Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Shark In My Brain

Well, I hate to make a sad update after gushing over awesome comic books, but Edith and I have been feeling kinda down lately about the state of the world. Recently in Salt Lake City a 5 year old girl who lived a few doors down from one of my friends was taken out of her own backyard and killed by her 20 year old next door neighbor. My friend and I went for a walk the night before they found her and looked at the shrine people have made for her in front of her house. Candles fill the walkway, stuffed animals and pink ribbons have been hung from the trees. I spend a lot of time in her neighborhood walking around and riding bikes and I won't stop because of this, but it's one more thing to add to the haunted corner of my mind where I keep all the cruelties toward women and girls that have struck close to home and that make me feel like I am never truly safe no matter where I am.

I went to school in a tiny, tiny town with a little over 9,000 people and even there a girl I knew was raped and brutally beaten by a gang of men when she was walking home one night. I walked by the place where it happened every day. I watched how hard it was for her to move afterwards in a huge cast and brace. Another girl I know passed out at a party only to wake up with her entire body completely covered in magic marker epithets of "slut," "whore," "cunt." None of her friends at the party did anything to help her. I think about one of the strongest, smartest, most capable women I know standing at the front of the room during a Take Back the Night rally quietly crying as she read us a poem about sexual assault. I think about the long list in my head that never stops growing.

And worse than the stories I've heard first hand are the whispers, the rumors, the gossip where all the details are shadowy. I find myself paying close attention to the people around me at every party, watching the other women to make sure they are ok, watching the men to make sure they keep their distance. I find myself doing everything I can to calm down when I am walking around alone and it is dark. If I sit on the steps of this church for a little while, maybe I won't get raped. If I dress a certain way, maybe I won't get raped. Yet, I realize that it is much easier, much more comfortable to imagine deranged villains who lurk behind dark corners and down alley ways. It is better to let my heart race and my muscles get all tense when I am walking to my car at night, than to let anxiety overtake me every time I go on a date, every time I am alone with a man I'm supposed to trust, every time I'm supposedly among "friends." But I know it can happen anywhere and that each person I meet has the potential to be tremendously cruel.

The heart of my fear rests with the knowledge of that universal potential and every time I hear a new story to add to my list I remember how much men hate women. It's not just a matter of misunderstanding us, ignoring us, mistreating us accidentally. There is a shining, bubbling kernel of real hatred for women underneath all the seemingly benign, everyday sexism that it's so easy to shrug off or explain away. We live in a system where women are not considered human and treated as such. I wonder about the men I am friends with. I wonder if they have a haunted corner in their minds as well. I wonder if there is a place where despite what they think on an intellectual level, despite whatever they say and do, there is a mounting pile of evidence telling them that women are worthless, disgusting, alien. How does a 20 year old boy kill a 5 year old girl? How does a "nice guy" rape someone he's supposed to love? How do we allow ourselves to give into the impulse to do cruelty on another? How do we resist?


Blogger witchy-woo said...

Shit, VV. You really hit the nail on the head with that one.

How do we resist? I'd like to say with humanity, compassion and love....but there ain't a whole lot of that going on in the face of patriarchal capitalism, is there?

So, maybe we do it with anger and protest and getting in their faces the whole time. I don't know.

All I know is I'm fed up with wondering about the men I know, too.

This is a brilliant post.

7:34 PM  
Blogger asdgasdfaserwe said...

How do we resist? Any way we can.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Manhater said...

How do we resist?

We castrate the fuckers. Men are animals, and should be treated as such.

12:35 PM  
Blogger sparkleMatrix said...

How do we resist? By banding together, in person, on the internet, on forums, activating, telling people, being fucking noisy...yes, sometimes I feel we are pissing in the wind. Call me an old hippy (and I will *nack ya) but we can divert energy and create a new thought form. Maybe not in our life time, but change IS possible, we have to hold on to that one

*Geordie NE England expression, which means severely injure you

4:36 PM  
Blogger alyx said...

Vicky and Edith--I'm so sorry about your friend's young neighbour. A five-year-old girl--the life snuffed out of her before it's even really begun. Shit. What a fucked-up planet we're living on.

((Hugs)) to you both.

1:25 AM  
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