Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"I Love You" & Related Tactics of Desecration - A Public Service Announcement


Among you lurks something terrifying - designed from the core to take all that is inside of you and rip it to shreds. In the house across the street, the cafe around the corner, the dorm across the quad - it stirs in the sun and in the shadows, evaluating potential prey and waiting to bite. It can smell your vulnerability from miles away, like a trademark perfume, begging to lick it off of you and make it it's own under the guise of the smallest of friendly gestures. But you must not fall victim to it's sympathetic eyes and bashful grin - the hesitation behind it's smile is the only bloodthirsty tick it can't control. "I could be your friend," it will implore you, the first claw it will plant firmly beneath your skin. Your guard is up and your a year past beating yourself up for having turned into a stoic because it's so much easier to see yourself as a strong wall that can stand up against the sweetest of smooth talking minutemen than to crumble slowly with the realization that you may end up alone forever, like your mother and your best friend from high school who you disassociated from when you finally decided to make something out of your life. But this, this is even stronger than that. It can tear that wall of yours down with its bare hands, removing one small stone at a time, before you've noticed there's another claw digging in, firming its grip. You'll convince yourself that you deserve to let yourself go just this once. You can't go around with a stick up your ass forever. If you never try, how will you ever find the one? So you hand yourself over, minuscule  amounts at a time - but it will take a mile for every piece you offer as you extend your hand. The third claw is in and you're starting to have second thoughts. The things it tells you don't seem to fit with the reality its caused you to so eloquently dream. You try to think about it. You're overanalyzing, paranoid, you're becoming like you were before - you know, back when you fucked up everything else good in your life. "I can do this," you decide. But as you approach it, to tell it you're ready to show it everything - you look down and you finally realize....

....It's been stripping you naked all along.

Is this the way love feels?

Are you or someone you care about involved in a relationship that seems more like a soulless monster pursuing its prey than a loving partnership of light? You aren't alone. Abuse comes in all different shapes, sizes, and scenarios. No attack is too small, nor moment too fleeting, to be taken seriously as a threat to your personal wellbeing. No woman (or man) should ever have to feel like their skin isn't even enough to hide within. Romantic partners can seem like a miraculous twist of fate - but can just as quickly materialize beyond the fog of euphoria - only to be so despicable in reality that you're left feeling like you've just seen a record-setting mirage. Being lied to, manipulated, used, or PHYSICALLY HARMED are all reasons TOO MANY to get help. Your sisters are here for you; and we will help you rip every monstrous claw out, one fucking claw at a time.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cheer For Your Rapist, Dammit!

Considering the latest in lovely campus news, I've found myself particularly on alert for news involving sexual assault, harassment and rape, as well as attitudes toward the aforementioned atrocities. This afternoon, I came upon a San Francisco Gate article via Slutwalk Baltimore, which chronicled the plight of a Texas high-school cheerleader who refused to engage in a chant of her rapist's name at a Silsbee High basketball game. Four months prior to the game in question, the cheerleader (referred to by initials H.S.) proported that Silsbee's star athlete, Rakheem Bolton, had raped her while at a party in town. At the time, Rakheem pleaded guilty to the rape, receiving a "suspended sentence" on the misdemeanor assault charge.
The present issue revolves around the fact that H.S. was informed that she could either cheer for Bolton like the other girls or go home, at which point H.S. actively joined the team, but "folded her arms and was silent". H.S. and parents then did what I believe any soul-possessing human being would think to do in such a situation - sued the school district for violating her right to freedom of expression. Then, the unthinkable happened:
"An appeals court in New Orleans ruled against her, saying a cheerleader acts as a "mouthpiece" for the school. Federal courts have also ordered H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit."
What the HELL is going on in this country? As Baltimore Slutwalk comments on the travesty, "Rape someone? Be a star athlete. Refuse to cheer for your rapist? Get kicked off the team you worked so hard for. Priorities:  America has them."
Is this country really so morally barren that they demand a rape victim to publicly revere the man who violated her?

Prevailing Thought: Why the fuck was Mr. Bolton not banned from participating in athletics after committing a rape that the community was obviously well aware of? Where were the mothers of fellow athletes (and fellow cheerleaders, for the love of God!) not calling the school and raising holy hell about the fact that their children were interacting with this boy? If the courts had done their job, the dirtbag wouldn't be one-upping his victim in front of the entire student body - he'd been rotting behind bars.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Eye Opener - Sexual Assault Hits Home

Today marks the beginning of a sad week in McDaniel College's neck of the woods. Yesterday morning I woke from a good night's sleep to find the following email waiting for me:

"On Sunday, May 1st, 2011 at approximately 1:30 a.m. a female McDaniel College student was walking home from an off-campus event that had taken place in the 230 block of Pennsylvania Ave.  The student was approached by a white male, approximately 35 years of age.  He is described as: thin to medium build, approximately 5’8”, with a scruffy beard and short brown hair, wearing jeans and a plain black hooded sweatshirt.  After a brief verbal exchange, the student was physically forced into the yard of 218 Pennsylvania Ave. and was sexually assaulted.  The student fought off the suspect and returned to campus.  The student contacted the Department of Campus Safety, who immediately responded to support the student and assist local law enforcement agencies in their investigation and search for the perpetrator."
Reading this to a few family members, I was shocked to hear their responses, particularly when relating the information to two male family members. The first, after being read the email, responded simply with, "Yes, that is, if she's even telling the truth." The second responded, "It's not big deal. There are [sexual predators] everywhere. They're in this neighborhood, they're in other neighborhoods, they're where we work, they're everywhere we go. Nothing you can do about it. Nothing to worry about." My mother, the only female in the residence at the time, was also the only person to become legitimately concerned for my wellbeing on the campus and the other girls on campus, as well as overtly sympathetic toward the actual female that was attacked.
Yes, sexual assault is not exactly rare. But the rate at which it occurs does not make it okay. Are we really so desensitized to this sort of thing that we allow it to become commonplace? After bringing this up with a friend, she said something that just might hold some truth: perhaps this has become commonplace because the message is always "Don't let yourself get raped" rather than "Do not rape."

Will you allow the women of your communities to become the "usual victims"? Or is sexual assault, particularly when it occurs in close-knit communities, something more to you than just another statistic?