Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Disability/Sexual Politics

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Disability/Sexual Politics
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey all - it's the prodigal daughter back from a long Scarleteen absence. Unfortunately, my return isn't an entirely happy one. I've had a really damaging and bizarre experience in the past few months that I'm having a difficult time processing. I feel like the only way to get over this is to tell my rather long-winded story and see what you experts have to say. Also I'd really prefer that everything I say is never referred to outside of this forum, because it's all sensitive/intense/difficult for me to say.

I'll start this off by giving you a autobiographical sketch from a while ago. It's a happy prologue to an unhappy story. One of the most fulfilling times in my life - sexually speaking - was back when I was in high school. Paradoxically enough, I was also very nearly blind. That is to say, I was extremely photosensitive - I wore tinted glasses that made me look like a bit of a hipster - and had to keep the left eye occluded while dealing with reduced vision in the right eye. Eventually I recovered my vision, but during this weird trial period of seeing and not-seeing I was by turns stone-cold terrified that I'd go blind altogether (I didn't know then that this was unlikely to happen) and determined to stay confident and make the most out of the experience. I know that sounds strange, but I have this novelistic tendency to make a recordable story out of even the most unfortunate experiences. If I didn't try to novelize all the things that happen to me, then I think I'd become irretrievably depressed.

Anyway, there were a few months during the summer of my sophomore year where I had a particularly difficult time seeing, and often had to wear both dark glasses and an eye patch. I had a boyfriend then as well, and he was a sweet and pretty mischievous guy. He knew the last thing I wanted was pity - I'd gotten so much of it, after all, from well-intentioned service people who offered to help me around grocery stores, and from unsuspecting neighbors who took me by the arm in an attempt to guide me to my own mailbox - so that's not what he gave me. Sometimes he'd make sappy promises to "be my eyes" in the event that I really did go blind, but mostly he just entertained me with ridiculous impressions, cooked for me and spent hours with me in the bedroom. And I remember this sex being particularly good, because it was so completely about my four non-defunct senses, and he would often turn the lights out on us just to level the playing field. I remember there was a womb-like security in this feeling, a supreme lack of judgment about the whole thing. I remember thinking that sex was one place where the blind have an advantage over the sighted, because the most creative, compassionate and rewarding sex demands a willingness on behalf of both partners to touch and be touched, etc., and to get past all the impressions and hang-ups that can plague the sighted. I think my sexual relationship assuaged my terror of complete darkness. Oddly enough, it was one of the times in my life where I felt most self-assured and confident, all my neuroses about my body (blindness, pregnancy, etc.) aside. Not only was I a sexual human being, but I was a capable intellectual/creative one as well - my artistic life flourished during this time, and just before I ended my relationship with this guy, I wrote some stuff that I continue to emulate to this day. Not surprisingly, this led me to develop a fetish for blindfolding - whenever I have sex with a new partner, I blindfold the both of us as a test of our romantic compatibility.

Well, now let's fast forward a few years. I am in college, and I'm a year out of my second serious (and also pretty solid) relationship. The only real experience - and here you'll get a sense of how dark things are about to get - I've ever had with the attractions of older men is a professor who wrote me poetry, none of which was explicit love poetry, but it could have been construed as such. The professor stopped without incident after I showed a rather intense poem to my then-boyfriend and the boyfriend said it was weriding him out. That made me realize how un-kosher the whole thing was, and there was no major fallout after I asked the professor to stop.

As I've already said, I'd been single for a while when I won a scholarship to study at a literary foundation in Europe. I planned the whole thing a year in advance, and I was thrilled to be going. Needless to say, my friends were all very envious. When I got to the foundation, I discovered that I was the youngest one in the place - the next-youngest were 30-something grad students working on their PhD dissertations. Apparently there'd been something precocious about my application, because the director of the foundation never suspected how young I was. I was OK with being the youngest, though, because I figured it would be a fantastic opportunity for me anyway.

I stayed with a host family chosen by a friend of the director. The family consisted of an older couple, the husband of which was 75 and the wife 59. I got on well with these two right off the bat because they were both artists. I really trusted them, and almost began calling the man "Papi," because he felt like a grandpa to me. We had very similar personalities.

Needless to say, he wasn't interpreting the relationship the same way I was. We went on an excursion to an art museum and afterward he took me to his studio - I was unsuspecting the whole time - and sexually molested me. He said things to me that made it sound like I'd been complicit in the whole ordeal and was having a "secret little love" with him.

Afterwards I was disgusted with him and disgusted with myself. I had had such a good relationship with the family that I almost wanted to rebuild things - and that says a lot, because I've been known to be good at holding grudges. Anyway, it was painful and horrible for me to move out of there: I could barely get the director to agree to find me a new place (he wondered why I couldn't have just stayed there and "ignored" the guy until the end of my stay), the wife was openly hostile to me even though I'd done nothing, and the man never apologized (although the friend who'd placed me in the apartment promised me he was eager to apologize). I later learned that this same man had molested the director's friend twenty years ago, but this wasn't enough to give her second thoughts about placing me there - or enough for her to do so much as tell the man's wife, who'd been her best friend for years! The director's friend ended up sending me several emails in an attempt to save face and find out what exactly had happened on the night I moved out of the house - trying to remain my "friend," no doubt - and when I finally responded that I had moved and was doing OK, she accused me of being a "manipulative brat" and not trusting her enough to give her information. I ceased communication with her entirely.

The next unhappy discovery came when I found out that the director of this literary foundation had a taste for young women, and this was the reason he'd reacted with such apathy when I said I wanted to move out. The grad student living with him explained that he'd made several advances on her before, but they'd brokered a peace so they could be friends now. She told me that this was something I'd maybe come to understand with several more years of experience - when I'm 30, like her. (My thought was "I'm not going to ******* UNDERSTAND misogyny any better when I'm 30 than when I'm 21. It's wrong no matter what!") To complicate the situation, the director was still a very kind and almost grandfatherly guy, helpful to anyone and everyone who sought a recommendation or use of his library, and disproved of what had happened to me (even though he'd acted helpless when it first happened). He just really liked to look at young girls, and to have them around, and once confessed to this grad student that his dream was that, old as he was, a young woman would take interest in him and want to be with him. Everyone in his academic circle thought this was a cute quirk, and the women sometimes played along - staying close to him, whispering with him, lounging across the couches in his study. He loved making sex jokes, too, and everyone found this an equally "charming old man" thing. I just found it disgusting.

Soon I was eager to escape the creepy parallel universe of the literary foundation, and I sought out the sympathetic ears of academics who actually looked like they hadn't drunk the Kool Aid. Most of the women agreed with me, but the younger ones acted totally helpless ("It's going to happen to you a lot in your life, so you just have to put up your boundaries and get used to it." Or "Yeah, it's sort of a joke in academia that this happens. What're you gonna do?") I would've chalked this up to the backwardness of this European country, but some of these academics were American and Canadian, and they had political ideologies similar to my own. A few days ago, I made the mistake of attempting to confide in a few young-ish academic men. I told them about my unfortunate home situation and how creeped out I was by the misogynistic culture at the foundation. One, who was German, couldn't understand why I was judging the director so "harshly." To my surprise, the American agreed with him. And then he proceeded to lay into me: I was being "puritanical" and "judgmental" and had clearly had a totally sheltered childhood. He made me feel dumb for being outraged by the misogyny at the foundation. The German joked that maybe I could write a short story about how unhappy the whole thing made me; that really boiled my blood, because I could see he wasn't taking my art seriously. I came away from the conversation confused and crying, wondering if there was anyone in this supposedly "intellectual" group who'd witnessed the Civil Rights Movement. I talked to a few older academic-women about it and they told me that I was completely right, but that I couldn't slander the director because, despite his flaws, he's a "very special person." Even if he is benign compared to the guy who actually sexually molested me, why do I have to kowtow to him just because he's famous in academia? What is this, 1950?

So now I've been feeling devastated, and I have two wishes prevailing above all else in my mind: a) I wish that I could go back to the safety of being blind again, the gentleness of that relationship, and the freedom from having to see all the twisted shit that this world puts forth and b) I'd been born a boy so that no one would laugh at my intellectual or creative ambitions. I feel like a freak because I've been pawed all over by ancient men, and I haven't had a boyfriend in a little over a year. Most of my friends are happily dating, and spending their summers in ways that make sense for 21-year-olds: working at college, going abroad with study-abroad groups, internships, etc. And now just because I tried to use my intellect in a positive way, I ended up in a lion's den that's discouraged me from being an intellectual woman in the world: young men won't want anything to do with my brain because guys perceive smart/funny girls as a threat, and older men will want me exclusively for my brain, and claim to be "mentoring" me when in reality they just think they're going to have sex with me, like I'm a 50-year-old in a 21-year-old body. I hate academia and I don't know if I can trust the art world - the German guy, who at least tried to comfort me, told me about how depressing the art world is, too; how everyone's sleeping with everyone. It makes sense now that I'd sometimes try to affect my blindness, stay in the dark even after the worst of my eye troubles were over, because it's better to be removed from this kind of world than be a part of it like I have to be. I'm a totally able-bodied and healthy person, and I've got perfect vision with the help of some not-thin corrective lenses, but I'm more unsure of myself and scared than when I couldn't see. I've encountered a web of misogyny so consistent and thorough that I'm not sure where it ends. I once entertained fantasies of becoming an expatriate in Europe, but you can bet that won't be happening now.

What should I do? Should I write under a pen name so people will think I'm a man and then take me seriously? Is this just a pocket of sexism, or is this the way the world is? When I get called puritanical by someone who's supposed to be teaching feminist litcrit to grad students, then is there any hope for the rest of the world?

[ 08-06-2011, 09:41 AM: Message edited by: all_about_eve ]

Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yikes! Sorry about how long this is! Please don't take this as me being egotistical - I just really wanted to share with you, but I usually end up saying a bit too much.
Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No worries. I'm not sure how you would have expressed all of that otherwise.

It's great to see you here again, but I'm so sorry that it's around these circumstances.

The first thing I want to say is that I'm in agreement with all the feelings you have expressed here. I think they are all valid, all sound, and all reasonable. I think the people who reacted to you judgmentally about them seem to either a) have their own agendas which involve denying what a big deal this all is and how unfair it is so they can excuse those agendas or b) are so thick in all of this kind of stuff that they can't see the forest through the trees. I think your anger and disappointment are justified, and I think you -- as everyone is -- were entitled to far better and different treatment than you received. I think there was an essential respect you were not given, and that that is inexcusable.

I don't think that we can't work as women in the world, if that's how we choose to identify our gender, without being taken seriously. Will we have to deal with sexism sometimes, be it in our work or other parts of our lives? Probably. Does that really suck? You know that it does, especially when you wind up in a situation/social circle like this, where it's so manifest that it seems like there is nowhere to get away from it.

Do I think the circle you've dealt with here is indicative of the whole world? I don't. For sure, some parts of academia are still really problematic, and it's one of those areas where there clearly are places where there is a lot of forward movement left to be made. But I don't think you can't work in academia or the arts without signing on to all of this stuff or without having to deal with this level of misogyny.

I get though, too, how the timing of this with the change around your disability has got to be tough. It's a pretty intense living metaphor, really, given that timing, but I also hope you can recognize that that may be all it is: a metaphor made by timing, not by some kind of essential truth about seeing the world for how it is. What you have seen is one really awful situation and clearly, one deeply dysfunctional group of people, probably made all the more so because those leading in this circle are ringmastering these dynamics so pervasively.

So, where do you want to take this from her?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Heather,
Thanks for the quick response! You're right about the metaphor thing - I know the two stories don't fit together entirely, and it's more of a brutal coincidence than anything, but they really made sense together when I first wrote the post. It's a subject that's been really haunting me during this disastrous month.

I want to just regain my confidence. I feel like a freak after being assaulted by that old man. I want a boyfriend my age. I want a normal life again. You're right that not all areas of academia are like this, and you're also right that I deserved way more respect than I got. The truly creepy part of this thing is that the guy who assaulted me said that he respected me so much and he'd never do anything to hurt me. He said that over and over again and then molested me. I don't get why he molested me if he was so impressed with me. He started out being condescending, too: telling me my German wasn't good enough, or asking me the kind of dorky questions you'd ask an elven-year-old.

The academic women seemed sort of resigned to the fact that they'd have to work "7 million times harder" to get noticed in academia. They were all older (middle aged), and the younger ones seemed more complacent than optimistic. I'm not the kind of person who likes to just sit by and take things as they are - I'd rather just grab the respect I deserve and be on with it. So I found this scary and depressing, because I always thought I could have a great career and a great love and a family no problem - now these people are making me doubt it. Maybe they were just talking like that because they're part of this intensely misogynistic circle?

Also, I'm embarrassed to admit that all my favorite writers are men, and that I usually write from the male perspective. I don't know what it is about me, but when it comes to literature I've always gravitated towards the guys. I think certain female writers are geniuses - Virginia Woolf, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Arundhati Roy, Jaimy Gordon - and I think others, like Dana Spiotta and Rebecca Makkai, are immensely talented. But I always subtly judge a book harder when it's written by a woman - I DON'T KNOW WHY - and I always roll my eyes at books that have to do with like "three generations of women" living in cottages in the northeast or something like that. Maybe it's because I just got raised on a steady diet of white male in literature classes. I always thought novels like "Infinite Jest" were the best things around, and I like that muscular style of writing. But this all terrifies me, because if I'm bored or judgmental of female novelists - the very thing I want to be - then how can I expect to become one? I want to sort of break the confessional mold that a lot of female writers seem to get stuck in (Flannery O'Connor and Jaimy Gordon seem to have done this very well) and be an artist on my own terms. But I also have this desire to be "important" or "well-known," and it's been a longtime worry of mine that that won't happen to me because I'm a woman.

When I'm just behaving like myself, I behave in ways that most girls (even my friends, who are INSANELY smart) don't. I basically crack jokes constantly and get really serious with others about art/my ambitions. I'm competitive with some guys humor-wise, but it's a friendly competition. These are guys who are my age, of course. With these older guys in academia-land, I basically had to shout my jokes in order for them to be heard, and it took them like five years to finally get that I'm funny. I have such mixed feelings about these people, because I can tell they liked me, but also that they're extremely backward and strange and are buying into this f***ed up pre-feminist Weltanschauung.

I'm scared that those two guys I made the mistake of confessing to are now going to try and ruin me because they're competitive academics and - at least according to one of the women I talked to - they like to try and destroy or "hold back" their female counterparts. I really opened up to them, and I don't know why. I guess it was stupid of me. I was being gossipy and it was totally the wrong audience.

What do you think I should do?

Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh and also, does this have anything to do with me being 21 and not 31? Because everyone kept saying I'd be able to handle this kind of stuff better in ten years, but to me that sounded like I'd be better able to handle misogyny in ten years, and I don't think that'll ever be the case.
Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm afraid I have to head out for the day, I'm just trashed after a long workday, and I don't want to shortchange you with this. But I'll be back tomorrow, and head to your post here first thing.

And no, I don't think this is about age. Or, if it is for those folks, and they find they care less about sexism and misogyny and harassment in ten years, I don't think that's a good thing. I think that's pretty scary and sad, honestly.

I also want to make sure you end your day knowhing that a whole lot of people have survived assault, and assault rarely tells us anything about victims. It tells us a lot more about perpetrators.

You're not a freak. You are simply someone who was in a vulnerable position someone else exploited, something which has happened to far, far too many of us, and I'm sorry it also happened to you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry for the wait.

So, I guess my first question is this: what do you want to do about this?

I mean, I hear you saying that you had someone place you in a home where they KNEW you would be in danger, and where you were done harm. Practically speaking, if you were interested in such a thing, there is justice that you could pursue around this legally.

I also think that it's sound to consider some counseling: you've been through trauma, and you likely, as most of us tend to, need some support and help with processing this and doing some healing.

You and I could probably have a talk about literature sometime (for instance, I don't think women writers are more confessional, I just think that it's a) perhaps easier to view that way, b) that we often mistake male confessional writing for something else -- Hemingway, anyone? -- and c) that we need to think about publishing markets and how sexism plays a part), but I'm not sure that's what you want to do. If so, holler, and glad to engage around that.

I also think that it's tough for me to really get on board with the "I do X so differently than other women," because I think that's something I tend to hear more often than "I do X just like other women." My impression is that those kinds of perceptions are more often led by the expectation that women aren't diverse than anything else.

But while I think those two things could be interesting conversations, how much will they help you right now? I don't know, so that's your call to make. I'm sure you can better identify what will be helpful and useful to you right now than I can.

quote:
The truly creepy part of this thing is that the guy who assaulted me said that he respected me so much and he'd never do anything to hurt me. He said that over and over again and then molested me. I don't get why he molested me if he was so impressed with me. He started out being condescending, too: telling me my German wasn't good enough, or asking me the kind of dorky questions you'd ask an elven-year-old.
I think this sounds w hole lot like pretty typical dynamics of any kind of abuse or exploitation. I think the trick is to know that it's probably not sound to figure that this person was earnest in saying they were impressed with you and had no intent to harm you. What was more likely is that the things they were saying are NOT in conflict with their actions because they said them to manipulate or mollify you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would really like to engage about female writers and sexism in the publishing market. At the same time, though, I'm a bit scared to do so, because I don't want to learn any more damning information that's going to make me yet more jaded about writing. I've wanted to write since I was six, and I think I'd pretty much be destroyed if I found out there are very real glass ceilings that I can't break through in my lifetime. It just depresses me so much that I don't want to think about it. It feels like my life's purpose is writing, and I want to write challenging stuff and get recognized for it. If I can't do that, then I'm not sure what I'd do with my life.

I understand where you're coming from with the "I don't behave like most women" thing. Let me revise that statement RADICALLY. I behave really differently from some groups of girls at my college. Smart as they are, there's still a culture of laughing at guys' jokes and keeping manic ambition to a minimum. And of course this could be unfair of me, and I could just be imagining all this, but my friends have commented on it, too, and a lot of them are really bewildered by it. And I go to a really progressive school. Maybe it's just my mood and I'm imagining it all. Maybe it's because I'm currently single and the dating pool's gotten so small. Who knows? Women are wildly different and eccentric and exciting, but it's sort of hard for us to be seen that way. We get stereotyped almost immediately: our writing, our looks, our talents, etc. This summer has made me feel like I can't be a woman on my own terms, and it's driving me nuts.

I am currently going to get counseling; you're right about that, too. I'm not extremely interested in litigation, because I never want to see or hear from these people again. I suppose you're right that this guy was trying to subject or mollify me, but he also seemed to think I was complicit in the whole thing. He was very kind and grandfatherly to me, and when he molested me (it was rather intense, as he tried to go for the kiss several times and kept me locked in an embrace I couldn't get out of) he said that we had to "keep our little love a secret," which was totally incredible to me. Apparently he'd thought that what looked - and really FELT like - a father/grandfather-daughter relationship was in fact a love affair. Then he kept telling me that I had the mind of an older woman despite having the body of a girl. Was that just to mollify me, too? Why did he do this with his wife in the house? It's a waste of time to try and understand it, too...

I'm really disgusted by this whole thing. I wish I had a boyfriend my own age right now. I also have a really awkward thing to admit. A few months ago, I was talking with one of my best friends about how I was feeling really sexually frustrated. I was going through a weird time, too: I'd just had a play produced at the school which for some reason took quite a lot out of me. I got bronchitis. I drank wine to go to sleep and smoked too much weed. And I was drunkly chatting with her, struggling to speak through the bronchitis, and I told her that I felt like I had a ton of very close guy friends, but that all of them found me too strange/intimidating/boyish to date. My friend reminded me of how much success I'd had with this play, and how this one prof really liked it and told me as much, and then I blurted out half-jokingly that I'd consider having an affair with an older man (this is a very attractive professor we're talking about). Of course it was a complete daydream, and I'd never dream of acting on it for millions of reasons - what could I possibly have in common with a man twice my age? There was no real attraction, just idle speculation out of loneliness/a feeling of claustrophobia because of the smallness of my school. But now I feel guilty for saying it, like that statement somehow cursed me. I want to just yell up at the sky and say, "I wasn't serious! I want a boyfriend my own age!"

This has done a lot of damage to my self-image as well. I feel very ugly, like I've got a potbelly and a strange face. All the girls I see on the street seem prettier than me. And more normal. I feel like no man my age is going to find me attractive again. I'm getting those same old worries about my weight and my glasses, etc. The kind of stuff I never used to worry about before. I got this same low self-esteem while my play was being produced, despite the fact that I lost quite a lot of weight in the process. I was humiliated by my appearance and borrowed my best friend's clothes (she is a fantastic dresser) to feel more attractive. The entire school put me on this pedestal because the play went so well, but I lost complete touch with my peers and sat depressively in a psychoanalyst's office while I watched my friends enjoying the midwestern spring.

Ugghh and of course I haven't answered your question. I suppose I'm not sure what I want to do. Should I just get counseling?

Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Only a quickie on this, but honestly, I don't believe that you cannot achieve your writing aspirations based on your gender. I think you absolutely can find the opportunities to do what you want to. I hope you know that as someone who grew up with very similar goals, I'd not BS you about that if I didn't think it was true.

You know, progressive schools aren't all built alike, and "progressive" doesn't automatically mean not sexist or not classist or not limited by some set of limits or another. I think a lot of the time, a progressive school is more about aims and goals of being so, and intent, than anything else. Not saying it's not possible, or that other schools aren't less progressive than yours, just that no school can live in a vacuum, and like every other kind of progressive environment, there are still always going to be blind spots and work to be done. I mean, as an example, I know back in the 60s, my Dad, an awesome guy and very caring guy, earnestly thought that most of the activist movements at the time couldn't possibly have been sexist, something he realizes was seriously blind now.

Point is, no one environment is usually anything more than that one environment, and can rarely represent the whole world or every environment. maybe it's turning out that this one isn't the best one for you; maybe you need to explore some others, and see what they have to offer?

(Of course, given we both know I know where you go to school, and I think you know I think highly of the place, maybe this is also a conversation worth having and getting active about at your school, which I think might be receptive to it?)

You're asking a lot of questions about the psychology of abuse. I'm happy to answer those questions as best I can -- given, the answers will be general, rather than specific -- if you like. Just not sure if you want to really talk about that, or that was more you just letting stuff out out loud. Let me know.

I hope you probably also know that what you said that night had zippo to do with what happened to you. I can say more, but maybe just typing that out exorcised that worry?

So much of what you're voicing here is all very common to feel after going through what you have. I know knowing that probably doesn't make it much, if any, easier, and it certainly can't poof all those feelings and worries away, but it's true. These are some kinds of impact abuses and assaults can have, and you will NOT always feel this way, I promise. They suck, big time, but they are usually temporary, especially when you get some help and support.

I am a big endorser of support and counseling after trauma, like most folks who work in these fields are. I do think a good counselor and/or support group could help you out a lot right now. Are you open to trying it? If so, do you know where to find this kind of counseling and support?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
all_about_eve
Neophyte
Member # 45441

Icon 1 posted      Profile for all_about_eve     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm taking quite a lot out on my school right now because I tend to lash out at the things/people I care most about when I'm in a dark place. My college has truly been a haven to me - it's not perfect, but it's an almost perfect fit. And of course you saw the place - it's the most endearing place on earth (I should trademark that statement). Since I'm moving into senior year, though, I'm getting more claustrophobic and beginning to grow out of the environment. So that could explain some of my frustrations. But of course they're all benign. And I've got friends I can talk to who can help me with this weird gender inequality thing I'm experiencing. You probably met quite a lot of them when you came to speak at my school.

I think it would be nice to talk about the psychology of abuse. Maybe you could give me a sort of model for how this thing works? Also, do you know how female writers can write really dark/complex/engaging fiction and not get tossed to the wayside because they're not men? Do you think it's dishonest to write under initials or a pseudonym? (I think it is, but I'd like to get your opinion.) Also, is it true that men feel threatened by women who appear intelligent or funny? I have two boyfriends who weren't like that, because they were intelligent and funny and I was, too. But now all the guys I meet now seem threatened for some reason. Maybe I'm just imagining that.

Also, how come I feel so lonely all the time? I struggle to be happy for my friends when they share their normal, cheerful situations with me. I feel a lot of jealousy and bitterness. I've been known to flake on people when I'm extremely jealous of how well-adjusted they seem. I sometimes attempt to freak these people out with extreme behavior - nothing too dangerous, just general weirdness. I'm not sure what this means, and how to fix it.

Can you tell me why you think this old man abused me?

Posts: 17 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Can you tell me why you think this old man abused me?
Because he wanted to do what he did and because he could. And that would be the most accurate, big answer whether this had happened to you, or whether it wasn't you he had the opportunity to do this to, but someone else.

Ultimately, the why of people choosing to abuse varies a good deal. Not everyone who does it does so with the same motives or because of the same causes or factors. But these kinds of crimes and abuses are crimes of opportunity. What we know from a lot of study about how people who sexually assault and abuse victims choose victims almost always boils down to the fact that they identified someone who they thought was vulnerable and who they could exploit, and they were right.

I'd strongly encourage you to try really hard to let go of this being about you in terms of why it was you who was a victim of this person. It was you because they were there and you were there, not because there is something wrong with you, because you did something wrong, or anything like that.

If it helps, I find it helpful to remember that one of the biggest commonalities of people who abuse and assault is that it's really all about them TO them. In other words, they are who they are mostly thinking about and considering, if not exclusively. They're not thinking about who their victim is or what is going on with that person: they have tunnel vision in terms of everything being about THEM.

It might also help to know that most sexual assaults and abuses happen at home, be that the victim's home or the perpetrators home. This happening at a home is more common than unusual. Again, this mostly tends to boil down to access and opportunity. Why did he do this when his wife was there? Tough to say, again, since abusers are still individuals. maybe it made him feel more powerful to be able to get away with that. maybe he realized that could give him some cover/protection if you reported him (as in, "But my wife was home, ask her if anything happened.") Maybe he wasn't thinking about her at all so didn't even consider that.

Do you want some reading on all of this?
When it comes to what you asked about women writers and dark fiction, I'm probably not the best person to ask. All the fiction I have had published has mostly been short stories, and while some of it has been very dark, fiction or one gender of fiction hasn't been primarily what I do. But if you like, I could put out an email this week to some friends/colleagues I know for whom that is the meat of what they do and see if they'd mind sharing some thoughts?

Per pen names, I think of pen names and gender like I think of anything else having to do with gender identity, myself. We all get to identify our gender in the ways that feel best for us and most right. So, I'd not put any kind of value judgments on that choice. Instead, I'd suggest you consider a) what feels most right to you, and b) how, ultimately, you want to be known and recognized in the world.

Lastly, nothing is true that starts with "men think/do/feel X," because men are diverse, just like everyone else. They aren't a monolithic group, and what a given man does or doesn't like, does or doesn't feel threatened by is going to vary and, just like for you and me, is likely to be about a whole lot more than just his gender. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3