Okay, first thing’s first. I wrote a thing. It’s not an important thing or probably a very good thing, but it is grammatically-sound and from what I’ve seen of other horror writing contests, that counts for something.
Second, more importantly, my friend Alexa wrote a thing. I have probably a gazillion things to say about it, not just because of the subject matter and what it means to be the gender that has to care, like, infinitely more about the subject matter (because the other gender is taught not to care as much), but also because she is my friend, and I think this piece is so incredibly brave and scary and important and I am simultaneously saddened by it and so, so proud of her for writing it.
Want to know what’s really fucked up? That piece – or rather, the event that caused it – is what made us friends. Kind of. We’d seen one another on Twitter for a long time and I followed her, and when she named the person from the piece and posted the e-mail mentioned in it, I attempted to reach out to her via DM. But I couldn’t, because she didn’t follow me yet, and I went to sleep that night feeling sick for this person across the country who’d had to experience something so fucking horrifying. This is a person who didn’t really know me yet, but I so hoped she would follow me so I could talk to her. Which she eventually did, and we did, and now she’s the ringleader of the best group DM the world has ever seen because it is made up of this cabal of ultra-smart, hyper-talented women who talk a ton of shit and support each other and crack me up on a daily basis.
The thing about being in this DM group of women – in being in a group of any women, or even knowing women – is that statistically (well, statistically as reported, anyway), 1 in 6 of them have been raped or sexually assaulted. And again, as Alexa points out, rape is stomach-churningly underreported, so the real number is probably much higher. I’ve said before that, considering this statistic, I consider myself lucky to have never been sexually assaulted, but at the same time, I am aware of how fucked up of a concept “lucky” is here. I should not be “lucky.” I should not be an exception. I should not have to reflect on always having been able to provide consent and have that consent respected and, even knowing what I know, be fucking grateful to people for that. I shouldn’t be grateful. That should be the default. Always. Without fucking question.
It’s not just this one friend. It’s others on Twitter. It’s others on Facebook. It’s women I know in real life. Women who are living with this piece of themselves inside, who might have reported it but usually didn’t, because we live in a society where some women are “lucky” and others get to have their stories questioned and their characters assassinated and their bodies turned into crime scenes that the law rarely treats with respect. Women who have to just cover that piece up and keep moving and wonder if the person who hurt them did it before or will do it again. They might have to see that person’s face in public. Can you even imagine? I feel like my heart is going to drop out of my butt when I see someone who looks like an ex-boyfriend on the bus (my nearest ex-boyfriend lives 2,000 miles away); what would happen if that face belonged to the person who had raped me? And who knew they’d raped me, and knew they’d gotten away with it? And not just that person, but suggestions of them, or what happened that time (or times), or scenes in movies or plays or in books? Or fucking everything fucking everywhere?
Rape isn’t about sex. It’s about power and the egregious abuse of it, and retaining power over someone else long after the act is over. It’s about ignoring someone’s agency, not respecting their personhood or dignity, and bulldozing over the utterly and stupidly simple issue of consent because…why? I dunno, why is it harder to teach boys not to rape than it is to enforce puritanical dress codes on school-age girls or continue slut-shaming women? I can’t figure it out, either.