I Fear I’ve Killed My Father

"I Fear I've Killed My Father"

Have I got anything left to say to you, father? I’ve had so much to say during my life and yet I only spoke most of it aloud to myself in those long nights of sobbing alone and wondering if it was possible to cry out all the tears I have for you. I’ve cried so many tears, and yet tonight there are just as many as there has been before. So what is it I haven’t said?

That I love you.

It’s why it hurts me so much, you see. Because you’re my father and I’ve wanted to believe this whole time that you actually gave a shit about me. I made myself the bad one so you could be good in my eyes. I made myself the reason you were so sick and unhappy. I thought I could influence your life and save you from yourself. And now I fear I could influence your death too. If my mother leaves you, I fear you’ll surely die. And who then will pick up your corpse and honour it? What will become of you?

It took me so many years to finally face this pain you inflicted on me because I thought you were too weak and fragile – and if you die it will show me I was right. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy and love yourself. I can see that was unrealistic. But my heart is breaking for you, for us, for what we could have had if you were capable of making better decisions.

But those years are gone and I’m no longer that child who trusted you. I’m now a weary-eyed woman trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered illusions. You used me like a toy doll for your own amusement. You eyed me up and down and made comments about my body and my breasts and told me I look just like my mother. You never protected me from your creepy friends, but instead you joined in when they harassed me. You took advantage of my trust in you and made my existence a dead plastic servant of your whims. And I still loved you because you were my dad.

Maybe my pain is not for you, but is for a broken dream that there still exists some salvation for us. That somehow I might still learn how much you really love me. But I see now you don’t understand love. Maybe you were never loved in your whole life except by your innocent children who you took advantage of, who you abused in every way possible.

But my heart still breaks for this sad demise of our family. No matter how fucked up things got you are still my family, but you put me in a position where I either have to choose my family or myself, because it seems I can’t have both. I’ve wanted nothing more than for my mother to choose me over you, but if she does, I fear you’ll die. Who will honour your small decrepit corpse if she leaves you? It’s like your tricky revenge on me for “ruining your life” as you put it. You would have rather I suffered until the end of my days too so that you could go on living in denial. I never wanted to ruin anyone’s life, I just wanted what anyone wants, to be loved and be happy.

I wanted you to love me, and if you die, so dies my dream for that love. It’s always just been an illusion anyway. I know that. And I accept that you did the best you could, as horrible as it was. I’m so sorry you spent your whole life running from yourself. I miss those moments as a small child when I had no concept yet that you were capable of such awful things. My daddy, just my wonderful daddy who loves me.


I Didn’t Know I Was A Piece of Plastic

"Mannequin"

I’ve realized that I have just been paid lip service all my life. I’ve been told how “equal” I am so many times that I just never questioned it, even when contrary information was staring me in the face. When Snoop Dogg said “We don’t love them hos,” I was pretty sure he wasn’t talking about me. After all, my grade four teacher told me that men and women were equal, and that the women’s rights movement had prevailed and that I could be and do whatever it is I wanted when I grew up. I believed it, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Snoop was obviously referring to those girls over there, not me.

It took being raped – treated like a commoditized object – for me to really see that, in our supposedly enlightened culture, to some men, most certainly to this man who premeditatively raped me, that I am just a piece of plastic. What right did I have as a woman to trust that this guy wouldn’t choose to knock me unconscious and rape me? Apparently none. Perhaps to him I am the evil temptress upon whom he can place all the blame for his actions, so he might be free to flail around in life, hurting people “uncontrollably,” and always being able to say “she made me.

He was taught that he has a right to my body, which he could easily possess with a little social manipulation and rohypnol, to bend it and break it like a plastic Barbie doll, to use it and abuse it and then throw it away when he’s done. He may have even hi-fived his friends the next day and talked about how “good he hit it,” how good it was for him to have sex with a limp, unconscious body. I’ll bet it made him feel powerful. I feel sorry for him. I doubt I was the first woman he’s raped.

And well meaning people still ask me what I was wearing when it happened.

~ “He did not care upon what terms he satisfied his passion. He had even a mad, melodramatic idea to drug her.” – W. Somerset Maugham


Rape Culture, It’s The Real Thing

"I Would Never Rape Anybody!"

In researching for another post, I came across some interesting data pertaining to rape culture. Since it’s nearly always an exercise in extreme patience when trying to explain to men why rape culture is a real thing, I was relieved to find some qualitative data to back up the important message I’ve been trying to convey to the men I know. It’s not that all men are offenders, it’s just that our culture socially sanctions certain behaviours, which has a disinhibitory effect on those who choose to offend.

Douglas W. Pryor, author of Unspeakable Acts: Why Men Sexually Abuse Children, conducted a pioneering study of thirty convicted sex offenders, and gathered data on the thoughts, experiences, and behaviours of these men. It is the first in-depth, qualitative, and narrative-based study of its kind, and Pryor found some general patterns which explained why some men choose to sexually abuse children, which will be further explored in an upcoming post, Why Men Rape – Part II.

Unfortunately, it did not really come as a surprise to me when Pryor also noted that his data unequivocally state that the only difference between the sexual behaviours of child molesters and pedophiles, and that of the general population of men, is simply that the molesters and pedophiles engaged in certain manipulative and coercive behaviours with children, rather than with adult women. Otherwise the two groups are virtually indistinguishable.

This is quite a bold and unnerving statement, so why would I find it relieving instead of nauseating? Because the idea that we live in a culture that condones rape is simply denied by most men – at least that’s been my experience – so I welcome all the supporting evidence I can find. A man who is willing to let his guard down and really listen to a woman share her experiences of how she is routinely objectified, harassed and violated in society is a rare kind of man. Heated arguments often arise during such conversations, with the men claiming that they have never thought about a child in a sexual way, or have ever entertained the thought of raping a woman. It’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s just that their personalized take of it is meant to be proof that because offending has not been their experience, that rape culture simply does not exist by extension. Pryor noted that, “Interestingly, nearly all the men I interviewed said the same things before they became offenders. It is difficult for men to accept that they might be participants in a culture of rape or sexual abuse.”

Pryor’s thoughtful response to rape culture deniers has been to have the men simply answer a specific set of questions, namely: “Have you ever asked or tried to talk a girlfriend or your wife into having sex when she did not want to? Have you ever looked at a child and thought or commented strongly about his or her looks? Have you ever looked at a group of young females and noticed that some were attractive even though you did not know their ages?”

In answering these questions Pryor hopes to show men that although not all men are going to commit sexual violations, that there is still an existing and very much accepted cultural framework that facilitates offending for those who chose to offend.

So the predominant viewpoint that sex offenders are extremely “odd” or “different” from other adult men is simply not true, and only serves to absolve the entire male gender from all responsibility in facilitating a culture of rape and abuse.

So is it a crapshoot which men end up choosing to sexually victimize children? Not exactly. Pryor further notes that in comparing offenders with the general population of men, “one exception is the data on the early childhood histories of the [offenders], in particular their reports of a greater incidence of childhood sexual contact with adults than is commonly found in the general population.” So there are other factors influencing who offends and who doesn’t, and certainly not all men who are sexually abused as children grow up to be offenders, but the taboo nature of child sexual abuse keeps our perception of sexual offenders and the average man completely separate when there are actually more similarities than differences.  By putting all the blame on offenders, by dehumanizing and stigmatizing them, men (and women) in general choose not to take responsibility for their contribution to the ease with which some men can and do sexually offend against women and children.

~ “I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” – Andrea Dworkin