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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


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.
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! If something makes you uncomfortable, say or do something. Reestablishing appropriate boundaries on a large social scale starts with each person saying, "you know, I'm not comfortable with this." Southern women in particular (from my experience) are really conditioned not to complain about the small stuff, not to refuse "help" from strangers even if we don't want it or feel uncomfortable, to smile and act like everything if fine even if we have the heebie-jeebies. We have culturally put the veneer of politeness ahead of an individual's safety.
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
We have culturally put the veneer of politeness ahead of an individual's safety.


We are taught not to make a scene -- in short, not to make others uncomfortable-- but not taught what to do when someone ELSE breaks that rule and makes US uncomfortable!

Rar, grr, bitey. (Sometimes, that's about as articulate as I can be when it comes to my personal feelings on these matters.)
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
Have you read The Gift of Fear? I love how the author talks about this at length and some of the solutions he offers for putting yourself and your comfort/safety ahead of dangerous social constructs.
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
I haven't read that yet, and really ought to. It's been discussed quite a bit among some of my friends, so I've become somewhat familiar with the ideas just from those discussions, but I should just sit down and read it for myself soon. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Aug. 5th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
OK, this makes me want to ramble off on one of my favorite "me" stories (I'm a Leo, we do this)...

Back in the Bronze Age (OK, the 1970s, it feels that long ago) as a freshman in college I took a women's self-defense course. One exercise had us lined up at one end of the gym. Volunteer trainers (martial artists with padding) were to jump us from behind and we were to scream at the top of our lungs, and break away and run as fast as we could to the other end of the gym, screaming all the time. I was puzzled but willing. On the first run-through I got jumped and did as instructed. About 3/4 of the way across the gym I noticed that there was no one running ahead or beside me and I was not a fast runner. I turned around and looked...everyone was still standing lined up on the mats staring at me. I looked back at them, looked at the instructor and commented rather uncertainly "You said I should scream..." Ummm, I'm rather good at screaming, it seems...of course having three brothers jumping you on a regular basis is good advance training. (Apparently my uncles had also trained my mom - years later a bank robber grabbed a deposit bag from her while she was in a teller line and my sweet, quiet little mother let out an outraged scream that echoed off the walls. She said she'd no idea she was going to do it, it just happened. Fortunately it wasn't armed robbery, just a grab-and-run.)

What was sad about the whole thing, was that they were surprised that I didn't need any practice. I remember being a bit shocked at how wimpy some of my classmates were at it. But having brothers and a feisty Irish heritage did help.
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
The forceful scream is a powerful thing. I know I'll be teaching ALL my kids (the boys and the girl) that one.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Heh. I did something similar - the "attacker" was supposed to try to grab me, and I was supposed to scream and run. Only I fell back on my 3 years of soccer and started kicking his shins.

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