I was 14 years old, getting money out of an ATM, while two young men behind me heckled and made aggressive sexual comments. One then grabbed my ass because I was ignoring them.
I was 16, walking down a sidewalk, when a man approaching stopped and started slow clapping while I walked past.
I was 20, nearly run over, scrambling into a ditch, while walking down a street because the man driving by wanted a smile.
I have woken up (from sleep or from passing out drunk, there is no difference) to a man I did not know grabbing my body.
I have woken up to a man I did not know trying to stick his penis in my mouth.
I have felt uncomfortable in a room, alone, with a man, and listened to him tell me, with a laugh and a smile, “I’m not going to hurt you!”
I have shown up to a guitar lesson in high school and been immediately told by my male teacher that I was a very beautiful girl but he was 33 and married with two kids and he didn’t know what to do about it. I said nothing then. Soon after, that same teacher was asked to leave (not fired) for sexually assaulting another, younger student.
I have been with friends and family members who have been raped, assaulted, abused by men and have never said anything.
I have been with friends and family members who have been raped, assaulted, abused by men and have blamed themselves.
I have watched friends and family members stay in unhappy relationships because they did not feel they had the strength and support to leave or be independent of their male partner.
I have lost meaningful, positive friendships with men because they “wanted to be more.”
I have considered giving them “more” because I was afraid to lose their friendship.
I have been begged, guilt tripped, negatively reinforced into having sex.
I have used sex to hurt other men.
I have used sex to hurt myself.
I have used sex to heal myself.
I have bought into the belief that sex is a tool of power and manipulation.
I have bought into the belief that sex is meaningless.
I have been followed around bars, stalked repeatedly by strangers, by harmless guys, by friends.
I have been called a bitch for protecting myself.
I have been called a bitch for ignoring a man’s aggression toward me.
I have been called a bitch for calling out a man’s aggression toward me.
I have been paid and tipped based on my appearance, how much I flirt with a customer, whether I laugh or not at their sexually charged and degrading jokes (“it’s all just words, don’t be so sensitive”).
I have been made uncomfortable, enraged, or simply disappointed by words from men. When I have said something I have been laughed at, ridiculed, and shamed for “overreacting.”
I have been taught to be small, to be thin, to be fragile.
I have been taught to not get too heavy, not get too strong, not get too big.
I have been taught “how to lift weights without bulking up.”
I have been taught that “a man should always be taller and stronger and bigger than me.”
I can think back on how I was lucky enough to not be physically and forcefully raped.
One in four women cannot.
My own experience is certainly not an authority on women in America. I am extremely privileged. Extremely protected. Extremely naïve.
But I am not ignorant enough to believe that words don’t have power. Or that subtle actions and behaviors by men AND women haven’t compelled me to be afraid, to be weak, to not engage.
This is Rape Culture.
There’s a full moon a-coming. It’s practically already here, set to be in its fullness today by 3:57pst.
So what, right?
Go ahead and ignore it again if you like, I certainly have. Or pay attention to the free gift that you are receiving. Imagine a time when the only light we had in the darkness was from the moon. Remember that, in darkness, the light of the moon is seen. In our own dark times may we see the light of our truest selves shining brilliantly. Remind yourself of who you are, not in relation to others (your friends, your family) but in relation to the universe (the planets, the stars, that satellite that has reached Jupiter).
I’m taking this full moon as an opportunity to cleanse my mind and spirit. I’ve even suckered in a couple of friends to join me. If you’d like to join me too, here’s what we can do together from wherever you are:
July 4th celebrates the Roman day of Pax, goddess of peace. Many of us may be feeling the the irony of this in light of the gripping horrors we have experienced in our communities and plastered all over media outlets. We need to remember to speak of peace. We need to ask for peace, demand for peace, plea for peace, act for peace. I’m not saying that “thoughts and prayers” are as effective as political reform. But tonight is an opportunity for us as individuals to at least reset our minds on a path of peace that will influence our actions long after the ritual has ended.
Burn jasmine incense and light a blue candle. Say a few words, from a book or from within. “Sit quietly and visualize a blue cloud of healing and peace slowly covering the entire earth… Send out vibrations of love, understanding, cooperation, and peace. Don’t visualize how this is to come about, just that it will.”(Moon Magick)
Of course, a prayer or ritual is step one to creating peace. It is our responsibility to continue the efforts and physically manifest peace around us. Reach out to your community, donate to a worthy cause, help a friend or stranger in need, or even raise your voice on social media in the name of peace (as long as it truly is with peaceful intention and not masking anger and hate).
Go ahead, take a moment to check in and remind yourself that you are not alone. In this unexpected life, some things remain constant.
I’ll slip back in here like a creeper because this weekend’s music revelation is too important.
I hope/believe, after all of the “oh don’t you mess with this woman” and “did he really do it” and “who’s becky” comments, that people will move on to discuss how this work of art is and will remain powerful and important. That album is about so much more than infidelity. I’m so grateful to see women in power talking about things that too often get left in the dark.
A woman taking ownership of her experience is the most powerful act of rebellion. I am so in awe of people who are brave enough to see themselves as they truly are.
My favorite song on the album right now: Freedom
But you probably know that already.
Now comes the fun new task of making a house a home. All my money is going to home depot runs and paint samples and furniture and home improvement and, hopefully, art.
Here are a few 20×200 pieces that I’m drawn to, funny how they all share a common line.
Which ones do you like?
Time to get back to practicing…
I could listen to him sing this song forever and ever. happy monday.
I’m very much in love with this cover, performed by The Civil Wars. You can get the full version of the song on their album, Barton Hollow.