Walking Away.

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE/RAPE APOLOGISM/RAPE CULTURE

 

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

“Rape is not worth throwing away a friendship over.”

“Stop overreacting.”

“Don’t be a feminazi.”

These are a sample of the responses I received this weekend when someone I consider a friend made a callous rape joke on Facebook. I politely called him out, and was inundated with comments of similar ilk, as well as several other rape jokes and multiple excuses for this friend’s behaviour.

Frankly, dealing with this shit is getting exhausting.

I’m tired of telling people that rape jokes aren’t funny. I’m tired of being called a feminazi every time I call someone out on rape apologetics. I’m tired of having to personalise the discussion to “Would X be funny if it was in regard to your daughter/girlfriend/wife/etc?” in order to make my point. I’m tired of the victim-blaming. I’m tired of knowing that these people honestly and truly don’t give a shit about rape culture and aren’t going to, ever.

I’ve reached that difficult point where I want to cut these people out of my life. Their disdain for equal rights, their bigotry, their unchecked privilege, and their blatant misogyny colour every conversation we have. Yet, I haven’t been able to call it quits.

These are people I’ve known for 20+ years. We’ve been friends since before we were in school. They’ve been there through tough moments in my life, and I have, likewise, stayed by their side during suicide attempts, parents divorcing, heartbreaks, rehab, and so much more. These are people who’s opinions I have valued for years. When the giant shift in demeanour came, I thought it was a phase. The longer it lasted, the less I could convince myself that it wasn’t here to stay.

Now, I’m stuck here with friendships I would hate to end over a difference in opinion… but in the case of this opinion, it’s so toxic that it has irreparably damaged the fabric of our relationships. Is this worth trying to salvage?  Or will this just end with more frustration on my part and a general sense of animosity all around?

I try to live by the ideal of loving everyone, especially those who don’t deserve it, because they need it the most. It’s hard to resign yourself to knowing that sometimes loving someone means walking away… and sometimes loving yourself means walking away, too.

Advertisements

Survival.

Some days, when my past feels really hard to deal with, I remind myself that simply getting up and facing the world makes me stronger than I ever thought possible, and gives a giant middle finger to those who have tried to hold me down.

I am not the person I was then. For better, for worse, everything in my life has changed. And that’s okay.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. I will make it through. I will survive. I will thrive, despite my demons.

We’ve all been sorry
We’ve all been hurt
But how we survive is what makes us who we are.
– Rise Against

An Open Valentine To My Girlfriends

Darlings,

You are fantastic. Beautiful. Amazing. Brilliant. Caring. Compassionate. Lovely from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

Most days, you would agree with me, but today you won’t. Today you’ll drown yourself in self-loathing and wine coolers, because you are a Single Girl On Valentine’s Day.

Somewhere along the line, you internalised the message that valentines from your parents, your children, your friends, your coworkers… just aren’t good enough. You learned to directly correlate your worthiness as a woman, as a human being with your percieved romantic lovability in relation to others.

That, my friends, is a load of bullshit.

I’m tired of the self-deprecation. Lacking a partner is not the end of the world, despite what society at large would have you believe. You don’t have to be upset, or feel guilty, or apologise for being the dreaded Single Girl On Valentine’s Day. People will give you sympathetic looks when they find out you’re single on Valentine’s Day, on Thanksgiving, on Christmas, hell, they’ll pity you for being single on a Tuesday night most of the time.

I know it’s hard to escape the atmosphere of “LOVE IS ALL AROUND US” and “EVERYONE HAS THEIR MATCH”… so why not re-frame the thought? You ARE loved. Maybe not romantically, but just look at the faces of your parents, grandparents, cousins, children, friends, coworkers. You ARE valued.

Who ever said Valentine’s Day had to be just about romance? Celebrate platonic and familial love. It truly is everywhere, in abundance.

And for goodness’ sake, stop with the wine coolers already. That shit is gross.

I love you.

-T

Suffragism, Through the Eyes of a Seven Year Old

There are moments when I really feel like I’ve done a good job at raising my daughter.

This afternoon, Allie told her Nanny (my mother) that she had decided on a Halloween costume for this year.

Nanny: Oh? What have you decided on?
Allie: I’m going to be a suffragist.
Nanny: (obviously surprised) Can you tell me what a suffragist is?
Allie: Way long long ago, before me and mama and you and GG (Great Grandma) were born, silly men thought women couldn’t do anything! They couldn’t wear pants or drive or even vote! Suffragists fought a big war so that women could vote, just like men. And that’s why I want to be a suffragist for Halloween, ’cause they were so brave!

I’m not going to lie, realising that things I say truly resonate with her made me tear up. If nothing else, I’ve given her a solid sense of equality and a strong grasp of right and wrong.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Sisterhood Is Powerful

I adore my male friends. They’ve been with me through a lot. They’ve given me love, support, good times and true friendship.

However, every time I hear a girl go off about how she “can’t stand girls” and can “ONLY get along with guys” because “there’s less drama,” a little part of me dies.

Yes, women have faults. Yes, some women are mean to other women. Some women have treated me horribly, for a variety of reasons. But my lady friends have also helped me develop some of the strongest bonds I’ve ever known.

My lady friends helped guide me through my first relationship, through my second relationship, through the extremely public trauma that is a highschool breakup. They tell me that I’m smart and funny and beautiful and incredible, even when especially when I’m feeling like none of the above.

They cried with joy when I announced my pregnancy, when my daughter was born, and throughout her life to date. They welcomed us into their lives, their families’ lives, their pregnancies, their children’s lives.

My sisters have held my hand, both literally and figuratively, as I left an abusive ex. They’ve helped me dust myself off and carry on. They’ve given me shoulders to cry on and tissues for my runny nose. They’ve inspired me with their own tales of strength and triumph.

My girlfriends were the first ones I confessed my rape to – almost a decade after it occurred. They were an unwavering pillar of support. They believed me, supported me, helped me to move on from a painful memory I had never quite gotten over. Those same girlfriends were the ones who texted and called and held my hand after my second rape. The ones who let me rehash the details and refused to let me blame myself. They stayed in touch, made sure I got up every day, made sure I carried on. They wouldn’t let me curl up and die, even when that’s all I wanted.

My ladies have stayed up all night with me, dissecting pop culture, current events, oppression, fashion, music, racism, sexism, the beauty myth, what makes Tim Hortons’ coffee so addictive, why that guy hasn’t called yet, and if I even want him to. They’ve held my hair back when I’ve drank too much, put me to bed, and then laughed hysterically when I woke up hung to the tits.

They’ve been there for birthdays, for anniversaries, for graduations and funerals and everyday bullshit. They’ve talked me through breakups and rejection and shared their own stories of heartbreak to make me feel less like an unlovable wretch.

These same women have given me hope, laughter, love, and cast-off clothing. They’ve joked about my big ol’ butt and my penchant for dating assholes. They’ve told me when a guy’s a complete dickwad and then watched me ignore their advice for years. They’ve also helped me move on when that same asshole broke my heart. Not only that, but they did it without even an “I told you so.”

My sisters live far away. I don’t see them nearly enough as I would like or they would like. Distance and finance are formidable foes. Despite this, my sisters are a part of me, and I, a part of them.

Ladies, if you “can’t stand girls,” maybe you haven’t met the right ones. Maybe you’re intimidated by them. Maybe they make you feel threatened, feel less unique, feel inferior. Maybe they challenge you, your beliefs, and your actions.

But me, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my sisters. My sisters hold me up. They inspire me. They challenge me and support me and help me better myself each and every day. My sisters are my strength, and I am blessed to have them in my life.

Gratitude

but you changed the rules
in an hour or two
and I don’t know what you
and your sisters do
but please don’t
please stop
this is not my obligation
what does my body have to do
with my gratitude?

look at you
little white lying
for the purpose of justifying
what you’re trying to do
I know that you feel my resistance
I know that you heard what I said
otherwise you wouldn’t need the excuse

– Ani DiFranco

Unbreakable.

**TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE**

Today I was introduced to an amazing project: Project Unbreakable. Created in October 2011, this project helps survivors of sexual abuse, violence and rape take back the power of words used against them. Creator Grace Brown asks survivors to make a poster showing a quote from their attacker and be photographed holding it. Many survivors outside Grace’s area are taking their own photos and submitting them as well.

This project resonated with me for several reasons. One: I’m a feminist. Sexual violence does not ONLY occur to women, but the majority of it does, and the pain of my sisters is my pain. Two: Rape culture is all around us. It pervades everyday  life. One third of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse, violence or rape. And three: I, too, am a survivor of rape – more than once, in fact.

As I devoured page after page of these photos, my emotions ran the gamut from angry to sad, discouraged, horrified, pained, and yes, even inspired. The strength shown by these survivors is admirable. The stigma around sexual violence often places blame upon the  victims and ignores the responsibility of the perpetrators. Speaking out about these topics may be triggering. It may cause conflict with friends or family members. And, let’s face it, speaking out is downright scary. In a world where most of us care to some extent what others think of us, it’s incredibly hard to open up about a topic that many are judgemental about.

So, in the interest of furthering my One Word project, of healing myself, of learning to speak out against injustice… I will take this step. I will be strong. I will be unbreakable. (And in typical over-achiever fashion, I’ll be submitting two pictures – one for each rape.)

(July 2001 – age 16)

(December 2011 – age 26)