Posts from the ‘Articles’ Category

I have a slight confession…

========TRIGGER WARNING:  If you are a victim, you already know what this means.  This is my own story, and gets a bit explicit.  Be advised.========

I have a confession, something that most of you do not know about me.  You may have wondered why I am so vocal about victim’s rights, women’s rights, and other issues concerning women’s bodies and relationships.  Maybe you didn’t wonder at all, because it isn’t unusual for a woman to be concerned about those things.  But the thing is, it really does matter to me.  It matters because I am a victim.

I am a victim in more than one way, and by more than one person.  But today I will only tell you about one of them.  He had promised to love me, and yet he had no respect for me.  I did not realize this until it was too late.  But out of all the things he did, the emotional manipulation, the lies, what hurt the most was the one time that he raped me.

Rape.

Yes, I said it, that uncomfortable little word that everyone tries to avoid.  I hope it made you uncomfortable, because it should.  The very thought of rape should make you squirm.  I’m not going to tame my language by using phrases like “he forced/coerced” because they feel slightly more comfortable, not quite so taboo.  He doesn’t deserve that.  He deserves all the discomfort and disapproval you can muster, because he is a rapist.  He is a person willing to control another person by any and all means necessary.  He doesn’t deserve to have you wish that you could think less harshly of him.  He needs to know that what he did was not okay, that it was rape, and that I will not stay silent about it.  Not any more.

Some of you may question this… was she really raped?  What really happened?  I don’t care.  It took me a couple of years to admit to myself that it was rape, even though I was clearly demonstrating the emotional and mental symptoms of it.  I was willing to admit that it felt like rape to me, but was hesitant to label him a rapist.

So what actually happened?  Well, we were lying in bed together.  He put his arms around me and started kissing my neck.  I knew what he wanted, but I didn’t want to.  So I told him so.

“I’m not in the mood right now,” I said.
“I can get you in the mood…” he said.
“But I don’t feel well.”
“I can make you feel better.”
“I doubt that.  I feel nauseous.  Just leave me alone so I can get some rest.”
“Aww… but I’m really horny right now.”
“So go take care of yourself.  I’m not in the mood right now.”
“Please….”
“No.”
“But baby…”
“NO.”

He was still kissing my neck, running his hands over my body.  I really wasn’t feeling it.  I tried to roll away.  He grabbed my wrists and held me down, still kissing my neck.  I said no again, and tried to push him off of me.  He pushed me down harder, not enough to hurt me, but enough to let me know that he wasn’t going to let me go without a “fair chance” at turning me on.  I relented.  I let him kiss me for a bit and tried to get in to it.  It still wasn’t working.  I tried to tell him that it really, really wasn’t working.  I begged him to just let me up, but he refused because he said that I wasn’t trying.  At the time, I didn’t realize that that shouldn’t have mattered.  I wasn’t trying because I didn’t want to, and that should have been enough.  I guess, in a way, I believed him.  I wasn’t really trying to let him turn me on because I was afraid that sex would make my nausea worse and that I’d throw up.  So I sat there, trying to get turned on but still saying no, knowing that I couldn’t physically get him off of me and hoping that he’d eventually let me up if I said no enough times.

After about 20 minutes of this, I finally gave up.  I realized that he wasn’t going to leave me alone until I let him do what I wanted.  So I let him.

“Fine, go ahead,” I said.  Well, I may have given in, but I still wanted him to know that I was pissed about it.  I showed him further by just lying there during the sex, no emotion.  I checked out.  He got frustrated, that hadn’t been what he wanted.  Half way through, he gave up on trying to get me to enjoy it, and finally stopped.  It wasn’t over yet though.  He decided to masturbate, but stayed in the bed and used my body as a plaything to help him out.  (This was the first time he’d masturbated like that with me, but far from the last.)

I almost couldn’t believe that it had happened.  I didn’t know what to do or think.  I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t accept that it was rape, because I’d said yes.  Later on, another controlling fellow I had a relationship with tried to tell me that it wasn’t rape because could have yelled for help, and hoped that someone in the apartment next door had heard me.  I suppose I could have done that, but I didn’t think of it.  I honestly thought that if I just said no enough that he’d get it.  I thought that because I loved him, and he supposedly loved me, and people who love each other also respect each other, and don’t want to hurt each other.  So maybe saying yes wasn’t the absolute last resort, but by that point my will was already broken.  At that point, I wasn’t thinking about self-preservation exactly.  I had no fear that he would physically harm me.  I just wanted it over with so that I could get him to leave me alone.

I never pressed charges, but I did try to talk to him about it once, about a month later.  I asked him why he did it, and told him that I didn’t like it and that it felt like he’d forced me to have sex with him.  He said he didn’t remember it.  I continued to be used as an object during his masturbation, even though I hated that too.  I felt that couples who have a sexual relationship had an obligation to keep each other fulfilled, and if he “needed” my body during masturbation, then it was my duty to give it to him, even if it made me feel uncomfortable and dirty.

I didn’t think what he did was rape, even though I hated him for it.  I started to fight with him at every turn.  Any time he tried to tell me what I thought or how I felt, or insisted to other people that what I said–my own opinions–was not correct, I would argue with him.  I stood up for myself.  I checked out when we had sexual contact of any kind, and sex became less and less frequent until it was practically nonexistent.  Finally, I was willing to admit to myself that our relationship wasn’t working, and I broke things off.  But I still didn’t think it was rape because, at the end, I had said yes.

Later on, I would have relationships with others, but I was still afraid of failure.  I’m sure that’s not any different from anyone who has never been raped.  But worse than that was how it affected my sexual relationships with guys after that.  They just don’t get it.  Some of them accept it and work around it.  Few are truly good at connecting with me on a sexual level.  A few have been really terrible at it, afraid that they would somehow hurt me or something, or that they would accidentally force me to do something.  Those are the ones who leave everything up to me because they’re afraid that any advance they make would be misconstrued.  I really hate that, because it makes me feel like my rape was my fault, or at least that they think it was.  But then there are the ones who don’t let it phase them.  But if any of them tries to hold my hands above my head… I freak out.  I fight against them.  It feels just like it did when *he* did that to me.  Totally kills the mood.  On the other hand, their reactions to it are good indicators of their personality.  If they get pissed because I “ruined the mood”, that’s it.  Obviously, they aren’t very respectful either.  That hasn’t happened often.  Most of them get pissed.  They are angry that someone would do that to me.

I have accepted that my experience has changed me, and that my future experiences will be colored by those of the past.  I am lucky to still enjoy sex, to not be afraid of men, to know that the existence of one grievous offender does not mean that all of them are bad and will hurt me.  I am lucky to still feel that good men exist.  It is weird, though, that my experience has tainted more than just my sex life.  There are times when I hear a song that I like, and it makes me cry because he liked it too.  I’ve been known to avoid listening to music that I enjoy because he also liked it, and to hear it is to be reminded of him.  I feel angry and hateful because of what he did to me, and then I feel more angry because I can’t enjoy life the way I used to, because something will always be there to remind me of what he did.  I hate that I can barely go through life without a reminder, and that I never know just how strongly it will affect me this time.  Will it be a low boiling anger and hate–two emotions that I try to avoid anyway–or will it be an all out despair and sense of hopelessness?  Will I feel like a strong woman who can conquer her past and rise above, or like a weak woman who gave in when she should have stood up for herself?  Will I be grateful that I found my way out and that I am now free to make my own decisions, or will I doubt that I’m capable of making sound decisions?  And if I have a partner, will I be glad to have found someone better, who can truly respect me, or will I worry that I’m blinded and find myself unable to make an emotional connection?

I do often find myself questioning my ability to reason.  I find it hard to connect with people because of the fear of being wrong, and of being wronged again.  I need the utmost of respect from my partner–anything less isn’t good enough to quell the self-doubt.  I am almost certain that it will always be this way.  I suppose I will just have to learn to live with it.  I will need extra care from a devoted partner.  I only hope that I will be worthy of such a partner, that I can be equally devoted.  I hate knowing that anyone who deals with me will be walking through a potential minefield–that anything he says or does could be a trigger.  It makes me feel unstable, and I don’t like it a bit.  I like to live my life by reason, yet my ability to always be reasonable was stolen by unreasonable actions.

After reading this, you might still think that I wasn’t raped because I said yes.  I don’t care.  Rape or not, it still hurt.  The feelings of violation will never go away.  They have tainted my very being.  Rape or not, it was wrong.  No one should violate another person in this manner.  Think about that before you go defending my rapist.  At the end of this, I am just another statistic.  I am one of the 1 in 4 women in the US who have been sexually assaulted.  I am one of the 4 in 4 women in the US living in a culture that justifies rape in many forms because she “had it coming”.  But I will not be a woman who justifies rape in any form, and I will no longer be a victim who stays silenced.

Earthquakes

Japan has been hit with terrible tragedy from a massive earthquake.  It has caused a tsunami, and radiation from nuclear power plants.  Many people are displaced, injured, or dead.  It will surely affect their economy, and the global economy as well.  No one will be left untouched from this tragedy.

Yet, in America, we are also under threat of similar disaster.  We had the BP oil spill, an avoidable disaster, but devastating nonetheless.  But instead of pushing for cleaner fuel sources, we wagged our finger at BP and started consuming from other companies.  Chevron ruined parts of the rainforest–sometimes intentionally–and yet, a judge in New York decided to put a hold on the judgment by Ecuador, because he said such a judgment could “ruin Chevron’s reputation”.  No, really?  You think?  And elsewhere in the world, folks are using chemicals to drill for natural gas, claiming that it is perfectly safe.  The methods have never been tested.  Anytime anything has gone wrong–for example, contaminated drinking water, or earthquakes–it has been blamed on older wells and outdated methods.  Finally, they have moved to areas that have never been drilled, and the same thing is happening.  Finally, people affected by this are being taken seriously, if only by a few.

I have one friend from Arkansas who I am still in touch with. She has moved to Mobile, and works for Allstate catastrophe. Lately, on FB, she and her friends from AR have been talking about the earthquakes up there. (These started before the dead birds and fish, but haven’t had much news coverage since.) Apparently, the earthquakes seem to be caused by drilling for natural gas. And she said that Allstate has been training people to deal with an earthquake on the fault line, because they expect a major one to happen within the next 5 years. The question is, why is it that no one knows about this, except the “insiders”?  I would think that insurance companies would rather tell their customers about it, so they will be prepared, and the insurance companies won’t have to pay out as much…

Why is all of this going on behind the scenes?  Why is there no public outrage?  When we’ve got a huge natural catastrophe that just happened, it breaks our hearts, and we want to do everything we can to help those people.  Yet, we can’t even get support to prevent unnatural catastrophe from happening in our own back yard.  And, let’s face it… when it is in our country, people seek to blame, rather than be part of the solution.  I was appalled to hear people saying that New Orleans “deserved” what it got from Hurricane Katrina, because of its notoriety as a sinful city.  Well, y’all better save some of that blame for yourselves when the oil companies you worship ruin your land and water.  Of course, I’m sure our government will try to bail everyone out then, too.  And it will probably have a system of repayment just as crooked as the dealings with Chevron and BP too.

 

Chevron:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/18/us-chevron-ecuador-idUSTRE71H4R520110218?feedType=RSS
http://www.businessinsider.com/chevron-may-lose-27-billion-lawsuit-expects-to-pay-nothing-2009-7

Chemical drilling:
http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.introduction.php
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/29/natural-gas-drilling-80-c_n_629052.html
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=natural-gas-hydraulic-fracturing-chemicals-wastewater

Arkansas earthquakes:
http://www.wibw.com/nationalnews/headlines/Arkansas_Earthquakes_111815534.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/06/fracking-arkansas-earthquakes_n_831633.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110301/ap_on_re_us/us_arkansas_earthquakes

Religion = Peace…?

A boy once told me that “our religion” is about finding peace.  That didn’t make sense to me at that time, and it actually upset me a little bit.  Was I going about this whole religion thing wrong?  And who is he to tell me what my religion should mean to me?  I thought about it more and more, waiting for an answer to these and other questions that rose in my mind.

I suppose if you boil religion down to its lowest point, then maybe that’s true.  Ideally, your religion should help you make peace with the world.  What is religion, if not a tool for understanding how the world works and learning how to work with it?  But is that the same as finding peace?

For some, this is definitely true.  Some people follow religions that believe in having love and compassion for all people, forgiving and forgetting, trying to make the world a better place, helping the less fortunate, etc.  I would say that all of those help promote peace.  But does it always bring peace to the soul of the practitioner?

For others, they seek what best benefits themselves.  If you do only what seems right to you, or only what benefits you, regardless of the consequences to anyone else, does this bring peace?  What about atheists, who have only themselves to answer to, do they always have peace?

I think the question of the purpose of religion is much more complex than just finding peace.  I will follow my own religion or spirituality as I see fit.  Will it always bring me peace?  I doubt it.  I believe in doing right by the world, and other people living in it.  But there is not one set of right and wrong answers.  What is right for some will be wrong for others.  Because of this, there will always be conflict.  This conflict will exist in the world, and in my spirit.  I want to protect the environment, my children, my friends, my family.  Sometimes these will conflict with each other, and the result will not be inner peace.

Maybe the Zen Buddhists are right.  Maybe the only way to find true peace is to give up passion.  But to me, to give up passion is too much to bear.  I love the people in my life passionately.  I could not handle the distance from them that would be required to find “peace”.  For me, the conflict is true peace for me.

I may never know for sure what the boy meant with his words, but that’s fine with me.  Not all questions have answers, and sometimes our own answers are more important.

The BP Fiasco

Being a resident of Alabama, I have been following the BP oil spill in the gulf since the beginning.   It is an awful tragedy which is still unfolding.  But, as predicted, people have been reacting instead of acting.  Instead of thinking things through, and doing something useful and helpful, they are acting on their emotions.  It’s not their fault really, it’s the culture we have been raised in.  Governments have always and will always try to control their people in whatever way works for them, and they will say anything to justify it.  Is that wrong?  After all, the government’s job is to keep people in line.  Is it possible to control such a large and vastly different population without even a smidge of injustice or wrong-doing?

In the US, they have chosen to control us with fear.  This has been happening since at least 2001, with the 9/11 attacks.  Our government has continued this by adding WMD’s in Iraq to our list of fears, and then creating a terror alert system, and continuing a war “on terror”.  You can win a war with a country.  You might be able to win a war with a group.  But terror is an idea, one that can breed in many circles, and is bound to resurface.  The beauty of an idea is that, once shared with others, it can never truly die.  It will always be there for people to learn from or build on.  And so, by creating an unwinnable war, they have successfully created an environment of constant fear.  This is how we have been raised for the past 9 years.

By living in a constant state of fear, we are taught to react on instinct and emotion, without evaluating the facts.  The BP spill is no exception.  When we heard about it, we were outraged, and not without merit.  These people were killing our environment, and our livelihood.  And they were in no hurry to do anything about it.  So, if they aren’t going to do anything about it, what are we going to do?  Well, many people did think of what they could do to stop it–trying alternative methods for stopping it, donating hair and other things.  But the most popular idea was to boycott BP.  Now, that is the natural standby when a company won’t do what you want them to do, so it was the natural reaction when people are reacting immediately, on instinct and emotion.  It’s their fault and they better fix it, and quick.  But after taking the time to think, you may see the problems with this.

  1. Is it possible to stop the oil flow quickly?
  2. What needs to be done to stop the oil spill, quickly or not?
  3. How much does it cost to stop the spill?
  4. Where will the money come from?
  5. If BP is paying, where are they getting the money from?

Ay, there’s the rub.  We can reasonably assume that if BP is responsible for the spill, that they are also responsible for stopping it, cleaning it up, and more importantly, paying for it.  Those rotten bastards are going to pay, and we’re going to make sure they pay good, just like we did to Germany after the World War.  What’s that you say?  There were actually two World Wars?  And the second was started because Germany was too broke to pay up?  And they were broke because we got mad and kept them from doing pretty much anything that could reasonably help them make money to pay off their war debts?  And so, by trying to stop them from making a big mess of the world again, we actually contributed to a sense of fear and injustice in Germany which led their people to be desperate for a solution.  Now, I doubt that BP will go waging war to get funds to pay back all the reparations we expect from them.  They’ll probably just declare bankruptcy.  Oh, and just so y’all know, those CEOs from BP won’t be hurting for money if BP has to file bankruptcy.  They don’t own the company, and even if they did, BP is a large enough company that they are probably set up so that they can’t have their personal assets seized if the company has to file bankruptcy.  If they have to file bankruptcy, it will hurt alot of people, but it won’t change a thing in regards to the oil spill, and it won’t prevent future spills.

“But BP is the bad guy!”  A fallacy.  There is no good guy or bad guy.  There are only the guys in control, and the sheep that follow them.  We are taught to believe in good and evil, right and wrong, but most people never learn that these are social constructs, created by some of the people to control the other people.  BP is just the guy who screwed up.  How can BP make this right?  They have finally stopped the oil flow.  They have started clean up, but efforts are ongoing, and I’ve heard they’ve stopped cleanup in some areas that still need it.  I don’t know why that is, but maybe I’ll do some digging later to find out.  I can say that it’s possible that they just don’t care and have moved on.  But it’s also possible that they don’t have either the funds or the manpower to clean all the areas that need to be cleaned, and so they are prioritizing the worst areas, while leaving the other areas for a later time or for volunteers.  And then there’s this whole “claims czar” business.  Why did they choose the term “czar” instead of “manager” or something?  But that’s beside the point.  The point is, people have been hurt by the spill, and they expect to be paid for it.  They expect BP to pay for it.  BP has agreed to pay for it, or at least part of it.  Where is BP getting the money from?  Their sales and profits.  If BP’s sales decrease, then they can’t afford to pay as much.  Or, they have to cut employees.  Maybe both.  Either way, somebody’s getting screwed.

So, the CEOs still get their share of the money, while others further down the line lose their jobs.  Station owners are losing money because people don’t want to buy BP’s gas.  Never mind the fact that stations are usually independently owned, and that the owners have no control over BP’s decisions.  So now the station owners are thinking of switching to other fuel companies, to keep themselves in business.
[ http://blog.al.com/wire/2010/10/bp_stations_consider_other_bra.html ]

We’re forgetting something…. BP is not the only company with oil rigs in the gulf.  Besides, BP will probably sell their rigs either before or during bankruptcy.  So even if the BP rigs are actually different than other rigs (which I doubt), some other company is bound to acquire the BP rigs anyway.  Who said they could put all those rigs out there anyway?  We did.  We voted to have these, or we voted for a politician who voted for these.  Or we didn’t vote at all, allowing someone else’s opinions to be forced on us.  Only a few spoke out–not enough to keep it from happening.  We let it happen, or maybe we welcomed it with open arms.  We just can’t envision a world that doesn’t run on oil.  But that’s okay… we don’t have to figure out how a world without oil works, we just have to ask for one.  It’s up to our politicians to decide who will create our new world.  We are the tyrant whose demands must be met.  “But I thought the politicians were in control??”  No, they aren’t.  The politicians want one thing–your vote.  You can give it to them mindlessly, or you can make them work for it.  BP isn’t the only company hurting our environment.  They aren’t the first to have a major disaster, and they won’t be the last.  It’s time for a change–now.

Fight vs. Flight

Logically, people would assume that “fight vs. flight” is easy to understand. “Fight” means a confrontation, while “flight” means avoidance. I’ve been reading and thinking tonight, and I don’t think that’s true.

I’ve been told before that I’m the kind of person who lights up a room. People want to be around me. I’ve been wondering what it is about me that inspires that in people. Maybe it’s as simple as my smile. Maybe it’s because I know when to talk, and when to listen. Maybe it’s because I know how to watch people and know what they are feeling. Maybe it’s because they see me as a strong person, and they want a bit of that strength.

But I know that I’m not always strong. I’m human, like anyone else. I can bear a burden heavier than most, and I usually play the game of self-sacrifice, putting the needs of others before my own. But even I know my limits, and I know how to set up boundaries to keep people from taking too much.

Fight vs. Flight.

I prefer to avoid confrontation, but I will fight when needed. When that time comes, I am a force to be reckoned with. Still, avoiding confrontation has never felt like it was the same as running away. So, in the literal sense, if someone decided to pick a fight with you, got up in your face, and you turned and ran, that would definitely be flight. That’s not what I do. If someone, metaphorically, got up in my face, I would stand and face them, waiting for the first blow so I could launch my attack. Actually, that’s what I would do if that literally happened to me too. Back to metaphors… If I saw a situation that had the potential to become a confrontation, and took measures to avoid such a situation, is that the same as running away? I think not. In fact, I think it’s just another way to fight. You are taking active steps to avoid a negative situation. You are preparing yourself for any number of scenarios, and taking the best route possible.

I am a fighter. I have been to the brink of death and back, sometimes without a single helping hand. Taking a helping hand is not the same as being weak. Asking for a helping hand means you know your limits, and you know what you need, and when to ask for it. Letting someone else share your burdens does not mean you are running away. Not asking for help doesn’t mean you are fighting.

Oh, and this little article, and the article it’s based on, helped to shape my thoughts:
http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/the-iron-mind/