no more silence

i have been avoiding my blog.  because if my intuition and deductive reasoning are right, a man who started stalking me something like three years ago, who i hadn’t heard from in about a year (since i changed my phone number), found me through this blog and has popped back up trying to make contact.  and if he did, indeed, find me through this blog then he knows a whole hell of a lot about me.  enough to find me in more than the realm of the internet.  and i felt stupid, and unsafe and angry.  stupid that i had put so much about myself into this blog and been excited about the gradually increasing traffic it got.  unsafe because i don’t know what effort this man will go to to get back into my life.  and angry that i have to deal with this shit.  angry that someone can make me feel so unsafe, can make me doubt my desire to blog openly and present in my body the way i do.

we met three years ago, when i was still in south carolina.  i’d stopped by a kinko’s to make some copies for a meeting i was rushing to, like usual.  he stopped me and said how much he liked my “natural look.”  and this can be said in a way i find sweet and kind, but i was on guard when he approached me in the kinko’s.  he was clearly appreciating me in an overly sexualized way, in the kind of way that makes you feel dirty, that makes me want to run away and hide my body.  and i couldn’t shake him, and i am bad at saying no or rejecting someone when i think it might hurt them.  highlight: i get that this is my area of growth from this experience.  that i need to be able to say no when i want to, that i need to be able to say no when i know that not saying no puts me in some sort of danger.  and i didn’t that day.  and i am getting better.

as he went on about my body hair and how much he enjoyed it, i didn’t know what to do.  i gave him my business card, hoping that he would go away and he handed me a brochure with three urls written out on it.  i never followed them but i’m pretty sure they were hairy girl fetish porn sites.  i left kinko’s feeling violated and disgusted.  and for two years he called me and i couldn’t get him out of my life.  and i couldn’t set a boundary for myself.

yesterday, my sisters and i were out on the town, when a man approached first me and then both of my sisters.  he introduced himself as chris and shook each of our hands.  he then wandered away for awhile.  but he came back some minutes later holding his phone in the air and asked if he could take our picture.  molly and i immediately told him no, very firmly.  he continued to hold his phone up, looking through it at us.  we had to say no and dodge away from his phone several times before he finally walked away.  and as he left i was furious.

as i am learning to set boundaries for myself and say “no” i need it to be heard.  i do not need you to ask me, time and again, “are you sure?”  and as triggering as it was in connection to this stalker–being approached when i am not inviting attention, being approached because of the way i look and nothing else, the man with the phone also triggered another experience of sexual violence.  when even though i said “no” clearly and multiple times, a man assumed he knew what i wanted better than i did and ignored the boundary i was setting for myself and raped me.

and these experiences have all been mingling with the too many stories i have heard from other women of a range of violent experiences.  and violent they are: from stalking to inter-relational control to rape.  and i’m mad as hell. and i’ve had enough of the victim blaming aimed at me, so don’t tell me that i was asking for it, or that i have to deal with the repercussions of growing my hair out.  i should not have to deal with the perversion of my body, the misuse of my body, the purposeful ignorance of my boundaries.  maybe it’s easier to blame the victim, because then we dont have to confront the violence that pervades all of our society.  and that’s fucking overwhelming.  but it’s time we do it.  because while we don’t we allow violence to exist and perpetuate itself and our sisters and mothers and brothers will suffer from our silence.

sean, if you’re reading this, i do not want you in my life, i am not inviting you in.  you are not welcome here.  because you do not see me as a person; you only see me as a sexual object of your desires.  stay away from me and any other woman who you cannot see as a person.  because that is violence and we can see it as such.  and we will make sure others do as well.  we will not be silent anymore.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 16:51:57

    thx for this, especially the anger and vulnerability. The anger is important, because it comes with the clear dis-invitation. Sean is trying to run his fantasies over you as is the man with the camera-phone. They both share a disbelief that what they are doing will really harm you, so they keep pushing. And what is important about the way they keep pushing is they are doing it without listening, they are not trying to understand your “no”, they are just trying to get you to drop it.

    But the vulnerability is more important, because for other readers it admits you are not where you want to be with boundary setting. This is not surprising. We have an entire culture which is set up so men can run over womens limits. Most obviously it is called rape. More insidiously it is called “he is assertive and she is bitchy” “he is a leader and she is power tripping”.

    It is the ultimate behaviorist experiment. From a young age women are rewarded for letting men take power over them. And of course i am a slave of this too, i wonder why a woman does not smile, but i think about this less when a male does not. i am quicker to offer help to a woman than a man, turning off the part of my brain which analyzes if the assistance is needed or insulting.

    Your vulnerability invites those who care for you to work with you on boundary setting. It invites others to consider their own weaknesses in these areas. It lets us see inside of you.

    Reply

  2. Mikey Cain
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 19:53:54

    I have heard several times from women who shrug off sexual aggression from men as something that’s bound to happen, so they shouldn’t let it get to them. It makes me sad that violent behavior is so normalized that many people just accept it, like developing a callous from being disrespected and violated so many times. Maybe pretending like it’s not a big deal is a way of coping with being violated, I don’t know; but I think people who abuse people depend on that response; they know that many of the people they attack will feel to scared and uncomfortable to confront them.

    It would make me so sad if people like these men succeeded in making you withdraw from the world. These people prey on the kindness of others, they entertain themselves be abusing people’s trust; but the world needs kind, nurturing people as a part of any progress that will change the culture that condones aggression towards an exploitation of women and other victimized groups.

    I believe that its vital that our society must not develop a thick skin when it comes to accepting abuse. People should be mad as hell when their rights are violated. Attackers should never expect complacency as a reaction to their abuse. I am grateful that you are speaking up about this, and I hope that other people do the same. I don’t want to be in a world where any kind of abuse or aggression or violation of personal integrity is accepted.

    Reply

  3. Sara Tansey
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 16:00:44

    thanks boys, for the encouragement. its nice to have boys in my life who respond positively to my rants. for more insight on how to abandon victimhood and violence, check out: http://raven0us.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/fact-i-love-the-trite-mythos-of-the-outlaw/ love to the mariposa outlaws!

    Reply

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