piece to Sassy’s survey. I have used the article in my own work.

    Alcoff, Linda; Laura Gray. “Survivor Discourse: Transgression of Recuperation?” Signs, Vol. 18, No. 2. 1993, 260-290

  52. Pony

    I don’t it’s possible to choose whether one is homosexual or heterosexual. It is possible to choose not to have disgusting relationships, with homo or hetero assholes.

  53. Sara

    I’ve never been coerced into sexual activity either. I have had casual sex because I was too unsophisticated to know how to avoid it gracefully, and in these circumstances, all of which occurred when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was at the same time curious and feeling like it didn’t really matter to me whether I had sex or not, when it came right down to it. So each of these times, ultimately, I figured — if you’ll forgive the pun — “Oh, what the fuck?” However, I have also successfully said “no” when I meant “no.” I have successfully defended myself against rape using both my physical strength and my wits, and I have ignored and/or openly sneered at plenty of accusations of “frigidity” and being a “tease.”

    So yeah, I think I’m that girl. I haven’t been shamed or guilted or brainwashed. I also haven’t really cared that much about sex, one way or another, in my life. I mean, it was far, far harder for me to give up cigarettes than it has ever been for me to go without sex for any period of time. I think that indifference might have something to do with it, but I’m really not sure what.

    Maybe the ability for others to wound us sexually depends at least in part on how strongly we identify ourselves via our sexuality. I don’t know.

  54. Kelda

    Arg… have just been reminded of something in a disability magazine about sexual surrogates:

    http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/timetotalksex/timetotalksex_feat1.htm
    http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/timetotalksex/survey_002.htm

    Yeah, social and physical barriers to your sex life suck, should be considered along with lots of other things in social model of disability etc. But somehow all these guys think they have a right to sex (that’s an actual quote from the end of one of the articles “sex is a right”). There are women mentioned in both of those, but the numbers difference and the way they are quoted seem to say quite different things to the men.

  55. Pony

    I give up. If after all this, Sara can say that. For today; I give up. Someone more articulate and focussed will have to carry on.

  56. Jezebella

    Mandos, there’s nothing defeatist about Constant Vigilance, and knowing that my luck – and it IS luck – could run out some day, regardless of age, beauty, size, attitude, or height. See Granny Gets a Vibrator for a recent post on sexual assaults against older women. Some guys like an easy target, some like a challenge.

    Twisty, you asked a nuanced question in the context of a survey about violence, which skewed your answers. The nuance is this: where is the thin line between coerced sex and sex that goes on a little too long for one’s taste. Just because I’m done doesn’t mean he’s done, and vice versa. I wouldn’t want my lover to get in, get off, get out, right? So if it takes him a little longer than me, that’s fine. But then there’s the line that gets crossed when it’s a continual coercive wifely-duty thing… the woman whose husband pointed his dick at her mouth in the middle of the night – jeebus – that just isn’t the kind of thing one wants to tell anyone else, so how many people tolerate this kind of behavior? How many men think it’s acceptable.

  57. Dr.Sue

    Pony, I hear you now. Just wanted you to know.

  58. Annie

    Ya know, as I sit here tied to this blog, knowing full well that I really MUST do some other things today, I am feeling all welled-up with emotional vacations, which I’d give to Twisty if she hadn’t sensibly taken a holiday herself. It is, in large part, the fact of this conversation that is so entirely disturbing. It sucks that this crap is even a topic of conversation. We might all do well to grab our cameras, head off to a new or favorite chow shop, check out the poop-pots, and schlep back home to the comfort of our domesticated critters. (Katie, my 5 month old Sheltie/Jack Russell/??? mix, is more theraputic than any tasting menu from Jean Georges, and much less expensive.) Yes, Twisty, do lets shun the patriarchy. Methinks I have a ceviche craving coming on…and a Tito’s handmade gimlet with keylimes will do nicely later tonight when I indulge in my own blaming holiday.

  59. Ron Sullivan

    Radfemlezzie, that just suggests you’re bi, like me. At a gut level, I don’t actually understand why everyone isn’t — not just because it makes for more options and broader adventures, but because how can anybody not get hot for certain people of any sex? — but I’ll take their word for it, as I would for anyone’s talk about their personal subjective experience. And being bored in bed is an equal-opportunity job, though it’s certainly warped statistically by the load placed on our sense of fair play. Just sayin’. (And you get shit from all directions for being bi; just sayin’ that too.)

    Mandos, what I was after was percisely not applying “defeat” so narrowly, because it doesn’t parse that way, and because what we’re talking about is more like “This is a likelihood, and while there are things you can do to shave the odds, it’s so common that it’s probably not about anything you did or could prevent.” It’s what good old consciousness-raising has in common with rock-climbing lessons, especially the one about what to do if you get stuck on a ledge somewhere.

    (Probably won’t happen in SW La., V’Liz.)

  60. Jezebella

    Radfemlezzie:

    You tell us that your sexuality is a choice. Fair enough. But for many people, sexual preference is not a choice. If we follow the slippery slope of your argument, then those vile christian ex-gay movements are RIGHT: if you can choose to be an ex-heterosexual, then someone could also be an ex-homosexual. Do we really want to align ourselves with that point of view? Do you really believe that? I don’t.

    However, like many women, I *have* questioned my assumptions regarding my heterosexuality, dated a woman, and found that I prefer men. Every time I get my heart broken by a man, I think: hm, maybe now I should try dating women again. But you know what? Women break each other’s hearts. They cheat on each other. Hell, some of them even beat on each other. I’m not convinced that women are inherently better partners than men. We’re all fucked up to some degree by the patriarchy, men and women alike, and this can factor into gay as well as straight relationships. Combine that with my sexual preference for sex with men, and homosexuality doesn’t work for me. Please don’t assume that I’m just a tool of the patriarchy, fucking boys because Big Daddy says that’s what girls do.

    It is faulty for you to assume everyone who lives a hetero lifestyle is simply blind to the alternative and has never even considered the possibility of partnering with women instead of men.

    Pony: I’m hearing you.

  61. Cass

    I’m a thoroughly hetero person who doesn’t at present feel the need for any sexual or romantic nonsense with a man; most of my emotional needs are met through a very close relationship with my best female friend. Lucky me.

  62. Pony

    I haven’t learned the academic’s distance with these things. Any. Things.

    Wow the river’s open. Bye.

  63. missginger

    I have never been coerced or forced. I was taught from a very young age that my body is mine, to do with what I want; no one else has a right to it. I do believe that does make a difference in how a young woman views her relationships with men and with herself. My first boyfriend tried to rape me when I was 14. Instead of being frightened and ashamed, I was enraged. I fought him off, and told him that if he didn’t take me home immediately, I’d tell everyone who’d listen, and have him shot (a lot of the people in my family are in law enforcement; we’re pretty comfortable with guns). He drove me home without another word. Could he have overpowered me if he’d really wanted to? Yes, absolutely, but I think my attitude made him think I would be too much trouble for him in the long run. I was taught to be righteously angry at the very idea of someone else controlling my body. Both my mother and my father taught me this.

    When I say yes to a man, I say it wholeheartedly; when I say no, I accept no counterarguments. I’ve been called a bitch more times than I can count, and who cares? Obviously if a guy is calling me a bitch because I won’t let him into my pants, that’s all he wanted from me in the first place, and he can go have intercourse with himself at his earliest convenience.

  64. Puffin

    “Counterarguments”???

    Are you for real. Jahzus, people, I mean really.

    What passes for control in terms of women’s right to bodily sovereignty (as evidenced by the inordinate number of “I’m That Girl” posts in this thread) just completely blows my fucking mind.

    How down-right liberating it must feel for all of you to know how not to get yourself raped. How grand!

  65. Annie

    Briefly returning from my self-imposed (and not a moment too soon) “WRAP IT UP” action and blaming session. I must wave a “Here! Here!” flag over by Puffin’s last statement…even if I tend to think that the heart of Twisty’s inquiry really wasn’t focused upon rape and threats of rape so much as the putrid underpinnings of patriarchy, the more usually tacit or implicit coercions that lead a woman to think it is an act of love or kindness when she chooses to endure what she’d prefer to “Wrap Up.” And the coercion isn’t limited to actual sex, by the by. I include in this genre of patriarchally-induced sex coma, the decisions to paint one’s face when you’d rather go bare…the donning of pantyhose (a contraption assuredly created to induce suffering)in order to mask varicose veins or slip one’s dainty little tootsies into some pair of cockroach killing stiletto’s that would be better used upon the crotch of some patriarch who couldn’t take “no” for an answer…that sort of thing.

    Yes, Puffin, it is a bit frightening, though, to think that walking among us are those who believe that imbibing or posessing some kind of feminist V-8 is like a hedge of protection against would-be perpetrators. UGH!!!!!!

  66. kathy a

    puffin — the question here was not rape. it was agreeing to sex under coersion — a more nuanced question, having more to do with giving into pressure in a relationship — saying yes when one wants to say no.

    i can’t see that a single person here believes we have the key to preventing rape, or harassment, or groping, or all the other crap. it is easy enough to see why and how women might be coerced, and i’m sure it has happened to plenty of people. the general environment is not at all liberating — all i’m saying is that i’m lucky enough to have avoided this particular indigity.

  67. kathy a

    pantyhose, i have given into — for work and funerals — but not stilettos. no way, no how, never.

  68. Pony

    Sex under coersion is rape.

  69. Mandos

    I’m probably treading on the most dangerous possible ground here, but I think that coecion is being used in two different senses. If, for instance, my parents guilt-trip me into doing something, that’s a rather different form of coercion than them, say, threatening to deny me basic sustenance (assuming I were still living with them and had no other choices). I’ve a feeling that people are distinguishing between the former and the latter.

    Whether that’s a valid distinction in this context is another matter.

  70. Annie

    I dunno, Kathy, while I think we are more or less shooting from the same blind, I can’t help seeing how/why the conversation has drifted in the direction Puffin has commented upon. There are some here who do seem to be suggesting that self-conscious attitudes, practices, and up-bringing have allowed them at least some degree of immunization from coersion of various kinds. It’s hard not to get one’s back up in response, ya know? Still, I think where I have been aiming in my own too many cents posts has been more akin to what you say about giving-in to forms of coersion for the sake of some relationship. I suspect that loads of folk endure, tolerate, mask their ambivalence etc. because the structures and discourses of patriarchy (the networks of power and games of truth)are fairly prohibitive. A statement to one’s male intimate like, “Stop that. I don’t like it.” or the decision to sleep in one’s own bed in one’s own room because one prefers to sleep alone…no such speech acts of rhetorical actions go unnoticed or unpunished by the patriarchy. Sheer guilt may play a role in perpetuating very subtle-yet-obvious forms of coersion. I wonder how many women would really prefer to maintain their own bedrooms or even residences even when married…? I wonder how many endure non-aggressive-but-still-unpleasant sexual or sex-related encounters as a kind of peace-keeping mechanism? Or as a result of some inner guilt-o-meter that has them convinced that there are certain thinkgs a woman must simply tolerate or chalk up to some irritatingly acceptible usualness of male behavior…?

  71. Sibyl

    Could he have overpowered me if he’d really wanted to? Yes, absolutely, but I think my attitude made him think I would be too much trouble for him in the long run.

    missginger has put it the way I wish I had (in order to avoid pissing people off). I didn’t mean that a “don’t fuck with me attitude” is somehow proof against assault — or that people who are assaulted were somehow to blame for not seeming “tough” enough. I understand that we are all potential victims, and given the number of women I know who have been victims, I’m grateful for whatever statistical fluke has thus far protected me.

    At the same time, I would argue that all rapists are, at heart, massive cowards. They want to commit violent acts against women, but they don’t want there to be any real effort involved (because beating up a woman should be easy for manly men, of course), so they’re going to be looking for what they perceive as “easy” targets. As missginger puts it, if they think you’re going to be too much trouble, they’ll probably (not always) look elsewhere.

    As it is, my own attitude toward sex and my body has always been extremely UNhealthy — for which I blame, of course, the patriarchy — but in a way that seems to discourage men from sleeping with me. Nobody with any sense wants to stick a hand (or a dick) into my particular brand of crazy, I guess.

  72. kathy a

    if you say yes to your partner and secretly wish it wasn’t happening, it isn’t rape. icky, ugly, but not a crime. this really is a more nuanced question.

    outside the sexual realm, i say yes when i don’t want to, all the damned time. i do things for friends and family and colleagues because it i think that is part of a larger social contract we have, to help each other out.

    human life and human relations are messy, and the patriarchy makes them worse. we agree about that, right? i haven’t noticed that we are competing for feminist of the year, and maybe we all are better for being able to talk about our different perspectives.

  73. thebewilderness

    I took the Sassy survey. At first I was creeped out by how many boxes I checked. Then I was relieved that there were a goodly number of revolting experiences I had not had. I was delighted to see so many commenters who saw themselves as a person who had not been oppressed to that degree by the patriarchy. It gives me hope that there are those who did not suffer the constant assault on their human dignity that was the norm for my cohort. I can’t be sure which was worse, when I thought I was the only one who suffered or when I realized how many others suffered. I blame vigorously and often.

  74. kathy a

    annie — your post reminded me of an article i read a while back, about couples who do live in separate homes, because they get along better that way. if you haven’t seen it, here’s a link:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/29/HOG7HDEB7B1.DTL&hw=adair lara&sn=006&sc=844

  75. Cass

    Sex under coercion is obviously rape, sex under nagging is more difficult to peg. At the very least, it indicates both a sense of entitlement for himself, and a lack of respect for you; and we know from the stories of domestic violence and “date” rape victims that its very often an early sign of worse things to come.

    In short, its the Patriarchy incarnate.

  76. Annie

    kathy a – that couple was on TV not long ago. I was also thinking about them while I was writing my post. Cool story…even if I am just as sure that no one (not even them thar SF marital innovators) goes unscathed in under the patriarchal economy.

  77. Puffin

    kathy a, Don’t talk to me about nuance and then tell me that saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” ISN’T rape.

    Don’t tell that to me, or to a woman like Linda Boreman, who said “Yes, yes, YES!!” over and over again in the movie DeepThroat while men stood off camera with guns and kept her pumped full of drugs. Don’t tell it to girls like Yoon Ahn, who by the age of 14 had been trafficked all over the U.S. and Canada, taught to scream, “Yes, yes, more!” when middle-aged business men bought, used, and abused her body. Don’t tell it to the millions of little girls whose fathers teach them that love means getting Dad off so they come to look forward to their own violation. Don’t tell that to the 21-year old college student at Aberystwyth University in Wales whose rapist was found not-guilty because he drugged her and in the UK, a drug-induced “yes” is consent.

    Don’t use the word nuance and then go on to try to explain to me how rape and a “yes” under duress is all that fucking different. Don’t compare rape to your running an errand for you friend. And MOST IMPORTANTLY do NOT talk about the compromises that women must make, especially in terms of sex, as if it’s as simple as “she said yes but really meant no.” That’s an analysis that is wholly devoid of nuance and makes rape and coersion (things men do to women) things that women have to be responsible for.

  78. kathy a

    cass, i agree. i was using coersion in the “nagging” sense — obviously, something like a gun to the head or a threat of harm is legal coersion, and a crime. but if you say yes and mean no, giving in to nagging or its equivalent, that is not a crime.

    couldn’t agree more about date rape and domestic violence. DV is a huge topic in my house now, since a close relative recently escaped an abusive relationship, and it took a broken rib for her to leave. how someone could be choked and beaten and threatened and called vile names, and go back for more, is just beyond my emotional comprehension, although i know that isn’t so uncommon. she is out now, and her disgusting husband is facing 4 felonies.

  79. kathy a

    i sincerely apologize for using the term coersion in an offhand way. my comments meant to address things like shame or guilt or nagging, that might cause a woman to agree to sex she really didn’t want.

    my language was sloppy. coersion does imply threats or force, and my comments were meant for something different. i understand it is all on a scale, and do not mean to suggest that pressure is OK. but it is different from force or threats.

  80. Mandos

    That’s what I thought. In some of our dialects, coersion is a superset of threats of physical (or even economic, which is a form of physical anyway) harm.

  81. Dr.Sue

    There has been a lead weight in my stomach since I read Sassy’s survey. The eloquent responses over there brought back some miserable memories, and the knowledge that so many others have suffered and continue to suffer is depressing and enraging.

    I’ve also been depressed about what is happening here. Twisty asked a question–possibly with a great deal of irony, but some women took her question seriously and answered it by relating their own experiences. Now we’re all yelling at each other, and blaming each other. Smart, good women who are all on the same side.

    This is not a plea to make nice. These differences need to be aired. Just an observation that there is a lot of hurting going on, and it has felt to me that we are all bleeding and bruised. I don’t care which of you “agrees” with me, I’m not fighting you, my sisters.

  82. Adrienne

    Wow, the response to those of use who haven’t been harassed or guilt-tripped into sex has been eye opening to me. I don’t have some super secret sauce that makes me immune or some feminist V-8 that gives me protection. I have my experiences and that’s it. My sister had her first sexual experience on a dare at a high school party at 15. On a dare!! I couldn’t believe it when she told me. I’m not immune to that kind of coersion I’ve just never experienced it myself. I’m also not blind to the fears that rape has instilled in me even if I’ve never been raped. Even though that’s not what the initial post was about. When I’m walking outside I’m constantly looking all around me. I don’t take for granted just because I’m tall and fat someone’s not going to try something. I just know no one ever has. I’ve also never been married and never plan to be. Last time I dated a guy I was 23 (about, oh 10 years ago) and I don’t get out much. So, within my limited experience I have never been coerced. Hm, I’m going to ask my sister about her experiences. She interacts with people on a personal and professional basis much more than I do.

  83. iamnotanoctopus

    I’m that girl, too. I assume it’s because the men I’m actually attracted to are few and far between, and my two biggest turn-offs are pushiness and insincerity. I’m told that I just sort of drip uninterestedness most of the time.

  84. Cass

    “how someone could be choked and beaten and called vile names, and go back for more, is just beyond my comprehension, although i know it isn’t so uncommon.”

    Its understandable that this is beyond most people’s comprehension, and we could have a fascinating discussion on this sometime. For now, though, I’ll just say there’s lots of reasons why women make these choices, but none of them have to do with masochism. This was the predominant theory in the male-dominated field of psychology until very recently, and its only been overturned through the studies of feminist reseachers and those actually working with the victims themselves (hmmm… do you think they could have anything to contribute?). Aside from the disadvantage of being untrue, however, this old idea had an obvious ideological bent to it. One of the ways in which wife-beaters can seem a microcosm of the entire Patriarchy itself is that, in their own eyes, the woman is always to blame for whatever atrocities befall her… and of course, this applies in our society even more now for rape than for domestic violence. So, its no wonder so many of us have a special sensitivity around this…

  85. Annie

    And, excepting the most obvious point of reference (i.e. Le Patriarchy) I find it beyond comprehension that anyone still asks women why they stay. I mean, why should women have to make an accounting for bad patriarchal behavior. I remain digusted and befuddled by motive inquiries directed at those who have suffered at the hands of an abuser…Creepers!

  86. Cass

    Well, if these questions are asked of her in a judgemental or condemning way… no, that doesn’t do anyone any good. But I think society would be much better off around this issue if they understood more of how these situations look from the inside.

  87. Annie

    Sorry, Cass, and anyone else I may have inadvertantly irritated or offended today. As is obvious by my diarreah of the post condition, I am having my own little blaming fest here at home today. I’m just as pissed at the patriarchy as ever, but felt more like blabbing about it today. Peace to all.

  88. Gunnhildur

    When I was 13 there was a wave of sexual assaults in my school. There was a gang of boys two years older than I was that had been attacking my friends, and when one of them came for me – I fought back. Hard. I got a reputation for being a crazy bitch. I think it bought me some time.

  89. anty

    I didn’t mention this in my first post, but I’ve also been told by friends that I give off a “fuck you” look. I thought it was interesting that several of the other women brought it up, and I mention it now because while I think this might explain why I rarely get hit on, I don’t think it explains why I’ve never been pressured into having sex. It IS a numbers game, though. Frequent flyers are more likely to die in a plane crash and things like that. This is not at all an argument for women staying locked away at home or to imply it’s ever OK for a man to exert any sort of pressure on a woman or any other such bullshit, but it makes sense to me that those of us who haven’t dated a lot (for whatever reason) just haven’t encountered some of the more nasty dating experiences. Or some of the better ones, for that matter. It goes both ways.

    I also realize that all it takes is one date with one asshole. That’s why i said in my initial post that part of my own experience is due to luck. Whether or not I would’ve given in to the pressure in my teens or early 20s, I don’t know.

    I should note that all of the above is about situations where women are 100% free to walk away. I am not talking about situations where there are guns or drugs or brainwashing. “Coercion” was the wrong word to use in my first post. I agree that that’s rape, and that’s not what I understood the question to be about, so I apologize for not being clear.

    As for the WRAP IT UP sort of experience, I’ve never had that one either. There was a time in my life where I might’ve done that, but I was (again) lucky enough to just never end up in that situation. I’ve also always had a fairly high sex drive, so lack of interest hasn’t been a problem. But if that becomes a problem someday, I know I won’t be the WRAP IT UP woman. I’m comfortable with being alone, and any man I have to act for is not a man I want to be with.

    And finally, on the issue of giving in in general by wearing make-up or heels or whatever else, guilty as charged. I am self-conscious, I don’t like my body, I sometimes ask rather than assert – even when I know I’m right! – because I know it makes it easer for people to hear what I’m saying. I give in every day, it’s impossible not to.

    And now I’m wondering whether that’s what everyone wanted to hear. Does it make people feel better to know no one escapes?

  90. Ms Kate

    It is totally sad, but I believe one reason that I was never sexually harassed was because too many of the then-teen boys around me keenly remembered having me kick the shit out of them when I first moved to the area at age ten. They knew that I was more trouble than I was worth.

    I do remember backing out of situations where I didn’t feel right. Not that I was being coerced into anything in any of those situations – in fact, my companions took no for an answer without much further ado. I just wasn’t ready.

    I think I’ve been lucky, but I also was given a sense of how to avoid tricky situations by my grandmother and mother. My parents were very much sex-positive, so I knew I could satisfy myself.

    As for the “why do we talk about who has/hasn’t been attacked and why?”. I think the answer lies in knowing if there are things within our control that make such incursions less likely. Not that we should have to be a certain way, but because that is the reality of resisting patriarchy. Otherwise, the moralists sneak in and say “you didn’t follow that moral code blah blah”.

  91. Pony

    How many of you who replied in the negative or qualified your response are not white?

  92. Amanda Marcotte

    I’ve been raped, so I’m out as That Girl. That said, I’ve definitely found myself fucking someone and midway wondering, “How is it that I’m doing this? I don’t want to do this.” The sad thing is that the patriarchy, ingrained as it is, didn’t even require the guys in question to pressure me a lot. I had internalized the idea that I owed them sex.

    I’m doing better now. Thank you, patriarchy blamers. But I still have found it hard to terminate sexual relationships/encounters that I didn’t want but the guy did.

  93. Amanda Marcotte

    A random thought–how many of you have been fucked in your sleep by someone who was waiting until you fell asleep to do so? This has happened to a friends of mine, and it’s fucking bewildering to them, since it was with a guy that could probably get it from them consensually at another time. Its a sick, ugly truth, but there it is–some guys don’t want the consent.

  94. Pony

    Yes. And it was a guy who had a piece of paper on me. But the worst I’ve ever heard is up thread, with some poor woman regularly woken by her husband shoving his dick in her mouth.

  95. Thette

    While I’ve had to fight off groping (sometimes repeatedly, because the guy in question didn’t understand a no), I’ve never had sex when I didn’t want to, and I’m comfortable with stopping intercourse when it hurts or is unpleasant, and switching to masturbation.

    Luck? Hell yeah. And a sense of self that didn’t get destroyed by childhood abuse.

  96. vera

    Does it make people feel better to know no one escapes? (Anty)

    Let me answer a related question: Does it makes me feel worse to find that so many women think having a particular attitude, personality, or physique has protected them from harrassment?

    Yeah, it makes me feel worse, because believing it means not grasping a fundamental truth about the patriarchy: that it’s all about power, and being feisty or street smart or cautious or whatever might buy you better luck for a while, but it doesn’t change where you are in the power relationship.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’ve become to sensitive. Sometimes I feel like my blame barometer has gone off the scale. I’ve stopped trying to feel better. These days I’d settle for just not feeling worse.

  97. vera

    Sorry; that should be “too sensitive.” Sigh. Have I mentioned that I make my living as a writer?

  98. scratchy888

    [... A] fundamental truth about the patriarchy [is] that it’s all about power, and being feisty or street smart or cautious or whatever might buy you better luck for a while, but it doesn’t change where you are in the power relationship.

    Well this is so true! It’s the most succinct word on patriarchy in the whole thread, in my view. What it implies is that the structural dynamics of society on the macrological scale generally (although not absolutely always) trump individual qualities — even those which could and should be properly understood as “strength”.

    So, we need to understand that the properties of an individual do not determine their fate — not as often as the properties of society, at large, do.

    That being said, a “don’t fuck with me attitude” which can be backed up with one’s own physical and mental force if needs be, seems to work for me these days.

    Nobody’s ever given me a REALLY hard time physically, but when I was a naive migrant and shy, idealistic young woman, I was once mind-raped in the workplace I was in. The lesson I take from that — as well as from the aftermath when I was further punished for a situation I had not created — is that levels of Culture (morality, dignity, respect, reciprocation, intellectual and emotional discrimination within the milieu, etc.) in today’s societies are really much, much lower than we are always led to believe by most forms of political and social rhetoric.

    So, now I live as a wild animal — understanding the vicious reality of negligence and hate which underlies much of what passes for normal, everyday society. As my insights regarding this observation I make become stronger, so my expectations for cultural dignity within the general milieu drop — and continue to fall.

    And yet, my sense of health and social robustness continue to increase….

  99. Annie

    Well said, vera and Scratchy. It took us all a full day to properly assess the blame, but I think we’ve come around to the right conclusions…it is, as ever, the patriarchy that must always be blamed.

    I’ve sort of decided not to kick in with my own shitty personal tales of high order patriarchal abuse, but it’s worth mentioning (i think?)that I did suffer quite a bit of pressure and coersion from a woman I worked with…one who INSISTED that she was neither homosexual or bi-sexual, but simply (though, really…it’s NEVER simple) wanted an “affectionate” friendship with me. The strange thing was that I shut down my blaming mechanism around her, assumed that she was “safe” and even felt comfortable with her sexual ambiguity since I DETEST labels. She did, however, identify herself as a feminist, but even that kind of labeling seems problematic to me, as we could be here for weeks on end fighting over a unified definition, so I just kind of took that as something as ambiguous as her sexuality. But guess what? She turned out to be an enormous prick, not biologically, but in every other way. For a long time I dismissed her bad behavior as the result of sexual confusion or somesuch, but now I am not so sure, ya know? She’s co-opted all of the tools of the patriarchy in our situation, used them for her own very selfish purposes…shouldn’t I be pointing the long ugly finger of patriarchal blame in her direction? Just dunno. It’s kind of against my nature to think unkindly of card-carrying blamers (she is an avid blamer in some significant circles, but there’s a nagging sense that she deserves it. And yet, even as I type it, I can’t help thinking that THE patriarchy plays a role. Ya! I think vera and scratchy have it right. It’s the nasty little networks of patriarchal power that should ultimately be blamed, even if my former friend really is an asshole.

  100. Cass

    Annie: I do think women, and even some card-carrying feminists, can buy almost completely (if unconsciously) into the patriarchal worldview and act accordingly. And of course, all of us are products of this society and prey to the same kind of neurosis, by virtue of possessing a human brain, as anyone else on earth. So my own bias is that the second step in patriarchy-blaming (after getting some idea of what the beast looks like) should consist in getting in touch with your own inner patriarch, and bringing him up to your awareness. This has the double virtue of giving you some understanding of those poor souls, male and female, completely under the spell; more importantly, you learn how much of your rage and despair is based on battles you’re actually fighting inside yourself. In my case, I found that a lot of my rage against men and the big P was based on judgements I’d internalized from my family and society at large on my inferiority as a female. Once I brought those judgements up to the light and air, however, they melted away like vampires at dawn…

  101. winna

    I am not that girl, and among the women I’ve had the coversation with in real life I know no one who is.

    I have given up on intimate relationships.

    I don’t find that sad in the Patriarchy. I find it the only way I can survive.

  102. saltyC

    I always thought I gave off a “stay away” vibe too.
    But I found out it wasn’t true… it has more to do with status. Women of perceived high status, that is, have resources, friends, know how to speak, are less seen as easy targets if there’s a low status woman nearby. Just like a car that looks easier to steal will be targetted before one that looks hard to steal. Men are aware that they can get away with more from women with less recourse.

    To let you “I’m that girl” boasters know how you look from the other side: the night my (ex) boyfriend beat me to where my face was puffy and purple, then took me to thanksgiving dinner with his friends, his friend’s wife came to “comfort” me by saying how she was never beaten because no man would dare beat her. She says they know better, one time she was almost raped by three men and she ended up stabbing one of them with his own knife. This woman was skinnier than me, and I knew she was lying. My XBF weighs twice as much as I do, has massive arms and knows how to fight. Being “tough” with him, scaring him off, is utterly ridiculous. You can’t win a fight with a grizzly bear, you can only do what he wants and hope it ends soon.
    I have a cousin who is a prizefighter, she has a world ranking in her weight class. She is a brilliant boxer and teaches male boxers too. That didn’t stop her ex-fiance from beating her. Sorry if I’m a downer, women, but weight has a lot to do with it. PS now I know to stay away from grizzly bears.

  103. hedonistic

    I am not that girl. My date rape avoidance tactic: “I have to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”

  104. Arianna

    I wasn’t going to share this because I haven’t really told anyone the full story, and I don’t know how much of it is going to come out, but it really relates to the argument up thread regarding attitude/lack of dating as a protection against rape/abuse/sexual coercion.

    I managed to be “that girl” up until age 16. As far as I can see, I’d managed everything “right”. I was nerdy and shy and antisocial at the same time as being athletic and tough and “don’t fuck with me”. I never dated people at my school, mostly because by the time I grew out of being shy, I’d grown into being “one of the guys” and therefore undatable, not that I was interested, anyway. I was in Jiu Jitsu, and hung out with the other Jiu Jitsu kids. It was a small school, people knew who not to fuck with. I never drank, never went to parties. When I was 14, my mom first hauled my brother and I to Missouri to live with her boyfriend for the summer from our home in a small town in Canada. This was repeated every summer. I was lonely, trapped, and terrified of all these strange people. The second summer was when I met my Ex, a boy from Kansas a couple years older than me. Everything seemed great at first – he was nerdy and shy too, but hadn’t known me so long that I was “one of the guys”. He was respectful, sweet, and had a huge anime collection – a match made in heaven, it seemed to me at the time. We kept in touch over the ‘net for a year, and when I came back the next summer, I was 16-going-on-17 and wanting something more. I initiated our “first real kiss”, I initated the sexual contact, the fist time we “did it”. Little did I know, that in his fucked up Kansas Christian mindset, that if I was willing to have sex with him (and thereby no longer a virgin!) then I was willing to do *anything*. I probably wouldn’t have stood for the amount of physical, sexual and verbal abuse that followed if it weren’t for the fact I was trapped. I could either stay at his place with him and his dad or my Mom’s boyfriend’s, and my Mom’s boyfriend had all but kicked me out because I was a “northern bitch” (I believe I’d said something negative about walmart). I didn’t have a plane ticket home for months. The worst part is, through all the abuse during the time I was trapped there, I’d become so conditioned to “deserving” it, that I didn’t even phone him and break it off once I got back to Canada in September. We stayed in contact online an still considered ourselves a “couple” until the following February, and I probably still wouldn’t have broken it off if I hadn’t met my current partner (a lovely man from Scotland) over the internet that year. The experience left me with a total paranoia that I’m still living with now, years later, at 21. Even though my current partner is wonderful, I am still so filled with fear from my ex that every time I worry I’ve done something to piss my partner off I’m violently ill. He’s always there telling me nothing is wrong and holding my hair back while I vomit, but it doesn’t help. My Ex was so controlling that sometimes this terror grips me even over hte slightest things, like going out with a friend or going to school. The only comfort I have is that he can’t find me – I’m thousands of miles away and have moved three times since I last spoke to him. I’m glad too, because when I dumped him he told me he was buying a gun. I’m sorry to say that I developed a virulient anti-americanism after that, rather than seeing the real culprit and developing a virulient anti-Patriarchism. Took me a couple years to see that.

    Anyway.. I guess the moral of this story is: Childhood abuse or not, tough or not, strong or not, shy or not, nerd or not, multiple partners or just one… You can’t escape the Patriarchy. All it takes is one asshole.

  105. Arianna

    Wow… that was really long. Appologies.

  106. Sibyl

    Just wanted to point out that a lot of us on the “that girl” side of things don’t have a lot of dating experience with men, so it’s partly luck and partly statistical probability. Which really sucks, since saying “well, don’t go on dates” is tending toward that whole “don’t drink, don’t wear skirts, don’t laugh, don’t leave the house ever” kind of advice — or “if women don’t want to have babies, they should keep their legs closed.” Sexual expression is part of who we are as human beings — but the more sexual we are as women, the more we risk winding up alone with the wrong man. I don’t really have a direction with this — I’m just pissed off because, you know, God forbid a woman should want to have sex with a man without a bunch of violent coercive bullshit. OH NO, NOT SEX WITH A MAN.

    The patriarchy’s attitudes toward sex really do run counter to the principles of natural selection at times, no? I’m hard-pressed to think of an attitude less conducive to the survival of the species than SEX IS ICKY AND GROSS.

    All things considered, it’s probably more dangerous to date men regularly than to walk around the city alone at night. The rapist-in-a-bush is a lot less common than the rapist-on-a-date.

  107. Pony

    You are all such amazing and wonderful people. Where’s the gratitude button. Oh well. My day has just begun. Might as well get a head start; hit it!

  108. Cass

    “A random thought- how many of you have been fucked in your sleep by someone who was waiting until you fell asleep to do so? This has happened to a couple of friends of mine, and its fucking bewildering to them, since it was with a guy that could probably get it from them consensually at another time. Its a sick, ugly truth, but there it is- some guys don’t want the consent.”

    Which is why feminists have said over and over again that rape isn’t about the sex, its about power and aggression. (No need to explain why these different things are confused in so many “normal” men’s fantasies) Taking away someone’s feeling of control over their own body is a large part of what torture is about, and its also exactly what the rapist is after. In other words, its about the hatred.

  109. Em

    Coming late to this blogversation, but not to the corrosive dynamics of sexual coercion and its profound connection to violence of various sorts. Like so many others here, yes, I have given in to coercion in various forms (especially when a young woman). And yes, like so many others, I too have as a result suffered the deep wounds of residual self-blame. In fact, I am the patriarchy-blamer I am today in large part because of my experience with what might be classified as fairly “low-level” sexual coercion: nothing I would classify as rape (although several close calls in college–in one case the police intervened, and in the other case, a roommate); no experience with familial or spousal abuse; yet nevertheless I participated in sexual acts at an age and in moments when I really did not want to.

    Self-inflicted blame in the aftermath of coercion is, in my experience, one of the most insidious elements of the patriarchal order (any survey stats on that?). It’s not enough for women to be coerced in various ways, no. For true insecurity and submission to the patriarchal order to be assured, women must then also then be made to internalize the feeling (and tragically, often through certain discourses intended in theory to empower women) that if such events occur, it is not primarily because they bear a relation to certain warps in the larger social fabric, but instead because they can be chalked up as some brand of personal failing: if only I had been Strong Enough, Big Enough, Brave Enough; if only I had possessed enough Inner Strength, Self Respect, Inner Enlightenment, Patriarchal Awareness; if only I had developed a Strong Enough Judo Kick, a Deeper Voice, a Loud Enough No. Or whatever. My personal (and perforce limited) experience echoes Pony’s comments above: such elements are not always enough to ward off overt violent acts. And I also wonder the extent to which they are always enough to guarantee a different outcome against coercion. But in any event, for me, direct experience with coercion brought me to patriarchy blaming.

  110. vera

    Arianna, no need to apologize. Writing is therapy. It’s good that you could write it all down. I too wonder if people really want to hear the terrible stories, and hesitate to even get started on mine. I’m afraid telling them makes me sound like I’m weak, or I complain too much, or I just need to get over it. I appreciate you sharing your story because it helps me give myself permission to share mine.

  111. Arianna

    Vera: Alot of the ladies up thread got the ball rolling, if they hadn’t started sharing, I wouldn’t have been able to either. I do feel alot better since I got that all out. There’s so much more.. but that’s what I could do for now. The rest should probably go on my own blog, anyway :)

    I hope you feel comfortable sharing your story – so many here have. No one here is going to think you’re complaining, or need to get over it.

  112. tish

    I have been blessed enough to not have to fuck anyone I didn’t want to, when I didn’t want to. That’s not to say that it hasn’t come close, and I have to admit that both times, if someone else hadn’t stepped in, it would’ve happened.

  113. Annie

    Good thing Twisty is on holiday from blaming, otherwise she might faint to see the masses blaming rambles we’ve put down here in response. Alas, our corporate distaste for the patriarchy, enduring and warming as it is, does make a girl want to just shut down the blame factory and just head off in the Airstream. Today I tried holding back the bile of my blame with grilled veggies and sharp cheese tucked sloppily and delightfully into fresh crusty bread from the Italian market around the corner, but seeing all that we’ve said, knowing (as I have known for a very long time) the quantum numbers of dark tales, (and the bad ‘tudes or appearances some have used to hold back the beast), I am sick inside…that roasted pepper/portabella shroom combo is just begging to lift-off and blast out in response…ya know? The f’n’ patriarchy sucks! A POX upon ‘em!

  114. witchy-woo

    Agreed, Annie.

    And I think Arianna summed up the whole, sorry mess with “All it takes is one asshole”.

  115. Joanna

    B Dagger Lee, thank you for the poem posted way upthread.

  116. anty

    Vera (#96), I do think it’s sad that women think having a particular attitude, personality, or physique has protected them from harrassment. Having the right/wrong attitude isn’t going to protect you from being raped, harrassed, insulted, whatever – that’s feminism 101 as far as I’m concerned and I’d rather not discuss it. For the record, what you wear is also not relevant.

    However, the responses I saw seemed hostile to the very idea that some women hadn’t had these particular negative experiences. Even now, in response 102, those of us who have been lucky enough to never encounter these situations are “boasters.” Way to put us in our place, I guess. Honestly, it’s just weird and hostile and almost resentful. I mean, the question was eventually made so general – from being the woman in the WRAP IT UP scenario to just being a woman who does things she doesn’t want to do because society expects her to – that no one could be That Girl. Why?

    Anyway, someone asked about race/ethnicity: I’m latina, first generation, but I’m also light skinned and from a middle class family, so I’ve benefitted from white privilege but am a cultural outsider on two counts. I can’t really relate to the experiences of women of color but I also can’t relate to the experiences of white women.

  117. Kate

    Thank you Annie when you asked, “Are there no women here whose up-bringing – the bit about being raised to be a wife and mother and other myths of the patriarchy – didn’t leave them unprepared for proper prick management?”

    I WAS that girl. Very, very shy and introverted, exposed to extreme upheavel when young, raised by two parents who were much more concerned with fighting with eachother or getting their PhD or law degree, or using the children to throw pain at eachother. I got caught in the middle.

    I can remember the very first time I received male attention, a man who was a summer school teacher, I was there in first grade. No mother in my life and a preoccupied father and of course, afraid of everything and everyone. He would hold me in his lap while he led class. How this man didn’t touch me sexually was I think because he never had the chance. When in high school he was on the news, a serial pedophile.

    As a girl, I always had boys who liked me and flirted with me even though I had no friends among the other girls. I was a loner. A lot of boys teased me too, some threw rocks at me, once a boy called me over (I was about eight or nine) to his yard when I was riding my bike. I walked over and he punched me square in the face. Another time I was walking in the woods (the same year) and some little boy-kid came out of no where and began pummelling me with a large stick, surprised and horrified I ran all the way to the house to escape him. I didn’t even know him.

    As I got older more boys paid attention to me and then men started paying attention to me. By the time I was 13 I was sexually active and looking for someone to give me the attention they kept promising me. I was teased and ridiculed by my friends for my passiveness among the boys, but no one ever really said to me, “You know, they don’t respect you, you have a right to say no.”

    Saying no at home was outlawed. It was defiance that would meet the back of my father’s hand on my face. To obey was my obligation. To resist was to ask for serious repercussions.

    My promiscuous behavior carried on until I married a man much older than I simply because I was still looking for attention and wanting to be cared for. It was only then that after much discussion on the issue and his frank, traditional views did I realize the damage that my upbringing had done.

    All through our marriage men pursued me. I was faithful but was constantly winked at, flirted with, propositioned, complimented on and on. Ironically, I have never felt that I was good looking at all. They just would not leave me alone. I had three kids, not because I wanted to have kids, no, not at all, but because pleasing ‘your man’ was a message that somehow morphed from my upbringing. The sex was boring and he fooled around all the time, but I tolerated it because I was never given permission NOT to.

    When I was divorced I had numerous male friends, I started to play the field like so many had done to me.

    Now I’ve gained weight, raised my children alone and have a whole different outlook. Men still bother me, not as much, but I still can’t believe they do. Like I emit pheromones or something. I just laugh them off and don’t give them a thought and they realize they will get nowhere with me.

    I do agree that a lot is attitude, but my friends, that attitude is LEARNED, we are not born with self esteem and the ability to assert ourselves, nurturing and stability bring that. It took a lot of pain and some help from others and the desire to learn to not bring up my daughters that way, to develop my sense of inner stability and strength.

    Those who are given that early in their lives are the fortunate ones. I however, do not think that it goes on enough to consider it the norm.

  118. scratchy888

    SALTYC said:

    I have a cousin who is a prizefighter, she has a world ranking in her weight class. She is a brilliant boxer and teaches male boxers too. That didn’t stop her ex-fiance from beating her. Sorry if I’m a downer, women, but weight has a lot to do with it.

    As a martial arts practioner, I tend to agree with this assessment concerning the importance of weight. Also, it seems more than incidental (doesn’t it?) that women under patriarchy are concerned with making themselves a lightweight and thin as possible…

    My suggestion is to train for suprise defensive techniques which rely on power as little as possible. If you are worried about might having to defend youself, you could develop a speciality in some relatively unknown art like Escrima. Practice using your sticks against vulnerable parts like the neck. Aim to hit hard and get away. A stick also looks like something innocuous, which you might just be using as a walking stick.

  119. octopod

    I’ve never fucked someone I didn’t want to fuck. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that I needed to pretend to show sexual interest in anyone. Reading these blogs makes me realise just how improbable that is.

    I’m really not sure why this is the case. When I asked her (after a night at a club when some creep trailed her all the way down the block when we left), a friend floated the theory that it’s because my habit of wearing a long cloak and top-hat in cold weather and generally behaving and dressing like a crazy-ass Victorian hippie makes me look both sexually ambiguous and marginally insane at the best of times, and thus (presumably) unpredictable.

    I don’t know if I believe this, though, ’cause I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting this works, beyond a couple of anecdotes. In fact, all the reliable (non-anecdotal) information I’ve heard tells me the exact opposite — and obviously that carries a hell of a lot more weight than the personal accounts of one confused nerd in a top hat.

    Also, due to personal aesthetic preference (might have something to do with feeling safer, but also probably with enjoying friendly bouts of wrestling) I’m not generally much attracted to people significantly larger than myself, and thus don’t get into intimate relationships with them. The comment about weight, upthread, probably applies here.

  120. hedonistic

    Does reading this thread make anyone else besides me feel like THIS?

  121. Annie

    yep…though maybe I am actually more in the realm of violently ill than thoroughly enraged. I think the patriarchy slapped the rage outta me some time ago

  122. Annie

    incidentally, if it seems more than a tad weird that i’ve pooped out about 9,000 posts in two days, that’s because i’m grieving. my grandmother was a closet blamer and she died about 2 weeks ago. Blogging and Blaming has become my preferred method of grief management the past few days. Just tell me to shut up any time, and I’m pretty good about stuffin’ a sock in my pie hole.

  123. Pony

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother Annie. I’ve learned a lot from all your thoughtful posts here this past several hours. I hope you’ll continue as long as you need to for your benefit, and long after for mine.

  124. saltyC

    Anty,

    I didn’t mean that anyone who “hasn’t had the experience” of being victimized by a male was boasting. I meant that to say out loud that the reason you weren’t was because you have the right attitude is boasting. I meant that those who were boasting are boasting, not just those who relate their lack of experience.

    Hope that clears it up.

  125. darkymac

    Just popped in to leave this link to plenty of words from an older public blamer and this one reporting the entry of RU486 into therapeutic work in Australia.
    It seems that the slime-job tried in the mainstream media recently was scraping the bottom of the barrel.
    And this at least, if not a leap forward in provision of wider access to abortion in Australia, is another tool in the bag needed to defend women’s health from its arch-enemy the Vatican and the arriviste US-style charismatic church woman-controllers in our Federal government.

    Women treated equally before the law and by legislators?
    It’s a snow job mes filles. Women have to be so un-acquiescent, and all the time.

  126. Sylvanite

    Horrible things can happen to even the best-prepared woman. I do, however, think that it’s very important for women to trust their instincts in a situation. Women, it seems to me, are trained from earliest childhood to doubt themselves, to doubt their feelings, to trust what they’ve been told by authorities above trusting their own feelings and experiences.

    When I was a freshman in college, I had an evening lab class. One evening, when the students were leaving the building, I noticed a guy hanging out by the door. He was young – probably a student, but he didn’t have a bookbag with him. All the other students headed north. I was the only student headed south. The guy started walking behind me. At first, I couldn’t really believe it, so I decided that I would take a really circuitous route to the Quad. Damned if he didn’t follow every twist and turn. Now, I weighed 95 pounds in college, so I suffered no illusions that I could take anyone on. I was starting to panic, as I thought of all the unpopulated area between the Quad and my dorm. Fortunately, the guy was trying to be casual-seeming and didn’t follow me too closely. When I entered the Quad, I took a quick look around to find a place to hide. I immediately dismissed ducking into a building, because I was fraid he’d see the door movement, and then I’d be trapped in a building where I knew many of the internal doors were locked. There was a vine-covered brick wallnext to the building, so I ducked behind that, and peered out between the vines (the brickwork was open, but the vines obscured the openings). Wouldn’t you know, but when the guy entered the Quad, he stopped and looked around like he was looking for somebody. He then shrugged to himself, turned, and started walking north! Yeesh!

    Was I lucky? Hell, yeah! I was lucky that I had a place to hide. I was lucky that he was obviously a rank amateur at following someone. What wasn’t luck was that I trusted myself when the situation smelled fishy. The patriarchy doesn’t want us to trust ourselves. It doesn’t want us to be able to extricate ourselves (like someone above said, to excuse ourselves to the bathroom to avoid a date-rape). Is it blaming the victim to point out that we need to be vigilant and trust ourselves? No – because vigilance and self-trust are not magic charms. Any number of things could have made my seeming near-miss into a really bad day -no place to hide, for instance. I would have been screwed. But if I had followed my patriarchal programming to a T, I wouldn’t have trusted my evaluation enough to even look for a hiding place. It’s not boasting to point out that if we trust our evaluations of situations, we may be able to avoid trouble, at least some of the time. Of course, this does all go back to don’t drink at parties, don’t go anywhere with strange men, etc. In other words, it just points out what we all know; women are not given the luxury of being able to go where we want, when we want, to let our hair down and relax whenever we want whithout fear of being harmed. Only men have this privilege, and it fucking sucks, doesn’t it?

  127. saltyC

    That was a very suspensful story, I was relieved at the ending.

    But also mad. You know colleg public safety departments don’t do much to protect women, and I have seen that they do everything to cover up the incidence of violence against women on campus, including turn away women who report rape. What’s the solution? Maybe women who go to college should be allowed to have a dog or a gun.

  128. darkymac

    The missing link from comment number 125

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1615183.htm

  129. Jezebella

    octopod: you, in the cloak and top-hat – does the alias Ironwolf Odinsson ring a bell? You sound very familiar.

    Jezebella, aka ***jezebel***

  130. Pony

    Thanks for these links darkymac. I gave a link to MacKinnon’s older works upthread.

    The morning after pill has been co-opted by the creeps here too. It’s an amazing drug. I propose all post-menopausal women get it at least once a month and hand out our stashes to sexually active younger women. In Canada, it varies slightly from province to province, but pharmacists are supposed to sell it on demand. I believe the OTC price is around $25-$50. However, the peurile bastards are making women fill out a sexual activity form when they can get away with it. The governtment of Ontario stopped that on the complaint of the Privacy Commissioner. Following that, the Canadian Medical Assoc Journal commissioned an article on the issue, sending 12 women out to see how they were raked by various pharmacies. When the pharmacy association heard what the CMAJ was doing, they complained to their handlers the Canadian Medical Assoc, who forced the editors to pull their punches on the Plan B article. The editor did, but wrote about THAT, and editorial integrity and autonomy. The proverbial hit the fan, the editorial board resigned, the editor resigned, interim editors resigned, and the CMAJ looks to crash. All over a woman’s right to choose. The NEJM has an article about it. If anyone’s interested I can paste it.

  131. saltyC

    The only reason plan B is banned is that women must be punished for sex, no doubt.

    And it must be available,

    BUT let’s not let facts get lost in defending women’s rights:

    It is not all that effective! I took it a few times and the last time it did not prevent pregnancy!!! So I had an abortion.

  132. saltyC

    I meant to say “let’s not overstate its effectiveness” instead of “It’s not that effective”

  133. Pony

    Yup. How to take it and what to expect from PLAN B:

    http://www.mckinley.uiuc.edu/Handouts/plan_b_contraception.html

    HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
    Plan B may reduce the risk of pregnancy by 95% when taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected intercourse and by 61% when taken between 48-72 hours. Recent research indicates that taking Plan B between 96 and 120 hours after unprotected intercourse continues to provide some protection against unwanted pregnancy. Plan B is not as effective as using consistent contraception with each act of intercourse and should not be considered a routine contraceptive method. Plan B is effective only for this particular act of intercourse and does not provide any protection against pregnancy as a result of previous acts of unprotected intercourse and will not provide any contraceptive protection during the remainder of this menstrual cycle. It is very important to use a consistent method of birth control for the remainder of this cycle.

  134. Annie

    Pony, et al who’ve been chatting up-thread about DV, coersion, sexism, and sexual abuse…

    As I sit here, quite light-headed from having just inhaled the fumes of foul chemical toxins requisite for bathroom cleaning, my mind drifted off once again to my grandmother. I remember that every so often she’d very off-handedly tell stories of how her older brothers used to beat the crap out of her and drag her home to wash her face if they caught her wearing lipstick. In Italian they’d call her a “putanna” i.e. a whore. What came at me like a ton of bricks as I held a washcloth over my nose and mouth to cut down on the fumes, was that I’d said yesterday that my grandmother was a “closet blamer.”

    In hindsight, it was quite a paradoxical legacy that she left my mother, aunt, cousins, and me. You can’t even begin to imagine the reverence my grandmother always had for her elder brothers, and for her father (from whom they most certainly must have learned their habits)even long after they were all dead. But in my mind now, as I “hear” her telling me that story, and how she was married at 16, I could just faint over the way she had to let her blaming out. I can hear the stiff upper lip bitterness in her voice that revealed her anger at having been a sort of hapless pawn of the patriarchy. —And the weird combo of respect, deference, and disgust that she always had for men! It seems now no wonder that every woman in my family married a weak man…one upon whom the women wait (dinners prepared, house cleaned, children well-mannered), but for whom they maintain a barely veiled festering green pussy loathing…even as they geniunely worry over whether said spouse could take care of himself in her absence. (Shitty sentence, sorry.) But you see where I’m going, right?

    I mean, I’ll bet I am not the only one who had that fucked up model of womanhood. I can’t help thinking that my girlfriend with the ex-husband “plagued” by midnight hard-ons, and the collection of us who have reported to various and sundry awfulness at the hands of the patriarchy, we have been affected down to the core of our blaming souls by this sort of funky shit that our foremothers couldn’t help passing down to us. Strange. Stranger,or perhaps not, my grandmother’s re-telling of her brother’s beatings (and other patriarchal nightmares)left me with that same twisted love, affection, reverence, respect for her brothers. I adored them. Suddenly I feel very, very sick…and I don’t think it’s the clorox cocktail. BLAME!!!

  135. thebewilderness

    A revolting development in my neck of the woods. Well, actually in the city to the north. Pharmanazis are refusing to fill scripts for antibiotics and other thing because they were written by doctors at clinics that perform abortion.
    Finally, the shit is going to hit the fan in a blue state where too many people think it can’t happen here.
    I’m outraged by the arrogance of the control freaks at the same time I hope this will wake a few people up.
    I so totally blame the patriarchy.

  136. Annie

    Well, that’s just absurd! Ya know, bewilderness, as someone who has always had an inner struggle between my very real belief that a woman MUST have dominion over her body, and my discomfort (though I hesitate to state it publically, especially here) with some aspects of abortion, even I can’t help rolling my eyes in what I wish was disbelief but is necessarily just dismay. Ya know, your post has made me realize something. What pisses me off MOST about the patriarchy (well, I dunno, maybe it’s not REALLY the most) is the utter stupidity of a move like the one you rightly describe as a revolting development. I mean, seriously, YUCK! Vomit, in fact. And that not just at the arrogance and threating nature of it, but of the outright idiocy! Shit! Someone really ought to pull the plug on this nation if that’s what we’ve come to as a “cure” (ironic pun most assuredly intended) for our social “ills.” BLAME! BLAME! BLAME! BLAME!

  137. Annie

    P.S. – I had an earlier post that seems to have been held in indefinite detention by Twisty’s robot (perhaps because it contained the word, “whore”). But y’all inspired one helluva revelation for me as I wade through the sludge that is my grief over losing my grandmother. Thanks, even though I am swaying violently between hurling and raging, to all up-thread who bandied about the DV/SV issues from Sassy’s survey and Twisty’s query. I feel like utter emotional crap, but I know that the dung heap I’m in is a necessary one in my career as an arch-blamer.

  138. thebewilderness

    Thanks for the link darkymac.
    I could only get about half way through the article by Stuart the patronizing asshole. OMG she interupted me and look she’s wearing designer duds and all these other feminists don’t like her. Blech

  139. Sylvanite

    SaltyC, it’s my most vivid memory of college. Much more drama than I like in my personal life.

    Annie is describing my one aunt and her husband. We all despise her husband and wish she’d divorced him, at least after he got in over his head with illegal gambling. It’s interesting how all these years, everyone in the family claims to hate him because he’s so much less intelligent than my aunt, but I think we really hate him because he treats her like crap even though without her his life would be horrible (possibly even forfeit, depending on what those loan sharks would have done to him). He has no capacity to even be grateful. Now I feel compelled to use an emoticon:(

  140. octopod

    Jezebel: Ironwolf Odinsson? Can’t say I’ve ever known a person of that name, and it’s not me either. Who is this person? (Now, if you’d said “Sylvia Reversion” or “Thibaut d’Azemar”…)

    And Sylvanite nails it exactly about the privilege to let one’s hair down. I’ve always resented, ever since I first heard of it, the fact that I’m expected *not* to have the privilege to go where I want, when I want, without fear — possibly because I wasn’t introduced too much to the idea of male privilege until I was already a remarkably intransigent preteen, and thus not inclined to believe it despite everything I was suddenly being told. Not only that, but I’m not keen on satisfying expectations anyhow. So, being a generally reckless and imprudent sort of person, I go where I want, when I want, without fear, and if something does happen to me that I can’t write off as noise, I’ll know the experiment has failed. If and when that happens, I’ll come here and report the failure.

    Holy crap, I hope that never happens. I have no idea what I’d do, really, then, because I don’t think I’d be able to constrain myself to behave in any sane manner.

  141. Kate

    YOu know, the dorm story reminds me of how I teach my daughters what I wasn’t taught; to protect themselves, often in ways that point up our oppression and also would be considered ‘ridiculous’ by the patriarchy.

    My daughter and I went on a camp/hike in the local state park. She was about fourteen at the time. We had with us fishing poles, backpacks and a along with the usual roughing it camping gear. I chose a small clear spot on the top of a large hill at the edge of the park. It was off a dirt road that I didn’t think was well traveled.

    It was getting to be dusk and she and I were collecting firewood to start a small cook fire.

    Suddenly, out of nowhere I heard the bass thumping of a car stereo. I stopped and listened and looked to the dirt road about 200 yards away. Our bright red tent was already up, but in case of rain, I had put our gear under a tarp under a tree so it was out of sight.

    I called my daughter over to me with the demanding voice of urgency. I could see the flash of headlights bouncing off the tops of the trees and the bass getting closer. “C’mon with me right now!” I told her emphatically.

    I immediately scurried with her behind me into the woods, found a small rain gully and crouched in, instructing her to do the same. I told her to keep her head low to the ground.

    We crouched there, breathing heavy, my heart thumping in my chest as a four wheel vehicle came bouncing up the road, night had almost completely fallen. The headlights and loud exhaust foretold of an SUV jacked up with huge tires; ala redneck boy.

    THe bass and the exhaust mixed into a loud cacaphony as we crouched, hopefully hidden in the trees. They turned off the road and toward the clearing where our site was. I looked and could see their headlights shining on our tent. No fire was there yet and no other signs of life were visible.

    The vehicle idled for a few moments while my mind ran a million scenarios of what I’ll have to do for defense if caught by a group of drunk twenty-somethings good ole boys.

    Then, the vehicle backed out and made its way further up the road. Once they had gone, we moved the tent further back to a more remote spot. Later, after we had gone into the tent to sleep, I heard the truck go back down the road without stopping.

    I didn’t sleep too well that night, but my daughter learned the importance of following instinct for preservation, something the patriarchy must rob of women to gain their compliance, as i tried to explain in my way too long previous post.

  142. Pony

    A frightening story Kate. Did you and your daughter go camping again?

    For me, the bush is salvation. That is where I fled as a child. Even now, I spend a lot of time there. I realize that’s kind of irrational. “They” could be there too, threaten me as they did you. But I am in a sanctuary, where I see and hear first. No wild animal terrifies me. It is in a house I am afraid.

    Not until a couple years ago could I sleep with my back to the bedroom door and without that door braced with heavy boards between it and my bed, and sleep with the lights off.

    All the stories we have put here: it is not right. And it is not rare.

  143. Annie

    I’m already awake and outta bed with a head racing from a pack of rotten thoughts, but geez, Kate, that tale is a friggin’ horror. I may never get back to sleep!

  144. Jezebella

    octopod – Ironwolf Odinsson was the BBS alias of a cloak-wearing, top-hat wearing, victorian-hippie-looking, sexually ambiguous person I knew in New Orleans in the early 90s. Your evil twin, perhaps?

  145. Kate

    Nope Pony, I never have gone camping again, that killed my desire for the ‘girl’s night out in the woods’ thing. I had considered the possibility of someone running across us while camping, but i didn’t think it would get that close. I still think of what would have happened if I had stayed out there and tried to be friendly. It could have been ugly.

    And I do love camping so! I haven’t found a man yet I’m interested in towing along and that kinda ruins it for the point I want so much to make for my daughters; that you don’t NEED a man with you everywhere you go.

    My girls have all gone camping on their own, with friends including guys.

    And I definately understand about the safety concerns at home. I live on a first floor and am constantly drawing the shades at night so as to not reveal my lone presence.

    I have an even scarier story I’ll share:

    THere was a brief period when the kids lived with their father and I was ‘sowing my oats’ as I hadn’t had the chance when younger. I was in my mid twenties. IN order to afford to help out with the financials for the kids, I took an apartment in a rough part of town.

    I had a friend who gave me an old shotgun, a double barrell .410. It was no good really as it had a bent firing pin and he didn’t know which one was bent. I was going to take it to a shop, but never got around to it.

    Anyway. My place was constantly getting broken into by some kids who lived upstairs and were horribly neglected. They would sit down at my table and eat my cereal, drink a beer, smoke a cig and use my phone. It was irritating, but I didn’t care much, I was usually never home and I had nothing of value for them to take.

    One night I came home late and the door going from the common hallway to the kitchen was kicked in. It had been locked with a deadbolt which was now rendered useless. I couldn’t understand why someone would enter so violently when usually my intruder came through a window in the kitchen. I didn’t think much of it, closed it, slept and went to work. THe next night I came home and had forgotten about the door as it was shut and I was a bit preoccupied with other things.

    My bedroom was directly off the kitchen, the entry in the direction of said kitchen door. I remember seeing the clock on my dresser read “11:45″ and I rolled over and began to sleep. I had no bed at the time, just a mattress and boxspring on the floor, the gun I had placed on the floor between the wall and the bed.

    I remember being awoke by a creaking sound in the kitchen. I rolled over and looked at the clock, it was about midnight. I heard another creak and looked across the room, through the doorway and into the dark kitchen. It was a full moon night and the light of the moon shone through the kitchen window, showing a silholette of a tall man approaching my room, his every step slow, calculated and quiet like a stalking cat.

    Deliberately and slowly I reached over the bed, grabbed the gun and pulled myself up to face this shadow. I put the gun butt to my shoulder, cradled the barrel in my left hand and placed my right on the trigger. All in slow motion mind you. I aimed the gun squarely at the individual and I remember wondering at what point I should say something, or that possibly just sitting there with all the assurance as if I were holding a bazooka would be enough.

    The person stopped cold in his tracks. I didn’t flinch, it was like a showdown. I sat there with the gun, not moving or saying a word. Silently and with the same deliberation, the intruder backed tracked into the kitchen and then quietly turned and exited my apartment.

    The whole night I didn’t even dare move from that bed. I did go to sleep, but honestly I don’t know how. So much for my big idea of living in the badlands to save a buck.

    Even telling the story now makes my heart race!

  146. Pony

    Kate you are one fine storyteller.

    And one brave woman. I’ll bet that guy has never done a bad wrong dudely thing in his life since. Why, he’s probably posting on some feminist board using the name Mandos er sumpin’.

  147. Pony

    Twisty what is that little “edit” thing I see beside my posts sometimes? And why are you taunting me with it? I know I should edit before I post, but I don’t have the software that allows that.

    What is it? Gimme.

  148. octopod

    Kate: Wow. That’s incredibly hardcore cinematic-type shit right there. I’ll bet that guy didn’t try similar shit anywhere for a good long time…or if he did, he cased the place for weapons beforehand…had he been hiding in your house the entire day, or what?

    Jezebel: Oh man, I have a doppelganger. That’s incredibly awesome. Bwahahaha! Thanks for telling me — I’ll keep an eye out.

  149. missginger

    Wow, Kate, that is completely scary! Did you tell your neighbors about it, or try to find out who the man might have been? I’m assuming that he came through your neighbors’ apartment to get to you, and would have known you lived alone because their kids were always in your place.

  150. Mandos

    OK, um, I’m rarely one to object to things said or posted about me (or I’d have left the readership of IBTP a long long time ago), but insinuating that I would do things like that crosses the line, Pony. Not that I can do anything about it.

    I’m not sure whether you were trying to provoke me or what you expected by saying that?

  151. Mandos

    Though I am so forgiving that my immediate thought after posting that objection is “Maybe I should give Pony the benefit of the doubt since it seems she wanted to edit that post right after she wrote it, or why else would she ask?”

    Nevertheless. Maybe people reveal themselves unguarded. It’s fascinating that “Mandos” and “putative rapist” are so closely associated in Pony’s mind. I’m willing to be elected Supreme Avatar of the patriarchy by certain parties here, but…

  152. Pony

    The inference was you as feminist, not rapist. Climb down.

  153. Cass

    No one here would imagine such an awful thing of you, brother Mandos. Are you capable, however, of breaking into people’s homes, smoking cigarettes and eating their Cheerios? We’ll all have to make our own individual judgements on that.

    Regarding your interest in the position of Supreme Avatar of the Patriarchy: it is true, as you may have heard, that the previous Avatar was pronounced dead over a hundred years ago. I regret to inform you, however, that a successor is not expected to be named.

  154. Mandos

    OK, well, maybe you’ll understand why it was too easy to read it that way. Even if I read it as Pony suggests…it does seem to suggest things about me. But nevertheless I’m willing to reread it with better intentions.

    As for the Supreme High Avatar of the Patiarchy, you are too late, Cass. thebewilderness appointed me as such several threads ago. Are you going to challenge thebewilderness?

  155. Cass

    a GIRL being invested with the power to appoint the Supreme Avatar?? I don’t think so…

  156. Mandos

    I’m sorry but these rules are suspended in the Twistyverse.

  157. dykotomy

    Hi Twisty – I must confess I copied, pasted and answered your question here and it’s only fair that I inform you of (and, more importantly, thank you for) it.

  158. dykotomy

    And, apparently, my HTML code does not work.

    It’s here: http://dykotomy.blogspot.com/2006/04/lovers-responsibilities.html

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