On October 6th 2017, I had the honor and privilege to help raise money for Community Beyond Violence (formerly DVSAC) by performing in the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. The play, more than 20 years old, is still relevant and as poignant as ever. Sadly, statistics on sexual violence haven’t changed much in 20 years. Eve Ensler managed to take a difficult topic and treat it with power as well as humor.
After the show, I was touched by the brave women who shared their stories of domestic violence and abuse, high-lighting the important work being done in Nevada County by organizations like Community Beyond Violence.
As the #MeToo movement exploded on social media this week, many of us have been reminded of the unfortunate, almost-universal experience of harassment that women face.
I have had my news feed covered in #MeToo for the last few days. A friend posted that she has seen a “Not me” post and felt herself questioning the validity of this.
I remember being 23 years old and talking to a friend about the night my date had sex with me when I “wasn’t really into it.” I told her how I had said no but that he went ahead anyway. I said more which I won’t say here. My friend listened to the whole story and then put her arms around me. She brushed my hair with her fingers. When she next looked me in the eye, she said, “Do you know that you were raped?” I was shocked.
There are many, many women who don’t realize that coerced, forced, drug-induced, non-consensual sex is assault, is rape. We think that if we say no but don’t fight, we are somehow culpable.
We live with inherent patriarchy, with internalized male superiority. So many women believe it is their duty to find a way to not get raped, to not be assaulted, to protect themselves from assailants.
I hope, I sincerely hope with all I have that there are women who can say with honesty, “Not me.” I hope for my mother, my aunts, my sisters, my nieces, and for every other women on this planet.
In a culture of male dominance and male preference, however, it is hard to know what the standards of perception tell each woman. “Is it rape if he bought me dinner?” “Is it rape if I didn’t lock my door?” “Is it rape if I was wearing a skirt?” “Is it rape if he’s my husband?” There are women who honestly don’t know the right answers to these questions.
And that is the work we must do.