Monday, December 05, 2005

Justice, Sex, and Weight

Shakespeare's Sister has a post about the 17 year old girl who has been convicted of filing a false report of rape in Oregon.

I'm horrified at the case, and just as horrified, though unfortunately not surprised, by the number of female bloggers that I respect and admire who have shared their stories of sexual assault. Almost every single woman I know has experienced sexual assault in her life. Yes, that includes me, at the tender age of 12, and no, I didn't report it. Who would have listened to me? It was my fault, after all... So I gained a hundred pounds and wore oversized men's flannel shirts and hid behind my hair so that no man would ever want to do that to me again. It worked, for a very long time.

It's interesting that last year, after I had lost 120 pounds and everyone started to tell me how good I looked, I suddenly gained the weight back. Fast. And it wasn't until this summer, actually, that I started to think about why I gained it back that I had a revelation. Even after thirty years, I was afraid. Afraid of myself, and the power sex has over me. I mean, I got over so much; I came to terms with knowing it wasn't really my fault, that sex does not have to be a power struggle, I even learned to trust men again before I was twenty. I thought I was doing well. But since it was my first boyfriend that raped me, a very popular wrestler, two years older than me, for heaven's sake - well, I was thrilled with his attention. He gave me my first kiss, and I was so overcome by fear and joy and wonder and the feelings that flooded me that I literally ran from him, blushing, at the age of eleven. Later, he dated me all of twice, the second resulting in the rape. I enjoyed the attention at first, I wanted him, in that idealistic blind crush that teenage girls have. I loved the feelings inside my own body that he inspired, right up until I wanted him to stop. So now, I discover that losing weight brings back the feeling of headiness, and the fear of my own sexuality and lack of control. It's so complicated. So I went back to hiding mode. Gaining weight to avoid the issue.

Thank God that my husband is understanding, even when he doesn't understand, not really. And that he loves me fat, thin, screwed up or happy.

I'm not even sure, re-reading this post, that it makes sense. It barely makes sense to me. There is so much to consider in any discussion of rape; feminism and power, self-esteem, personal responsibility, differing perceptions of same events. Violence. Inequality and double standards. And that's even before you get to how intensely personal it is to the individual for whatever reason. The one good thing to come out of events such as this is the open public debate. As long as sex is a four letter word and considered as being intrinsically dirty or sinful, these abuses will continue. The more we talk about it the less demonized sex will become, and hopefully those who are abused will be less afraid to seek justice.

I might try to post more on this later, if I can make more sense of the confusion in my head. Feel free to leave your comments.

6 comments:

Shakespeare's Sister said...

Cherizac, your post makes perfect sense to me. More than I can say, but I suspect you already know that, without my having to say it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Reading your story breaks my heart ... sort of known, but never quite so clear. I think your perceptions are right on target -- and I hope we can talk when we're together again face to face. I can't think of anything coherent to say except that I feel so enraged on your 12 year old behalf. And I feel so unbelieveably lucky that my own healing seems so "easy."
I love you little (asbestos) sister.

Jayme said...

what you said really touched me. it made sense to me, more than i ever thought something like that could. thank you for making me realize that it wasn't really my fault, all girls have those feelings. feelings of wanting to be wanted. liking those feelings that are conjured up inside you, but only for a moment. afterwards, you feel like you shouldn't have liked those feelings. we were given those feelings for a reason. of course i never reported anything. i felt i brought it on myself. but they were the ones who were wrong for putting me in that situation. thank you for your post.

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