Week 4, Meeting 4
It comes in waves.
Me and my friends use this quote to remind us that our feelings are valid, even when our own brain convinces us that we are the problem and our silence is the solution. When it feels like the world is about to crash on us, we remember its a wave of emotions, memories, experiences, physical feelings. We let the wave pass and float on the foam.
This week was a transitional week for our coalition. I think we were finally able to take a step back and start examining why we chose this topic in the first place. I am grateful to all who shared their personal experiences and were willing to speak on how it impacted them. It's not only admirable but necessary for us to remember that at the end of the day we are humans all trying to maintain our own humanity.
Rape culture is never an easy topic to discuss. Rape, in general, is heavy. Whether in a club or walking home, you always have to wonder if you're safe. PencilCase mentioned in her post that you have to be aware and put yourself in a safe position. I agree, to an extent. However, everyone's definition of safe is relative to the mechanisms at their disposal to maintain their safety. Some kids are taught that they should always trust their family and never talk down to them, even if they are touching you inappropriately. Some people are taught that although they should never walk home alone at night, you can't afford that right and that's the reason why you have to take the train at 2 in the morning and pray that man who got on after you will hopefully stop following you. Some people are taught that their emotions are unwanted or not to be processed and the only way they can be managed is if they drink at a party and drink until they can't remember how they ended up at home--or what happened while they were still there
I wish not getting assaulted or harassed was as simple as putting yourself in a safe position. But my mom thought she was safe when she was with a group of friends; she didn't know one of them would lace her and then rape her. My grandma thought she was safe when she married her husband; she didn't know that she subjected her body to physical abuse and sexual assault by the man she loved. My cousin Willie, God rest his soul, thought he was safe when he met Auntie Sarah; he didn't know she was a child molester and would eventually manipulate and assault him, causing trauma so deep he had to leave the United States.
If you have never been "safe", how are you suppose to know when you're not safe? Why do you have to be safe in order to prevent other people from mistreating and abusing you--whether through gestures, words, actions, etc.? Why is the sole responsibility of your safety, your ability to live, totally depend on you when there are forces beyond your existence deeming your worth and whether you deserve to be safe in your life?
Knowledge of safety is a privilege that my people have not been afforded--or even offered. And even on our safest days when we don't walk after sunset, never take a drink from strangers, or never even leave the house, we still have to fear that someone wants to harm us, what do we tell those people who are still abused? "At least you tried"? What do we say to those people who did everything safe and were still raped? What do we say to those people who did things that made them unsafe? "Did you even try"? Rape isn't a dichotomy of safe or unsafe, deserving or undeserving, woman or man; its a human issue that no matter the circumstance is unfair, traumatizing and enforced by a culture beyond us that we must acknoweldge and work to combat. More importantly, we need to make being human human again--at the core of its essence, at that.