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Readers Write

Readers Write image
Parent Issue
Month
July
Year
1986
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

Rape makes the papers everyday. Everyday so many people burglarize homes, have auto accidente, or fail to pay child support. Everyday someone rapes someone else. What is rape? Usually it is a man overpowering a woman. The details vary: intercourse is a Standard element, although not essential. Violence is a given because rape is against the woman's will. The rapist may be a stranger or a familiar face. The rapist may be of an age or ilk, although I suspect that mostly the young ne'er-do-wells are the ones who get caughL The papers use the buzz words Fve just used, but the words seldom stand in sharp contrast. "Rape." "Overpower." "Violence." "Against a woman's will." Reading the same stuff everyday makes it old hat, unexceptional. Who that reads it, man, woman, raper, raped, can afford to react to the barrage? The reaction that women have, or at least that I have, is much deeper and more subtle. I have never been accosted on the street. I have no woman friends, past or present, who have ever told me that they've been raped. (I told that to a woman once and she said, "You know women who've been raped." Did she mean herself? Am I naive?) I heard that someone got raped walking to school when I was in high school (in upstate New York), but I never found out who she was. Someone else was supposedly raped near the Catholic school a couple of neighborhoods over. Even earlier, when I was in the third grade or so (in Kansas), my best friend told me someone had been raped on our school's playground. I asked, " What did they do to her?" "They took off her clothes and rolled her in the snow." I wondered "Was that all?" Jane asked "Isn't that enough?" From a very early age rape has had a presence in my life. It has always been there, somehow awful and mysterious. It is more heinous than burglary, certainly, but in my mind no more likely to get me. I know that I can be a victim, but it doesn't drive me. That is my rational, objective response. Through that reason creeps the deeper subtle stuff. I live alone. My fue escape is through a bedroom window with a flimsy latch. At night I close the blinds tightly with little props so that no one can look in. My bathroom is right off my bedroom and I leave the door open when I'm alone. While in the bath one day my heart stopped when my bedroom window blew open with a loud whoosh. I couldn't see anything, I could only hear the wind. It was nothing, I hadn't shut it well. On my apartment door I have a little piece of tape which says "KNOCK LOUDLY." When arriving home one day I noticed that the tape had been moved to cover my peep-hole. My heart stopped again. Did someone plan to gain access by blocking my view? Was it a bad practical joke? The locks on my car doors don't work well so I don't use them. I always check the back seat before I get in. It is not uncommon for me to get yelled to or whistled at when I walk down the street. How should I sort the flattery from the affront? Isn't it okay to enjoy looking good to men? Why can't they smile at me instead of saying, "Nice tits"? One day about one and a half years ago I was in a downtown bar with a skirt on. I had just been to the doctor and had gotten bad news. A short fat man who was plain at best and who had been drinking came up to me and said, "Excuse me, Ma'am, I don't mean nothing by it, really, but you're the prettiest lady I've ever seen." I was delighted. My woes left for a minute as he scrambled away, afraid that I would take offense. What a shame that he was emboldened by drink but still afraid. And what a shame that that could have scarcd me too. It was so innocent. I had always thought that if I were raped or overpowered that my adrenaline would kick in and that there would be a good fighL I know that that's not true now and rape scares me more. A married fricnd of friends had been trying to court or seduce me or something for about six months. I only saw him every couple months or so, but the meetings had inspired phone calis and a poem about me. I had remained friendly throughout because of who our common friends were and because a direct "NO" is not my forte. During our last encounter in private (I see him at parties occasionally) he pinned me to the floor and responded to my protests with, "A little wrestling always makes it more fun. Come on, I've never seen you mad. You're not mad now." I absolutely could not move. He had my legs pinned with his knees and my arms with his arms. I could not move. When I said, "I'm mad now. GET OFF OF ME, FUCK OFF!" he left. He looked like a dog who'd been whipped. It was rape because it was against my will, because I was overpowered, because it was a violent act even though I had no bruises and shed no blood. But what of him? I had been friendly for months. To his poem I said, "Well-written." The phone calis I received politely, but I always put him off. He read willingness into my smile. Was it my role to issue the forceful "NO" at the outset? It's not just the lawyers and junes and rapists who wonder whcther the woman asked for it, but the woman herself. One wonders whether a sexually permissive society leads to more rape. Years ago married men (or so I gather) would not have openly sought an affair. Young women did not live alone. Saying ""NO" was a simple declaration of ones honor and selfesteem. Maybe rape was more clearly defined 20 or 60 years ago because the impropriety had none of the 80's grey matter. My job is a nine minute walk from my home. I drive because I get off at midnight. I will continue sealing my blinds and using my peep-hole. I will continue being friendly to courters and my friends' friends even if it is seen as a flirtation. The benevolence of the smile supercedes the threat of the crime. The threat doesn't drive me, it gives me the shadcs of grey. anonymous WHAT IS RAPE? One day about one and a half years ago I was in a downtown bar with a skirt on. I had just been to the doctor and had gotten bad news. A short fat man who was plain at best and who had been drinking came up to me and said, "Excuse me, Ma'am, I don't mean nothing by it, really, but you're the prettiest lady I've ever seen." I was delighted. My woes left for a minute as he scrambled away, afraid that I would take offense. What a shame that he was emboldened by drink but still afraid. And what a shame that that could have scared me too. It was so innocent.

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Subjects
Agenda
Old News