Young men, high and in cultural pain, came in, hog-tied the 3 men, and raped me and another woman in our party. The third man hadn’t gotten to the third woman of our party before the gunshots went off, so she was spared that. It was her 32nd birthday, and it was my sign that God was listening, because she was spared. I’d hated to have her birthday ruined like that.
I died there on the floor, at the foot of the bed, listening to the brutal rape of another women on the bed.
My face was covered with his shirt, tied around my eyes, covering my whole face, suffocating me and filling my face with his hot August night scent of sweat and desperation. I said I couldn’t breathe, and he moved the shirt up, to uncover my mouth. Mercifully, he did not “kiss” me.
He did, however, try to please me, which was a whole dimension of mixed information that I was confused by.
I was ready for the brutality of the rape on the bed above us, not these attempts at tenderness and sensuousness under the gun. Literally.
Being physically intimate is a connection, a revealing enterprise.
You may reveal that you are tender and affectionate. You will reveal whatever it is you keep hidden. You will reveal if you are lost, lonely, grateful, self-doubting, looking for validation, seeking redemption, and even reveal if you just seek revenge.
The rapist on the bed sought revenge. Revenge for a culture that impoverishes him, his ancestors, friends and family. Revenge for a culture that sees him not as a man, but as (a descendant of) slave, property. Not quite human. Less than.
Before he opens his mouth. Before he can learn any of the white-man things, the knowledge of which can sometimes be more valuable than skin color, or sex, or religion, but there are no guarantees of that.
Revenge for a culture that no only doesn’t even try to support him, lift him up, give him a real chance, but instead has institutionalized his oppression and exclusion, legally, in housing codes, social services access codes. In every layer of government, civil service, education and health care, this man and his people are institutionally punished, ground down, held back and denied, even as all that structural bias is denied.
I was ready for revenge rape, but not for validation seeking rape.
The man who raped me was auditioning for the white world. Maybe if he could please me, maybe my blonde hair and blue eyes would give him some dispensation, some magic gold dust that he could earn, and take with him.
Maybe I, as stand-in for the white world, could give him some approval, some validation.
Maybe if he could sexually please me, I could let him in to the white world, to validate his entrance into the world that didn’t beat him down all the time.
He had no idea that I wasn’t allowed in that promised land of equality either.
That to them, I was simply a consumable, to be looked at, for their pleasure and gratification. To be owned by my father and later, if “lucky”, by a husband. Some white man who would deign to take care of me, and support me because clearly, I was incapable of making my own way in the world, since as a female, I was constitutionally inferior.
I could learn those things that white men value — literature, economics, history or anything else that struck my fancy, but even educated, I could not equal them. I was, after all, only a girl. And girls are just for fucking, cooking and cleaning, and hanging out with kids. In other words, doing all the stuff the white men don’t want to do, as long as they can poke you whenever they want to. Ideally, to be utterly care-less of you.
But this man seeking redemption though tenderness and giving pleasure had no way of knowing he was trying to please another prisoner, not a gate keeper.
The tenderness in the insanity of the moment, the violence of the drugged-crazed leader raping the other women on the bed, using his gun to hit her in the face to force her to cooperate, was a dimension of surrealism I wasn’t expecting.
But it was beyond surrealism — it was hyper-realism. It was the realest.
I let my parents take me to mass on Sunday soon after.
As liberal, Dorothy Day Irish Roman Catholics, we had always made fun of our local church for its modern art opulence. Extravagant, gorgeous chipped stained glass everywhere in a stone building two stories tall. One of the richest parishes in the city.
Though no longer a practicing Catholic, I had grown up going to this church, and my parents were daily practicing Catholics, and I hoped to be comforted, I thought.
But when I got there, the richness of the place was too much.
The safety and serenity of the place was too much.
I had to absent myself, go to the rest room and cry.
I cried for the men who could never get in their car and go to another part of town and leave their troubles behind them.
I cried for the men who kept knocking and banging on the doors and windows of that decent world of equal opportunities, and liberty for all, but the glass holding them out is so brittle and constantly replaced so they can only get bloody and die, railing against it, trying to be heard.
I cried from guilt, that I could go to another neighborhood and leave that night back there, at least in appearances. I cried survivors guilt for a geographic solution.
I also cried for the confusing lie of my white skin and blonde hair — how they were supposed to mean freedom and access, but really they meant chattel, and being owned in other ways, especially sexually.
I cried for not being as bloody, deformed and ruined on the outside by what happened as I now felt on the inside.
To the rapist I looked like I had it all, was on top of the world. What advantage would be beyond a skinny white lady with long blonde hair and blue eyes?
The world kept sending me messages about how perfect a life I must have or could have or had to have, but that was never my experience.
A friend of mine at the time told me that I was the only brown-haired thinking blonde he had ever met. But I knew other blondes whose life experiences on the inside did not fit what the world told them their lives were like.
None of that ever considered the out-right rapes, much less the mini-rapes, the socially accepted rapes, the diddling with the baby because she can’t possibly remember it happened incest that is completely denied as what it is for ten thousand reason/excuses.
My friend at the time finally helped me put things in perspective when he said, “You were murdered, and you lived through it.”
I had been murdered as a baby too, by someone who was supposed to be and demanded to be — completely trustworthy, completed trusted, and absolutely obeyed.
All owners think they are benevolent and that should make the slavery palatable.
But the cage, however beautifully appointed, is still a prison.
And as part of the “deal” I wasn’t even allowed to know what did happen to me, to doubt him, to tarnish his image.
Like the Cosby show still on TV in reruns, even while the serial rapist is on trial.
Being murdered and living through it at 26 helped me access, see and heal from having been murdered as a baby.
After that at 26 I stopped going to family gatherings. I didn’t have the reserves to keep up the lies, the pretenses, the ten thousand papercuts of “family” as something comforting, or safe, or trustworthy.
Since then I have died a few more times in my life.
It is challenging to die while your body still breathes, but it happens to many of us, more often than the Time-Warner version of the world admits or allows.
Right now, our country has been murdered, and the murder is being denied.
I know it is hard to get your bearings in a lie world, but we’ve been living in a lie-world for a long time.
The lie of equality.
The lie of freedom.
The lie of democracy.
The lie of your vote doesn’t matter.
Now is the time to wake up from the lies.
This is the excuse to admit what you’ve known all along.
Like the rape at 26, these current events in our country are your opportunity for breakthrough, instead of the old break down.
To stop pretending to fit in, or that things are fair, or that there aren’t those who believe they own you.
What is breaking down is the rotten, the corrupted, the Swiss-cheese pretense of freedom, liberty and decency, and it is the pretense that is rotten.
Let the truth will out, and set us all, personally and then collectively, free.
Speak your truth. Write TV shows about your experience. Find friends you can be yourself with, and dump anything that says you’re not Enough — friends, family, make-up philosophies, music, movies — everything. Especially what goes on in your own head that you always pretend to not listen to.
Change the world — change your world — today.
No more waiting.