Wednesday, April 29, 2015
ALL THE RAGE APRIL: Why All the Rage Matters To Me
(Apologies in advance, this post is a bit all over the place.)
I've been thinking about this post all month. What was I going to say that hasn't already been said? How was I going to contribute to this conversation?
I've seen so many wonderful posts from brilliant women about rape culture and the importance of All the Rage and books like it, it's hard to know how to add my voice. I decided to tell a story, a personal one, that I always think about when it comes to rape culture.
It happened a few years ago, but it has always stuck with me. I was leaving a party, and grabbing the friends I had come there with to head out. When I found one of my friends, a guy we both knew had his legs laid across her lap. I knew what kind of guy he was, and my warning bells went off right away. I turned to my friend though and told her we were heading out.
She never got a chance to respond.
The guy jumped right in, telling me that she was going home with him tonight. I bristled. I didn't like him speaking for her or how trapped she looked. She was speaking for her, he was practically on top of her, and he wasn't letting her say anything. So, I told him simply that I wasn't talking to him. He kept pushing it, though. Kept telling me to go, they were fine. This wasn't my business. I told him no, it sure as hell is my business that if she told me she wanted to stay, that's fine, but I was hearing it from her. Not him. We went back and forth a bit, getting pretty heated until another guy, one I'd never met before, jumped in.
"Stop being a cockblock." He told me.
He didn't stop there.
"You're just jealous you don't have a guy." He laughed.
So did the guy on the couch.
So did other people at the party.
I don't remember everything he said, although those lines stuck in my head particularly well. But I remember how it felt and, I'm not going to lie, it hurt. I felt ashamed. Embarrassed. Like I was being attacked for speaking my opinion. That maybe I was just being making a big deal out of nothing.
But I also felt angry as hell.
If you've ever seen me angry, it isn't a pretty sight. And this guy knew really quickly that I wasn't going to take his words and back off. I let the guy have it. I try not to swear on this blog, but I'm sure you can imagine the curses I was hurling at him. I told him he wasn't involved in this. I told him he need to back off. He didn't, of course. But neither did I.
While we were in this heated exchanged, my friend ran out of the room. I followed a few minutes later and she told me simply that she wanted to go home. The guy followed me, and looked at me in disgust and anger when I told him she asked to go home. I'm sure he didn't believe me. I sure as hell didn't care. On the way home, my friend and I were crying. Because she hadn't known how to say no. And I had been attacked for trying to let her.
And I was alone. No one else was standing up and saying anything. They let me be degraded like that, and laughed along with them. All because I was trying to protect my friend. I didn't know the people at that party, so I can't tell you what they were thinking. But, I do know this: what happened was rape culture in action. One guy thinking his wants trumped consent. Another thinking a girl's voice should be silenced. And a whole group of people ignoring how wrong the situation was because it was acceptable to them.
It's not acceptable.
I'm a thinker. And writing this post had me looking back on all those experiences I've had that could've ended up worse. It dragged up memories of nights out dancing with strong hands on my arms, bodies against mine, a gentle 'no' turned into an invitation to convince me otherwise. One of those nights, after a particularly bad experience with a guy, I left the club alone, something I absolutely never do. I think back about how lucky I am that he didn't follow me.
Why do we think of it in those terms? That I'm "lucky" the guy that held me against the wall, and kept me there despite my protests, didn't take it further? That I'm "lucky" the guy that followed me off the bus didn't follow me all the way home? That I'm "lucky" I was okay all those times I came home late at night alone?
I shouldn't be lucky. I should be safe. Girls should be safe.
But we live in a society that doesn't protect us. That tells us we are less. That our bodies are up for public scrutiny and debate, and what we do with it isn't always our decision. It's hard to not feel defeated at times. Because if you ask a girl, they will give you stories like mine, too often unimaginably worse. Sometimes you just want to scream at the top of your lungs, because how is this still happening? Why haven't we changed?
But, then there's books like All the Rage. They bust open the door on the conversation about rape culture, and how girls are treated. About all the ways society can kill girls. These books are pivotal, vital, and so so needed. Books create empathy and understanding, and create a dialogue on subjects that are sometimes hard to discuss. We have to have this conversation, because we can't keep treating girls like this. It's needs to stop.
It's why I try to champion books like All the Rage. Because if maybe, just maybe, everyone reads this book, things would start changing. It would foster understanding and anger and maybe people would finally get what women have been telling them for years. I truly think books like All the Rage are going to make a change.
I really hope they do.
- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)