Friday, April 11, 2008
Speaking of rape
Rape has been on my mind.

I was raped almost 20 years ago to this day. For the next 15 years, I said nothing. There was no evidence. There was nothing to do, I thought, than get over it. Move on. But every so often, it came screaming back to me, usually in the form of other women suffering.

This week, rape, in many of its forms has been all over the news.

This morning, the New York Times reports on girls being initiated into Central American gangs for protection from abusive households by rape. One girl reports that she was told that all she had to do was talk to the leader and he would induct her into the gang. "Before she knew what was happening, though, her new family members were disrobing and lining up to have sex with her."

The rapist and murderer of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach was finally found and arrested in Mexico last night.

After Lauterbach accused Cpl. Cesar Laurean of rape, it took the Corps 7 months to investigate. According to Rep. Michael Turner (R-NC), "The actions taken by the Marine Corps to protect Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach were totally inadequate."

Turner said he is reviewing the Marine Corps' response and sharing it with fellow lawmakers similarly concerned about the way the Marines handle allegations of rape.

Attorney Merle Wilberding, who represents the Lauterbach family, said Marine procedures seem to ignore the emotional trauma suffered by the victim. (my emphasis)

The charred remains of Lauterbach and her fetus were found buried in Laurean's backyard in North Carolina in January.

In Texas, 419 children were removed from a compound from which boys are expelled to make room for girls who become the wives of older men. It seems a number of the female children are pregnant. Meanwhile, the Associated Press is called out by Melissa McEwan (again) for calling it sex.

A second KBR employee (formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton) has come forward with allegations of being gang-raped in Iraq by soldiers and other contractors.

Unfortunately, despite having come forward, the perpetrators may never be prosecuted in criminal court because of Order 17, which states that U.S. defense contractors in Iraq cannot be prosecuted in the Iraqi criminal justice system. While they can technically be tried in U.S. Federal Court, the Justice Department has shown no interest in prosecuting the first case, which occurred in 2005.

According to the article in The Nation (April 3)

"Prosecutorial jurisdiction for crimes like the alleged rape of Jones is easily established under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act and the Patriot Act's special maritime and territorial jurisdiction provisions. But somebody has to want to prosecute the cases."
And apparently, nobody does.

Stephen Lewis, a man I believe is one of the greatest heroes of this generation, gave a speech in September about the "litany of horror" occurring specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where U.N. Emergency Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, characterized sexual violence against women as “almost unimaginable” adding that the intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world.

When I wrote the post on the t-shirt, I wasn't really thinking about responses, but rather about what I needed to say. I hadn't read any responses to any of the other posts around the 'sphere either. Later, I looked around at what people were saying. On one feminist website, I was a little surprised at some of the comments posted.

Yeah, I don't know if people would want to wear this t-shirt. Don't you want to forget that it happened?
Yes. But that ain't gonna happen.

I mean, let's say I saw you wearing that shirt, what am i supposed to do about it? Am I suppose to be like OMG You were RAPED? Please tell me all about it. Or am I supposed to be all OH NO You were raped? I am so sorry.
What are you supposed to do about it...?
Cuz that shirt is just flat out awkward. If I saw someone wearing that I would probably start sweating and wondering if I should look up or down or say something or give them a hug or a high five or start a converation or give them a 'knowing' nod....just too awkward lol.
Really - did you need to end with "lol"? I don't even have a response to this, but another person did.
You know what? I really couldn't care less if MY rape makes YOU feel awkward and uncomfortable. Know what's awkward and uncomfortable? BEING RAPED. So if I want to shout it from the rooftops, plaster it on billboards, or wear a t-shirt, I CAN and I WILL.
After reading all of those, I started to get worried. Do people think that I'm a "Debbie Downer"? Is my writing so depressing, so grim and out of touch that I should stop, but then I got such a lovely and honest response from Will Pillage for Yarn.
"I can't say that word because it is so loaded and charged and painful. I can't say it out loud. Or wear it out loud. I'm too ashamed." and that is a looong way from where I started the thought process and is probably a more honest place for me to be in.

I couldn't wear the shirt, but I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to have that conversation with myself and to read your thoughts and the thoughts of the women who posted comments here.

Thank you.

I know we don't want to talk about it. I know it's not fun. It doesn't amuse. It's depressing.

I don't care.

Labels: , ,

Stumble It!


9 Comments:

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Okay, Debbie. (I kid.)

So (mostly) men have perpetrated heinous crimes against (mostly) women for eons. No big news there. But what I like about this forum, about you bringing up subjects like HIV and AIDS and Rape and Eating Disorders and all sorts of things that people don't want to acknowledge, much less talk about, is you are putting it out there, and there *is* a converstion (of sorts) going. Sure, it's going to be awkward. People aren't going to know what to say. Hell, most of the time, I don't know what to say about some of your posts EVEN WHEN I AGREE WITH YOU. And I know you!

The positive result is that the secrets are coming out. Some folks will continue to deny such things exist (and resist modern ideas like electricity, automobiles and cell phones), some folks will read about this and think, "Huh. Okay. Whatevs.", and some people will be deeply affected by it, dealing with demons that they thought they buried all those years ago, and maybe even do something about it. Help a friend. Donate time to a shelter for abused children. Volunteer at Bet Tzedek. Rescue a dog.

Since I don't really believe in a supernatural/higher power, I HAVE to believe in the power of the goodness of the human spirit, and sometimes it takes just the right nudge to get it moving. The more nudging, the more moving, the more changes that can and will occur.

Keep nudging, Debbie.

Blogger Allison said...

And you shouldn't - it's your blog, your corner of the internets.

Regarding that shirt, I wouldn't really know what to do if I saw someone wearing that shirt. If I didn't know them, I would probably dodge them and feel weird. But I think that is the point. And so it would make me think.

If it was someone I knew, I would not ignore them, but in my typical style, I would address it, by simply saying, "so, tell me about your shirt."

Blogger Lynn said...

Faith, I couldn't get the Melissa McEwan link to work and I couldn't find it otherwise....

Blogger Faith said...

Lynn - I've updated the link. Thanks for the heads-up.

he wall of shame and silence shatters and it's a bit easier to see through to the other side...
i volunteer w/ the local sexual assault centre and i bring it up every chance i get... i let people know what i do and what horrible things are out there, and that i'm on the front lines fighting...
keep on doing what you want, and keep pushing comfort zones...
take care
indigo

damn computers...
the first part of my comment was that i agree w/ all the comments about it being awkward, but every time someone speaks out, the wall...

also, if i saw someone w/ that shirt, i'd totally try to strike up a conversation...

Blogger dale-harriet said...

We, here, are uncomfortable with all kinds of things: rape, abuse of women or children, animal cruelty - hell, DEATH! No one is going to have anything to do with a dead person, even notice that?. Keep talking, Faith. Eventually these issues will work out, but I'm not naive enough to think it might be in my lifetime.........

Blogger David said...

When I saw your t-shirt post, I must admit that my first thought was to do with how awkward it would be to see someone wearing it. But you know, damn right I should feel awkward, rape is happening and has happened on my watch, while I let societies rules of safe conduct bully me into participating in the conspiracy of silence.

My second thought was that I need a t-shirt that says something like "I know someone who was raped. Most likely you do too".

Because I do, multiple people, and that's not including you or any of the people I know who may have been raped but not told anyone.

Thanks for speaking up.

Blogger David said...

When I saw your t-shirt post, I must admit that my first thought was to do with how awkward it would be to see someone wearing it. But you know, damn right I should feel awkward, rape is happening and has happened on my watch, while I let societies rules of safe conduct bully me into participating in the conspiracy of silence.

My second thought was that I need a t-shirt that says something like "I know someone who was raped. Most likely you do too".

Because I do, multiple people, and that's not including you or any of the people I know who may have been raped but not told anyone.

Thanks for speaking up.

Post a Comment

<< Home