I completely lost control. I am not sure if it was because I needed a distraction, or that too many things had pushed me too far, but the other day, I started a two day Facebook argument about choice after I saw the illustration to the left appear on my FB thread.
Many of you might say, "you didn't start it, this picture did," and you might be right. But the other part of this was that this charming illustration was posted by a man who I know, and I knew at the time, would never ever change his mind. I know this because I know him well enough to know that his particular religious leaning precludes him from seeing women as anything other than reproduction machines.
But, this illustration infuriated me. I felt condescended to, I felt lectured, and more than that, I felt quite invisible. Our argument took us down the path of inconceivable truths; arguing choice with a person who sees you as a baby maker is the fastest way to get nowhere. He accused women of using abortion as a get out of jail free card, he asked me what the baby would say if I asked if it wanted to live, and for my part, I gave him quick synopsis of what it means to be a woman in the world. Other people chimed in, one man in particular even went so far as to threaten, believe it or not, another woman who was arguing the pro-choice point. I am pretty sure he addressed her as "girly." I mean, it got pretty heated. For two days. On Facebook.
And I could not stop. I was checking for his answers. I would become enraged when he clearly demonstrated that women were not anywhere near the top of his "list of worldly concerns." Then yesterday, at about 5 pm, I remembered why I started arguing in the first place, what I was hoping to accomplish, and instead of arguing my point, I told him that his post was mean. It was insulting, and it was condescending. I told him that I did not remember him that way, that I remembered him as a considerate and respectful person, and this illustration was neither. And that is when he apologized. Then, we wished each other well. And that was it.
I am not going to change minds. I am not trying to tell anyone to live a life any differently than the one they have chosen. I will not attack you for your religion, no matter what it is. I won't insult you to prove a point. In that same vein, I expect the same treatment. I really don't feel it necessary for anyone else to tell me about my body. I have no use for people, institutions, or governments which treat me like I cannot make a decision based on the breadth and depth of my life.
But it is hard not to argue. It is hard not to feel every moment of every day that I have to deliberate on what I have to do to be safe. It is challenging for me to forget that I have to consider physical threat in almost every decision I make about how I move through the world. My life is chock full of deliberations regarding the safety of my body and mind, and it is this way because generally speaking, men are a threat. Not all men; but statistically, there is more than a slim possibility that harm will come to me at the hands of a male human.
It is also difficult to argue. Difficult because rape is under reported. The statistics on rape are staggeringly incorrect. Why? because of the social stigma rape places on the victim. Because any time a man hurts a woman, the go to response is, what did she do wrong? Because many women are afraid to accuse because they know when they do, they are, at the least, immediately suspect, and at the most, in greater danger of further harm.
I have been sexually abused. Most of the women I know have, at one time or another, had an incident where they were assaulted, raped, or threatened by a man. This is not an exaggeration. This is a truth. This world does not value or protect women. We are targets, every one of us, all over the world.
This is why I argued. Instead of starting with telling my friend that this post was insulting and I believed he was better than that, I started with defense. I started with outrage. I started with the anger of a person who has had to strategically move through the world in order to be safe. I started with the profound sadness of a person who has listened to countless women tell me of their horrible and traumatic rape/abuse/exploitation.
I cannot, in good conscious, excuse it. Not after the pain I have felt and seen. It is hard for me to listen to you go on and on about the value of a human life after I have lived 46 years of not being valued. It is in every sense of the word, an outrage.
Politicians push cases of rape forward as a way to justify abortion, and while it is valid, it also feels hollow, because I should be able to make this very challenging decision about my life and my body even if I am not raped. The idea that people other than the mother think they can overrule her on this very important decision is in itself a violent and invasive act. Like rape, it is a product of the violent world we live in.
Pain begets pain. Violence begets violence. The point, finally, is not rape. It is not ending a life. The point is that we live in a world that is so broken that it believes collectively that violence is the answer to every big problem. All this, rape, abuse, legislating women's bodies, is a product of a mindset that does no one any favors. It is the mindset of anger, of thoughtlessness, of fear.
It is the mindset that forgets to ask, what are we doing to men, collectively, that pushes them to do such horrible things?
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"It is so nice to get a good morning text, you know? It is nice to get that from someone!" I am talking with a friend of mine who is happy that she has started dating someone who says hello in the morning via text. We talk about our shared experiences with this for a bit, though mine with morning texts are just a bit different.
As I explain to her what I do every morning with four or five people, she starts to laugh, and so do I. Every morning, I send out a naked picture to several special acquaintances, and then, get some form of gratitude back, ranging anywhere from, "nice one,: to lines about my sexual magnetism, my physical beauty, or what have you. It is wonderful to get that. I adore this morning ritual of mine.
I am aware that these sentiments are different than the sentiments from someone who, just out of thinking of you, or wanting you to know that you are being thought of, sends you a good morning text. This uninitiated form of affection is a wonder. When that one person you are thinking of, that one person who is special to you, lets you know that they are thinking of you too, it feels like magic.
But, I have set myself up. In my actions, I have requested note. I have beckoned attention. I have set it up so that I am guaranteed to receive some form of appreciation. Sometimes one or two of the men I send a picture to do not respond. Sometimes, I get a request to cease and desist. Sometimes, though rare, I don't have time to send one. But I want to make sure that the men I like know I am thinking about them, and frankly, I want them to think of me, though I know this is a relatively low stakes game.
There is a flip side to this which has become a bit of a growing concern for me over the last months, not because it is just now starting to trouble me, but because I have just become aware of it. Within this pre-arrangement, I have set it up so that I am requesting attention. Because I am requesting attention, I have come to rely upon it. I have set myself up for it.
In itself, there is nothing wrong with this scenario, unless you are a person, like me, who prefers to see herself as fiercely independent, needing no one, and asking nothing. As I said, I like to see myself that way. Unfortunately, this practice has led me to see that I am anything but. Well, maybe that is hyperbole. What strikes me is that against the backdrop of this low stakes game, my mood is sometimes quite affected by not getting a certain type of attention from one person in particular. And this DRIVES ME CRAZY. And the fact that it drives me crazy DRIVES ME CRAZY.
This is in stark contrast to my casual attitude with other of the people with whom I share intimacies. My fella is the center of my life and this sometimes bugs the shit out of me. It bothers me to no end that not getting attention from him when I want it bugs me. I want it to not matter. I want to not care. I want to be indifferent when he does not respond to my texts or my questions or statements. But I am helplessly dependent upon his approval and I fucking hate that.
I see that I have fooled myself into believing that I can have all these lovers and not need them...not really. They are a distraction for me for when that one person who matters does not pay me attention. Why do I do this? Because the flip side of all this is that I need my space. YES. It is true. I like having time to myself. If I don't have it, I am not kind. I am not compassionate. I am not, as they say, "my best self." So really, spending more time and energy with him would also drive me crazy. It would in fact, probably push me to crush him utterly. Not physically, of course; this is just metaphorical hyperbole. It turns out, to my great dismay, that I am not the kind of person who can actually get what I think that I want. I am the kind of person who cannot handle sharing the space required to receive the attention that space sharing would provide.
When I write my posts, I generally know where I am going. I generally have some type of answer or process that I demonstrate which helps me to deal with my specific form of freakish behavior. Well, I am at the edge of this particular cliff, and I am not sure if I want to jump. I am not sure if I want to back away from the edge. I am not sure, finally, if I want to stand on the cusp and breathe in the sweet air of freaky, letting it filter through my lungs and inform my blood and heart of their destiny. I am, in a word, paralyzed on the edge because who I want to be is fighting desperately with who I actually am, and it is driving me to do and say some pretty unnerving things.
I completely understand my predictament, I just have no idea how to handle it, so I will leave you with this quote from the movie Moonstruck, spoken by Ronny Cammareri to Loretta:
".........love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit!"
Yeah.....the storybooks are indeed bullshit...but I have known THAT for quite some time.
You know what would be FANTASTIC? If you shared this with any therapists or social workers or psychiatrists you might know who can help me with this. Or, just the general public. SOMEONE has to have the answer for me. SOMEONE must know how to help.
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