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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds prentiss facepalm

just give me your hand. your mother is drunk is all.*

And while we're on the subject of sexual violence, in re: Rape Culture. I explain--

...no, take too long. I sum up.

Look, if you're one of the people saying, "What a pity these boys were convicted of rape, because they had their whole lives ahead of them," you are part of the problem.

You may think what you're saying is "What a pity these boys committed rape, because they destroyed their own futures." But those are not the words coming out of your mouth.

Stop. Look. Listen. Look left, then right, then left again. Then think about what you are about to say or type.

But if you are one of the people saying, "Well, the victim had her whole life ahead of her too," you're also not saying what you think you're saying, and you're contributing to the problem and expressing an internalization of rape culture as well.

The victim--shall we call her a survivor, now?--still does have her whole life ahead of her.

Surviving sexual assault is not the end of a life. Rape culture includes this pervasive idea that the person who is raped is ruined forever, that "she'll never be the same," that she's soiled and broken.

Guess what? Hundreds and hundreds of rape survivors go on to lead productive, fulfilling lives! Yes, it's an act of violence. Yes, it's a trauma, and it should never happen to anyone, and surviving violence--sexual or otherwise--is not easy or clean.

But we need to get this fucking idea of a "fate worse than death" out of the language and the culture pronto, because it compounds the fucking damage when you tell somebody she's automatically damaged for life.

Comments screened, because I don't even.

*not the actual lyric. But close enough for my purposes today.


My actual thought in situations like this is: "What a pity it took the suffering of an innocent for society to realize that the proper place of these scum was prison, and to put them there. And what a pity they can't be put in prison for longer." If they hadn't wanted to spend years in prison, maybe they shouldn't have committed a serious crime?

As for the victim, yes, I think she'll come through and enjoy the rest of her life. Humans tend to recover from that which does not actually kill or severely maim them. As Iago the Parrot put it, "You'd be surprised what you can live through."
Long screed is long, but I will cut to the chase -- I really don't care about the rapists and what they've done to their lives. They did the crime, they need to pay for it, you know? And if that means they are in prison for a long time, or that they are felons and thus barred from certain things, well, gee, guess what? My heart certainly doesn't bleed for you.

And, speaking as an adult survivor, I don't know what my life might have been like if certain things hadn't happened. I only know that my life as it is is my life and that it's been good and bad and in-between. It's life, and that is all I can ask.
I had a period of great bitterness and anger, and grief for the person I could have been and the time I spent learning to deal while my friends were having careers and families and so on.

But grief is grief, and life is life, and I only get one, and I do not want to spend it all grieving.

So as you said, my life as it is is my life. I hear you.
I'm not sure I ever had the grief part, but I spent a long time after my mother died being angry that she'd never, well, you know... but on the other hand, I do accept that she did the best she could with the hand she had been given, and that things were different in the 1950s and 1960s, when I was little. I'm so glad that at least we can talk about these things now and that they aren't hidden behind doors of shame and self-blame (at least for some of us).
I hope I'm not spending my life in grief and anger. I don't think I am. I *do* stuff. Cool stuff. I've got great people around me and I'm pursuing my dreams and living a productive life to the best of my ability. But when it's just me and my thoughts, I'm still scarred. I'm still kind of broken and it's been thirty-four years and at this point I don't believe I'll ever *not* be broken. :-\

I get what you're saying. I get why the message that sexual assault leaves you damaged for life is a wrong message to send. But.

I hear you, brave sir.

I shall just share something that made me blink and tear up a little when I saw it:

Kintsugi is the art of repairing damaged or smashed pottery with lacquer and gold, rendering it as useful as before, and more beautiful.

That . . . is all kinds of awesome.

In the film "The Road Home" (1999), people in China used to repair their bowls when they get broken or damaged, rather than just throwing them away and getting new ones like we do nowadays.

There would be a community peddler/bowl-mender who makes the round repairing household items. They use a more crude and less aesthetically pleasing method than Kintsugi (which is an developed art form), but the purpose is to repair the bowl so that those who treasure it can use it again. It was a era when people still treated their belongings with respect and things were made meant to last. In the film, it was mentioned to be a dying trade due to introduction of consumerism and increasing affluence in China.
Thank you for telling me that.

I took a screenshot of the bowl in the film.
Almost the entire process of mending the bowl is shown in the film, if you are interested.
It is put together with nails made from thick wire and something wax-like to fill in chipped gaps.
A most useful and joyous concept in that image.
Gah. Thank you. That's been driving me crazy.

It's weird, because I think most people would agree that rape is worse than being mugged. (I'm honestly not sure by what metric you compare these things, and I thing the individual instances are far more important than some broad labels, but let's go with this.) And yet, you don't get all the weird fucking crap about muggings or similar crimes. If someone was passed out drunk, and someone else came, rifled through their pockets and took their wallet? It's a crime. None of this promising young men crap. It wouldn't occur to most people to mention that a mugger might otherwise be a promising young man because they're a mugger. Maybe we should worry about that. (And seriously, I have some questions about how our sex offender registration works.) But... gah!

And also none of this "OMG, the victim is scarred forever!" No, it's simple, a robbery occurred, no one asks if the passed out drunk person consented, and pretty much everyone agrees that something bad should happen to the person who committed the offence. And the victim probably had a lousy time, but, yeah. You go on.
And good on the girl's mom:

She added that the case "does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on."
good woman.
I consider myself blessed to have such wise people as yourselves on my flists. You frequently make me see things in a new light/from a new angle, and it is always to my gain.

Thank you all for sharing your insights and wisdom.
*hugs you*

Thank you.
Strictly speaking, anyone who isn't dead still has their whole life ahead of them. If everybody just ceased to exist when they did horrible things or had horrible things done unto them... I'm not sure there would be anybody left. (Of course, we don't really believe in rehabilitation in this country so I suppose most of us would prefer it if the rapists did cease to exist once they were convicted.)

But, yeah, putting the person who was raped in the same category of damaged as the rapists... Not an improvement.
Well, the remainder of my whole life ahead of me. At 58, I figure that's likely to be less than half. It is of course the entirety of my remaining life, however long that turns out to be. But having a long trail behind really does change how the path into the future looks.
When I was younger, I didn't really expect to make it past nineteen. :) But here I am, long past it.

And if I live to be 104 like my great uncle did, I've still got rather a lot of time ahead to fill with living.

It's all relative.

(Of course, if I had a better memory, I might be more impressed with the time passed than the time ahead. Heh.)
You are on fucking point, as always. Thank you.
Your summing up provides nicely succinct responses to the bad messages flying around about this.

You're precisely right -- the viewpoint where those poor boys had their entire lives ahead of them when they suddenly got blindsided by this random event is a big part of the problem.
I keep thinking about making a post called "(X) things I never again want to hear in a discussion of rape." I keep hesitating because several of the things are tricky or nuanced. (Or should be, but usually aren't and therein lies the problem).

"Rape is worse than death", however, is on the list. Twice over. Because of what you said above mostly, but also because the people I've seen assert "I know rape is horrible, worse than death" explicitly usually continue with the word "but" and follow it with FAIL.

but as for the rapists having their whole lives ahead of them if only ... I don't even. Just no.
Yeah. This.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have said this a million times. God. Thank you. <3
Thank you.
"If you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action." OWTTE (I'm quoting Cordelia Vorkosigan, sort of ). If they hadn't wanted to ruin their lives, then perhaps they should have realized what getting convicted of committing rape does.

I hope that young woman lives a long, productive, and happy life. Living well is the best revenge, after all. OWTTE, again.
yes, yes, YES - THIS!
(I was going with a robbery metaphor as tylik did above. Since tylik said it so well, I'll just sum up a bit and expand a little with my thoughts.)

Someone breaking into your home is traumatizing and horrifying. Your space, your safe place, isn't safe anymore. But you buy new stuff and fix the doors and windows. You install an alarm system and get a big damn dog. You take precautions and you don't forget and you are always a bit more alert than others who haven't experienced a break-in, but (hopefully) you go on with your life.

I think with rape, it's different in people's minds because it's your body that was broken into. It seems more...personal...more permanent because you can't put up stronger doors and slap on new paint. You can't move to a different house in a "safer" neighborhood.

I think some of the "her life is ruined...permanent damage" idea comes from that. Yes, I know the historical background of the idea, and yes, there are asshat victim-blamers, but most people I've met aren't like that. They feel genuine sympathy for the victim, but have no idea how to express it. I don't know, maybe that's just me? I'm trying to understand as well.

Rape feels intensely personal, or maybe it's more accurate to say it feels like it should/would be intensely personal? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't? I don't know as I've never experienced it. I do know that people who haven't lived through a violent act don't understand how if feels. Hell, living through something violent doesn't mean you understand it either. I gave birth three times and I don't fully understand everything I experienced.

No, rape isn't different from any other crime--at least it shouldn't be. It's traumatic, but you survive because that's what people do. You aren't broken. You are different because experiences change us, and violent experiences change us more.

As you wrote above, people aren't saying what they think they're saying and they need to understand that. I've never seen a discussion about the miscommunication around rape worded this clearly and we need more dialogues like this. Because I really think most people just don't understand the nuances and how what they are saying is wrong and hurtful to the victim and to society.
Ah, thanks for making that post and making that distinction. I've found myself thinking "That girl had her whole life ahead of her too, and no one is lamenting that!"
But what I really meant was, "That girl could have had a life where she didn't have to deal with the aftermath of having experienced such a traumatic thing". You're right, it's not the end of someone's life (which I should know myself by now). I'll definitely stop and think next time and see if what I'm saying is actually the same as what I'm trying to say...
YES. THIS. THANK YOU. This should be printed and superglued to several (many) people's foreheads until they GET IT. I have been reading so many posts and comments about this case in the past two days and just UGH.

I'm also struggling a bit on how to express sympathy with the victim and express the fact that the trauma she experienced influenced the girl's life in more significant manner than the verdict and sentence will "ruin" the rapists' lives. Because some people are also missing this, although i feel it's so goddamn obvious.

Do you mind if I share this elsewhere? (read: everywhere)
I forget where it's posted--if you search you'll find it--but she has asked that if people want to do something for her they could send donations to the YWCA in Wheeling, WV, which has a shelter for battered women. That's what I did.
Thank you so much for this. I'll be honest- getting over the cultural mandate that I was always going to be broken took me a lot longer to deal with than the rape did.Feeling like I had to appologise, or disclose to people this dark part of my past made it more difficult to just get on with having a good life.
I hear you.

You know, of course, that you belong to nobody but yourself, and you have nothing to apologize for.
I do know that, finally.

Being raised in a strictly religious household with many of the negatives that those can contain - and mine did - there was that whole "purity" concept. Yeah... I did eventaully reject that viewpoint outright. Refused to play the Madonna/whore game. And then stopped feeling like appologising for a lot of things...

Wholly belonging to myself has taken a lot more work - bit the result of the effort is worth every moment of hardship. My joy is hard won, and worth any struggle.
I hate whoever hurt my magnificent Bear. Hate whoever hurt all of you who survived and honor you for speaking. I hope this girl has women like you to talk to her. I hope the girl in Torrington CT has women like you.

Bear, may I re-post to my lj and FB? I am trying to draw strength for those who listen to me, and all I have is rage. If I require time to assemble positive things to say, what you say here is something they need to know.
Absolutely you may, dear heart.

The thing is, whatever sexual violence I've experienced (and of course there's some, and how terrifically pissing is it that being a woman means that for all of us of course there's some?), the thing that I am still struggling with and seeing a therapist at 41 is the non-sexual child abuse?

THAT did a number on me.

I hope all women--all people--who suffer have someone to stand up for them and show them that it is not the end of their life. And I love every person who has spoken out here and elsewhere to say so.

No silence and no shame.


(In a totally unrelated note, read BLOODHOUND last year and loved it and cannot wait to get to MASTIFF. You do good, ma'am.)
Thank you for the compliment--coming from you, it's fuel to keep me warm for the week!

I didn't have anyone to tell me it wasn't the end of my life. Every time I felt myself flagging and losing my will to struggle and succeed, I remembered my mother, and it was like the sting of the lash driving me on. I was damned well determined to survive her abuse, though I thought of it in terms of not letting her win. My next oldest sister, who was battered as well as emotionally abused, felt the same. We supported each other, telling each other we were going to survive our mother and make good lives for ourselves.

It's funny. I still hate to talk about being abused. (I stopped writing for five years after a fight with my mother.) But I do it at appearances when asked, because I know it's important to some of those in the audience. So definitely, no silence and no shame.
Amen! Thank you so much for putting this into words so succinctly. It frustrates me to no end when people act like someone has died because they've gone through this kind of trauma. And yes, in some ways, the life they might have lived has died -- but that's true for all events which change us: they 'kill' the life we might have had.

And yes, I think the non-sexual abuse can be just as challenging to live with...one of my dearest friends is still working on that. It damaged her view of herself (constantly being told she was worthless and stupid and ugly).
Thank you for this. Yes, we all live lives, maybe different ones, maybe ones with a bit more hurt, but that doesn't mean we no longer have lives.

I definitely hate the "fate worse than death" comment, that does make it so much harder to actually get on with living. A crime like this isn't possible to make reparations for, but that doesn't mean that the survivor won't carry on living and be able to live a good life.

Note: came from tammypierce's journal.
I actually watched that CNN video - the apologist one - and honestly, it was all I could do not to gag. Those "spologies" offered in court by the two young men whose lives are "now over"? is it just me who cannot see an ounce of sincerity in either one of them? The first dude said his screed, woodenly, like lines he had had to learn (badly) for a shcool play - and the business of "the photos should never have been sent around..." which comes BEFORE the idea of that they should not have been taken at all, it's just backwards. And it tells me he isn't sorry at all about taking the pictures. He's just sorry as all getgo that he was dumb enough to brag about them and well here we all are now aren't we. As for the second dude, the one who breaks into anguished sobs over his "sorry" (and somewhere in there comes up with "I never meant to..." - and just what DID you mean to, while you were doing what you were doing, then...?) and then gets *comforted and "there,there, there" patted on the back by that court official standing there, well, I just don't know.

It isn't enough that they're sorry they got caught, which is apparently what it boils down to. Their lives WERE NOT TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM BY SOMEONE ELSE. They did the taking, by what they did. The only people in that scenario who had a choice about what happened CHOSE to do what they did. All the sorry in the world doesn't fix that.

I'm still mad.

And thank you for writing this. Bear. Seriously. Thank you.
Thank you for your words.

I wish I had someone to say these words to me each time it happened.
As a survivor, I struggle on a daily basis to get through and move on.
Most of the time, I feel like a child trapped in an adult's body, physically aging but not growing as a person.
Your words has given me a hand up from the deep hole I've dug myself into.
Too many emotions and not eloquent at expressing what I feel now.

I would like to share something with everyone who is reading this.
I recently saw a film called "Dolphin Boy" (2011) about a teenager who was kidnapped and assaulted by a group of "male relatives" over an innocent text message to a female classmate.

Here's a synopsis of the documentary:

"Morad,a teenager from an Arab village in the north of Israel, disconnects himself from humans after experiencing a violent attack. As a last resort before hospitalisation in a mental institution, he is taken by his devoted father to be treated with the dolphins in Eilat. Morad starts speaking again after months of silence, but he erases his past and refuses to go home to his waiting mother. Filmed over 4 years, this documentary traces the devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul and the healing powers of nature and love."

In the film, when Morad first 'recovers' from a catatonic state, he completely represses the life he had as a person before the assault, and identifies himself as a newborn with the dolphins as his family. It took him 4 years to reconnect his past and present identities before he could return to his village and family, and testify as a witness so that the people responsible could be charged and sentenced in court.
It is amazing to watch his story unfold. Though he says in the film that some good things have happened to him because of the attack, but it doesn't heal (he is still struggling with nightmares and flashbacks), his choices and actions are of someone who is continuing his life marathon.

Any act of violence or abuse or rape "kills" essential pieces of our soul and identity. It is good to share stories about survivors who have gotten up after the fall.

If you see a screening for this film, you might want go for it.

Late to the party, but yes, yes, yes!!