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This made me shake badly, but it speaks the absolute truth about why women are completely hosed when it comes to dealing with and trying to avoid rape.  (Trigger warning, natch.)

This applies to "lesser" assaults - the kind women hear about every day, the kind that many people don't believe is that big a deal because they don't experience it themselves - as well.  Following the rules of "feminine" behaviour means we're attacked from both ends.  And why is it categorized as "not a big deal"? Because we're supposed to be nice, not make waves, not stir up shit, and be good little girls who don't cause a scene.

You know, if I'm going to be attacked either way, I would rather be attacked because I'm being "mean", rather than be blamed after I'm violated.  So I'm letting all of you know that I'm done being polite.  Next time a man demands my attention despite my clear disinterest, I'm going to ignore him.  If he pushes it, I'm going to tell him what I think.  If I'm a bitch for demanding equal consideration for my desires, then so be it.  I am old enough that I simply don't care what strangers think of me. 

The risk that all women face is that a man who is refused sometimes feels he has the right to force a woman to do what he wants.  If he gets violent, I have... options.  I'm not going into greater detail.

This applies to interactions in the SCA, too - anyone who touches me without my permission is going to get an earful.  Tell you what - if I'm at an event you're attending, and some man (or woman) won't leave you alone, or is making you uncomfortable, come to me, and I'll be your voice, your safe space, and the words you can't make yourself say because your training is too strong.  Like I said, I have options, and resources that you may not have.  I pledge to do my utmost to make you safe.

Because I'm done.  If you can't get someone to stop, I'll take care of it.  I can live with being called a bitch - I've been through much, much worse. 

No more Ms. Nice Laurel.

Some useful posts:
Rape Resistance, Not Rape Prevention (Hoyden About Town)
It's Not the Empty Street That Causes Rape (Hoyden About Town)

And, as an addition, here's something everyone should read:
Commentary from women about all the ways they curtail their lives just to feel safe (Shakesville)
And another: We live in a culture that condones abuse


( 47 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Aug. 5th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
I think the title says it all.
I agree. Completely. And I think you have a very good idea here.
Truly. I hope to meet you one day.
I have more I want to say... but I'm fumbling, so I'll leave it there.

Edited at 2009-08-05 12:49 pm (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you. For this offer, for consistently posting on this topic, for being such a strong voice of support, encouragement and even anger.
Aug. 5th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
I was going to ask if we could possibly establish a device or badge for acting as Safe People in this manner, but I am worried how this might be accomplished without the possibility of someone using it as a the worst form of disguise, to lure in someone.

Of course, getting a badge established for this express purpose officially would probably be impossible anyway - I doubt the SCA wants to take on those kind of heavy-duty liability concerns.

But there should be a way to do so un-officially. I don't know, but I suspect the Blue Feathers may not be quite so expressly official, and might serve as a pattern for consideration.

I'm certainly in support and would like to be in cahoots with you. I've had much experience and training to be this for others. I've been called aggressive, bitch, opinionated, unladylike, and just plain scary before - all for no more than insisting my no means no, really and truly, and if you don't accept that, I _will_ make sure you're not in a position to continue being such a dumbass about it. One way or another.
Aug. 5th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
(haven't read the linked posts) If you wanted something to ID yourself as safe, you could always just go with the established: http://backupproject.org/ Not remotely perioid, but...
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Aug. 5th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ziactrice - Aug. 5th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - thatpotteryguy - Aug. 5th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 5th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)

Starting with social situations and bleeding over into the workplace is probably how it will change, though. People are more able to change fast than institutions.
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(no subject) - virginiadear - Aug. 6th, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 5th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your posts of this nature. My husband is a police officer and martial arts instructor who teaches a women's safety course -- it starts with the prevention stuff, the listening to instinct and using your most assertive "NO, back the fuck off!" voice (which so many women have been conditioned not to use), but from that point on moves into the screaming, punching, kicking, and never surrendering without every ounce of fight. I'm glad to see that you're also here reminding women not to be meek and just prevent, but to be active and resist.
Aug. 5th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
And not just to resist when attacked, but to resist when "small" (hint: it's never small, but you knew that) stuff happens.

But when violence against women is explained away as "she asked for it", it's not us that needs to change, it's the whole damn rotten edifice of society that needs to be pulled down.
(no subject) - raving_liberal - Aug. 5th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - mstewart - Aug. 5th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your post. I used to fight SCA heavies many, many years ago, and I teach jujitsu. I'm also only 5 feet tall, and a woman. I've heard a lot of the taunts and "jokes" that you would expect.

I spent some time working with some folks who do a self defense system that is essentially what most people think of as "Model Mugging". I was working towards being a coach. It is my belief that every man and woman I know should take these courses. They aren't just for physical attacks, but delve deeply into the psychological aspects of dealing with assailants of any stripe, whether it be emotional, psychological, or physical. I was astounded by the strength that students found within themselves after doing this kind of work. Especially the women that were so entrenched in the "training" that you mention and that pervades our society. Breaking down those trained behaviors is one of the most important and difficult tasks for women, and men too.
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Great links. I love your posts on the subject and awareness you bring. (I hadn't even thought about the "invisible" rapist but it is so-o-o glaring now that it's been pointed out.) I'm definitely keeping an eye out at events for inappropriate behavior and am perfectly willing to be a "nasty bitch" if someone needs help. Heh.

And to add to the subject, I'm a night owl and I like to be out and about at all hours. When I was training for the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk it was during the Florida summer and the wee hours of the night were a cool and peaceful time to go walking. I love the night.

It absolutely outrages me that I have to consider the risk of sexual assault if I want to go out at an odd time. I still do because I refuse to let my life defined by fear. I'm more careful and alert, I do curtail where I go to some extent, dammit, and I do take precaution - and I absolutely hate that I feel I have to. I have had so many well-meaning people express concern and I can feel the social pressure to give in and live a nice, "safe" life. But life isn't safe, it's for living and I won't let the predators out there win. If enough of us live this way, we can take back our world.
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
*sigh* I think I just found another reason to be grateful for my crazy childhood. I just don't seem to have gotten the "normal" female socialization. (Not that this saved me from sexual abuse, it was just more subtle and insidious.) OTOH, my sister doesn't take any shit either, so maybe we're just a family of pushy bitches.

Reading the comments on how women curtail their lives...so many won't eat out alone because they get hit on and guys won't leave them alone. I used to eat out alone all the time though I can't afford it now. I was reasonably good looking and sometimes guys would try. Mostly I ignored 'em, and with ADD hyperfocus, I can REALLY ignore them. That usually worked. (Hey, without a formal introduction from a mutual acquaintance, they deserved the cut direct. I was not being rude, they were.) What I don't get emotionally is why after saying "Please go away." "Go away, right now." (No please if they persisted.)it wouldn't progress to "Excuse me, may I speak to the manager? This patron is bothering me and won't leave me alone." But then I never had any problem with making a scene either being a true drama queen. Guess I'll be making a few more if I see another women having this sort of problem.
Aug. 5th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
Another interesting take on that problem is that my wife and I often eat out together. Not being alone doesn't actually help all that much - two women seems to entice that kind of man even more than one a lot of the time. Suddenly, intimate details of our relationship are expected to be public knowledge, and people [read, men, mostly, although the women with them are often as bad for some reason] seem very offended when I tell them that it's a private evening out and none of their business. There is a reason we only eat at one place, where we know the staff and can make the 'help' face when someone does want to listen.

If you're not obviously in a man's possession, it just isn't worth going out a lot of the time.
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
I, too, am glad that I didn't receive that conditioning as a part of my upbringing. Rather, I was taught that in a situation that I couldn't get out of, rather than screaming or hollering Rape, two things that people often shy away from, it was drilled into me to yell Fire, because people will come running to that one.
Of course I'm a loud obnoxious opinionated bitch. I've also found that a pleasant "Hello" to everyone I pass on a late night sojourn startles even the most dangerous looking men.
If there are any rules that need to be broken, it's the ones you've linked to here.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
FYI, another good response to the Fugitivus post is at Shapely Prose - http://kateharding.net/2009/08/04/she-didn’t-fight-back-because-you-told-her-not-to/
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
So much I want to say, and so much I am not ready to talk about.

Before I married my husband I got real good at ignoring (ie: pretending to be completely oblivious) the flirting by men I wasn't attracted to. It felt much safer to be seen as ignorant as opposed to figuring out how to use my voice. I am still struggling to make people aware of the the No Touchie Zone. There are some well meaning but clueless men in my area that I don't care to be touched by even though I like them as friends. Not that I think they would ever hurt me, I just don't want to be touched.
Aug. 6th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
Your body is your own, and no-one may touch it without your permission. It is okay to say so - if they're your friends, they'll understand, even if they get on the "all about me" bus at first.

One of the problems we women have is that we're taught our bodies are public property - look at how pregnant women are pawed! - and we don't have the right to refuse the touch of someone else. Not in so many words, but social conditioning is very strong - children are made to kiss relatives, etc. This, combined with the expectation that a lot of men have that they should be allowed to touch what they want, makes it difficult initially to put your foot down.

It gets easier the more you practice it, though - and don't blame yourself for not speaking up. The rules say that women shouldn't be "mean", and refusing touch is seen as "mean", so it's conditioned out of us, and if we object, we're told that this is just the way things are, and if we want to be seen as nice girls, we won't make a fuss. This is how abuse is condoned - people would rather let someone be miserable than be confronted with the fact that someone they know is a creep.

Aug. 5th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
I always have a moment where I have to reexamine my level of damage every time I read one of your posts. :) I read all the comments where everyone is so good at not taking crap, are happy to scream or be the bitch, and I just feel so behind the curve. (Not in a bad way, I think it's good that I know my limits and constantly reevaluate my level of resistance so I am hopefully constantly challenging myself.) I know I am not abnormal in my inability to speak up even though I know intelectually that I have the right to make a scene, in situ I just loose the part of my brain that could speak up. (It's not that I am actively choosing to not speak up) Thanks for the links, I always enjoy the tips and the reminder I am not alone in my fear. You are so cool.
Aug. 6th, 2009 09:54 am (UTC)
My dear friend, you are not behind the curve in any way. You are not alone, and social conditioning is so strong in most of us - I was polite to a guy that kept following me around just a month ago! - that it is *super* hard to break out of it. Don't ever feel that you're failing, or that you're at fault for your reactions (or that you should be "better" at dealing with horrible things). Just know that you are not alone. :)
Aug. 6th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
This is why I have taken to removing myself whenever people start talking about what a fantastically safe place the SCA is for women because everyone's so CHIVALROUS and has weaponry to protect women from violent rapists. I have given up on trying to explain to more than one person at a time that the SCA flirtation culture is not fun for everyone, and can actually be actively harmful.

I'm more worried about the culture of flirt-whether-you-like-it-or-not, oh-lord-x-is-just-really-friendly-you-should-be-nicer-to-him, I-didn't-know-she-was-underage.

I wish there had been someone like you who I'd known back when I joined, although I was self-assured enough to tell people to to hell and lucky they didn't escalate. Not everyone is.
Aug. 6th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
I wasn't me when I joined, either. :) It took me a long time to understand that all the talk about courtesy is mostly just talk, and that the pattern of dealing with sexual predation is more like being in a family, since everyone knows everyone else - they don't want to know about it, and get angry at anyone who brings things to light and objects to them.

We need to become much less tolerant of sexual misbehaviour from the ground up, even if it makes us uncomfortable, and we need to have a zero tolerance policy when dealing with sexual predators. No-one has a right to be in the SCA, and what the hell kind of club are we when we can't guarantee the safety of our most vulnerable members?
(no subject) - holyschist - Aug. 7th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 6th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)

Thank you for this post. It's like having a mirror put in front of my face. I sometimes forget how conditioned I've been and then wonder why I get so frustrated/upset.

Edited at 2009-08-06 02:41 pm (UTC)
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