Friday, August 2, 2013

Prey About It - Again and Again and Again ...

Most of the men I know who read my blog, or at least these posts about what it is like to be a woman, have asked me what exactly triggered what essentially appears to them to be an outburst.  Triggered is an interesting word choice, given its increasing association with the post traumatic stimuli of violative assault (I repudiate the term "sexual" assault, as rape is not and never has been about SEX - which is a sacred and blessed part of our humanity), and - yes - there was an incident recently that got me thinking about just how little most men understand the experience of womanhood - and, sadly, of girlhood.

The trigger, for me, was not something to get upset about.

And, the more I have let it sit and the more I have thought about it, THAT is precisely what upsets me so much and has got me talking.  The fact that an incident of personal violation, because it's "just" verbal, is not "worth" getting upset about in our world.

If it were a man, or a boy, people would smack foreheads and freak out.  But the thought of a woman's being inappropriately approached, in public, is quite literally "nothing" to us.  To men, *and* to women.

Which is simply an outrage.

There are a lot of other things going on in the world, too, which are worthy - indeed, demand - upset.  The boys club of the Texas legislature.  The depravity and intimate brutality to which a woman must be subjected by strangers because she has the temerity to create a professional career in sex education (this link is the story of a woman first verbally assaulted with vulgarity and insuperable presumption by a stranger with sexual advice for her to take with her own husband, and it is perhaps the finest written piece of meticulously reasoned, and REASONABLE, outrage I've read in months).  And it's not all sensational stories about ass-grabbing, either.  Sometimes it's disguised in terms like "gravitas" as we dismiss the (imaginary - and faultily reasoned) specter of the "gender backed" "female dollar."

We live in an excessively screwed-up (terminology and entendres quite entirely intentional, yes) world, society, and culture, and the rapidly increasing control exerted by every aspect of it upon women is frightening and angering an awful lot of us.

But, yeah - I began talking, began my personal version of "activism" by airing out the things I have to say and participating, well, actively in this "conversation" because of those things - and because of the recent thing - which have happened to me.  These things MUST be exposed to the light of day.  The intrusive consequences of simply being a woman are immoral, and these things must be said.  Again and again and again.

I regret, to an extremely small and not particularly uncomfortable degree, minimizing what has triggered me most recently - and yet, I also feel that, as Jill McDevitt points out, there's an awful lot about the experience of my gender and my body which are flat-out nobody's business but my own.  I may privately backtrack somewhat and explain what I am discussing here, for those extremely few men whose concern I actually give a rat's behind about managing - because I care about them and The Unknown, particularly when so archly published on the internet (after discussions dismissively saying "nothing happened") is sort of a wench move.  It may lead to clinical and substantive conversations which aren't all about me, and for those men I care about who have daughters, it could be worthwhile to take the instructive posts I've already written and contextualize them in the current events of a woman they care for in return.

As for the rest of you - given the disturbing and intimate personal information I've already shared, I don't feel it's appropriate nor necessary to go on about more.  This doesn't bear further actual explanation, no matter how strongly I feel that "these things" need to be said again and again and again.  Please understand that no new sexual (again there's that inappropriate terminology) harassment at work has occurred.  That physically I am intact and untouched.  That, depressing as it is, "It's really no big deal" is all it deserves, in terms of public discourse.

That my privacy is as much my own as my body.

Sometimes, I look at the extent to which my parents emphasized for me my bodily and spiritual autonomy, beginning way back in the wee hours of the 1970s, is almost miraculous.  That is the people who raised me - human beings of such dignity.  Who put a premium on their children.  Whose ultimate goal, whether it was religion or politics or personal experience of violation, was to protect and preserve and always to VALUE their daughter.

My sense of self wasn't something they taught me with tedious explicitness, by rote, even by words.  It was their inimitable example.

I am incalculably grateful for their lesson.


Mojourner said...

I checked out the Krugman post. Do you think he had etymology on his mind when he dismissed "inflation hysterics?"

DLM said...

I thought EXACTLY the same thing - and lordy I hope so, because if not it was a gaffe.