Hump Day: Mid-week Musings

March 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings)

Yes; I am late this week.  There are two reasons for that:  one; I am having a wonderful time visiting Scin [and hanging with her and her son, building family relations]; and, two; I ended up trashing my post for this week because it seemed inappropriate after other events unfolded this week.  You’ll see what I mean if you read on…and, I hope you do. I do apologize to my [few] loyal readers and hope this was worth the wait.

Violations 

I had been planning to write about the humiliations I suffered on my way up north to see Scin.  I felt the need to find some humorous take on the weirdness that was my pre-flight security check at the airport.  I had also hoped, through the humor, to begin some dialogue regarding the small–at least they seem small to me now–violations some of us endure based upon both our appearance and the things we carry with us [metaphorically and literally].  I kind of changed my mind.  But, I do need to form a juxtaposition, a point about the range of violations meted out to women, in particular, and to any people who claim their identity and power in ways that make others uncomfortable. So…

As I went through the process of clearing security at the airport, I had all my stuff ready and on the belt for screening before they were ready for me to pass through the metal detector and move on.  Given the trouble my particular airline has with losing luggage, I had crammed all my clothes and necessities into a smallish carry-on bag–this included things like my Astroglide, my strap and my cock.  I was fully aware of the looks smirked in my direction by the guy at the x-ray screen, but I ignored him, tried to keep a positive attitude, prepared myself mentally and moved toward the detector gate.  I passed through the gate without any alarms and guessed I was on my way to the gate to board my plane.  I was mistaken.

The female attendant at the metal detector stepped in front of me and advised me that she needed to check my body because I was wearing “over-sized clothing.”  I was wearing a dress shirt and a henley, a pair of 501 Levi’s, and–at that point–my socks.  Everything else had gone by on the conveyor belt, including my Harley Davidson boots.  So, there was no metal on me:  we all knew this given there were no alarms when I passed through the detector.  Nonetheless, I was quite ceremoniously patted down in front of everyone.  They did not even pull me out of the line to physically search my body; people were waiting, not so patiently, behind me.  When I say I was patted-down, I mean I was patted-down:  the woman touched me with a purpose and did not miss an inch of me.  I wanted to say that I am usually naked when a woman touches me with such familiarity, but I did not…and I resisted the urge to moan [loudly, just for giggles] when she patted my genitals.

Yes; she checked my southern regions for, really, God-knows-what.   In front of everyone.  X-ray dude was watching, intently, everything she did.  I was the only person I could see who was singled out in this manner.  To add insult to injury, the guy attending me as I attempted to gather my things made me pull all of my liquids from my bag.  He then went over each item while making a disgusted commentary on everything but my toothpaste.  After several humiliating comments, and some expression of discontent from me, the guy kept my lube.  It was a little over three ounces, so he kept it.  Meanwhile, other women behind me got to keep all sorts of things larger than my lube.  I hurried to get all my crap put away and told him to enjoy my Astroglide: “that’s the good shit,” I advised him.  [He was not amused at my implication he would keep it.]  By the way, the other guys wearing henleys, sweatshirts, and the like were not physically searched.  I was alone in the genital patting, breast groping category. 

I felt special.  Not in a good way.

So, I suffered all of this obvious singling-out with as much dignity as I could muster and got myself, quickly, down to the gate to board.  I called Scin to say I was on my way and we were on time.  I fumed over the search and the loss of my lube.  I processed the event throughout my flight, my connection, and the deboarding at Logan.  I am clear about the reasons that persons like myself are a threat to people.  I know why people react to us as they do.  And, I know that most of the time, even they do not know what is crawling, irritatingly, up their comfort zones.  I am used to it.  But, it still fascinates me that being different from the perceived norm, and being secure in the differences–if not proud–gets people so upset.  There are many ways that claiming our power puts people in a funk and produces unusual, if not harmful, behavior.

One of those ways is particularly evident in the perceptions others have of women who project a strong sense of self in conjunction with a powerful sexual presence.  We all have seen the many ways in which this plays out for women.  It is nothing new.  And, we all know–some of you, personally–that it can be much more than simply being seen and treated as a whore, a threat, a thing to be objectified and/or controlled.  It can be a trigger of the worst kind for predatory males.

Let me first say:  we all know that rape is not, really, about sex; it is about power-over, control, subjugation, anger/rage, and all manner of things that have nothing to do with sex…except that the taking of a person’s body–and spirit–in a sexual way is the most effective way to dominate and break a person.  And, we all know that there are many forms of rape.  In addition, one does not have to be female to be raped, nor does one have to be grown.  I am speaking here of a particular kind of rape, a form of what is often referred to as date-rape, that is the direct result of a disturbation in the thinking of a specific genus [shall we say] of the male animal.  [It is true that there are women who also suffer this particular predatory affliction.  But that is another topic.]  

This disturbed world view perceives that women with a powerful presence are sending out an invitation for sexual advances:  that, through their presence and presentation, they are in want of and expect sexual advances, that it is deserved, and even if they resist, they really want the aggressive sexual response from any male with whom they seek company.  It is this thinking that blames the victim after the fact, that says she asked for it and actually enjoyed it.  Underneath the justifications, still lies the disturbed and insecure need to dominate, to take control of, and to put into submission.  This is the kind of rape suffered less than two weeks ago by a very close friend of mine.

She and I had been trying to catch up for a couple of days.  I could hear in the tone of her messages in my voicemail that something was wrong.  I had intended to tell her about the mess at the airport, knowing she would laugh with me, until she began to talk about what had been going on since I left home.  For a moment, I could not breathe very well.  The hurt I felt for her was large, as was my real understanding that there was nothing I could do but listen, hear her, and simply be present in our friendship.  My, often daily, humiliations and violations suddenly fell into their proper place in the scheme of things.  Later, I knew I would write about something other than my hassles at the airport.

I am not silly enough to think that there will come a time where humans achieve the kind of spiritual transfusion that will result in kinder, more evolved treatment of one another.  I can hope for it; but, I do not expect it.  What I do find grossly wrong-headed and unacceptable is that people who have been victimized are still responded to so poorly by those who are supposed to help them, treat them, and work to address the violations they have suffered.  Too often, women–in particular–are treated no better by those responding to them than they are by those who violated them; the initial trauma is made worse by those charged with addressing it.  It is repugnant to me that we cannot find ways to be compassionate and appropriately responsive to victims, in general, and to victims of rape in particular.

Aside from all of this, however, is my growing belief that there really is a link between the personal power a female expresses and the potential for violence toward her from others.  And, I believe more and more that threat to them is a response to some deeply imprinted need to put down, to crush, any strong sense of self that occurs in the context of an equally strong sexual energy.  It puts me in mind of the phenomenon discussed in so much feminist literature regarding the relationships between women gaining power in the overall society and the changing imagery of what is considered an attractive norm for women.  As women gained power in the workplace and the economy, the iconic ideal of women shrank from a heavier, more voluptuous image to a thin, nearly anorexic ideal.  It is a classic expression of the tendency to suppress the power of women in any form.  As we know, it has gotten better in some ways.  I cannot help but wonder, however, if the increase in the ways female sexuality is debased–in music, in iconic ideals, in pop culture, and in aggressive assault–is not somehow related to the growing prevalence of women in power in other aspects of our society.  It is such a complicated set of dynamics and the many facets are too much for this little chapter.  However, here is something that strikes me in the midst of all this.

It is easier for me to count the number of women I know who have not been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted than to count those who have.  The fact is that all of the women I know, each in their own ways, are intelligent, strong, capable–often accomplished–independent women.  They all also, in individual ways, possess and exude a strong sexual presence.  Almost all of them have been raped.  Most of them have been raped by people they knew or were somehow in contact with in their daily lives.  I cannot help but think this is significant.  And, while the kinds of things I endure in response to my particular sexual expression seem small and copeable, they too are part of the same dynamic.  

So, all of this is to say what?  Simply this:  I grieve for the fact that humans harm each other.  I mourn that stitches can be removed and scars will dissipate, but the deeper wounds will be long in healing–if healing comes at all.  I am grateful I can laugh off or quickly recover from the verbal–sometimes physical–violations I experience.  My trials are small, indeed.  And, my pain for those I love is real, but cannot touch their suffering.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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6 Comments

  1. Scintillectual said,

    It is hard for me to know how to respond to this. I go through life thinking it’s been years, it’s over, it won’t happen again and then I hear of yet another woman (and in this case such a close friend of yours) who is living through hell and the demons of the past come to haunt me all over again. I do appreciate your perspective on the subject…I’ve always thought that I was preyed upon because I was weak, not the other way around. I do believe that violations can occur in many ways and to varying degrees and the pain is just as strong in each case. It’s all relative, really. I guess I will just say that I am wholly glad I can trust you implicitly never to hurt me in ways I have been hurt in the past and that you admire my power rather than feel threatened by it. I love you. Always, and in all ways.

    • androgynonamous said,

      I am glad that you know, in your heart, that I not only respect and admire your strength and your power, but that these are also qualities in you that I love and encourage. Your strength of character and sense of self are primary facets of your personhood that draw me to you…again and again. I am also glad that you know how deeply I seek to be part of a healing force in your life and would never harm you as others have, that–in fact–I work with your process to heal all that undeserved mistreatment and disrespect. I cannot take away the things that have brought you where you are, helped shape and make you who you are, but I can openly and willingly participate in your turning harm into growth, hurt into joy, suffering into peace and stronger sense of self. As I have said in many ways, about many things, a large part of my role as your lover is to lift you up, lift up myself and meet you as an equal. Always. All ways.

  2. Blazer said,

    What a powerful piece of writing on a very difficult topic. First, my thoughts are with your friend while she tries to comprehend and recover from her attack.

    Until recently, any thought of rape on my part had been theoretical and political. No one in my family or circle of friends had ever been a victim of sexual assault to my knowing. My only experience had been with hearing the stories of women I did not know personally testify about their rapes at the hands of strangers. My response was to help organize “Take Back the Night” rallies and marches. I worked to change how law enforcement and the courts dealt with the victims of rape and to increase sentences for the perpetrators. While the argument at the time was that too many rapes were going unreported because the victim was to often treated as if they were at fault, at least partially, I don’t believe I had any concept of how many more uncounted cases of date rape there were.

    I share what I perceive to be your frustration. Addressing victims rights, better counseling for victims and tougher laws on rape will never get to the root cause of all of the pain. I too “grieve for the fact that humans harm each other” and that those harmed are mostly likely to be women for what is regarded to be their weakness or their strength.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful sharing here. The “Take Back the Night” rallies and marches were, I believe, an important movement in our culture and were effective in regard to making people more aware and empowering women [victims] to fight back. As you know, studies show that fighting back greatly increases survival and, often, deters the attacker. I wish there had been more of them and that they continued…As well, I wish that the efforts to change law enforcement response, create more effective advocacy for victims, and increase awareness of date rape, in particular, were more sustained and widespread. I am, indeed, frustrated by the overall lack of any real, far-reaching progress on this issue. Largely because it has affected so many women I know. More needs to be done. However, you are also correct in your assessment that improvements in response will never get to the root causes. It is, nonetheless, a direction we need to be moving in…and, I fear, one toward which we cannot stop our efforts. I believe it is like so many ills in our society: the work toward change must be ongoing. We cannot reach a point, because the primary agression persists, where we think we have done all that we could and can rest.

      Having said that: do I have a solution or series of answers? No. I wish that I did. I appreciate, more than you know, your dialogue and your concern for my friend [and other victims]. I always look forward to you comments. Thanks for this, in particular.

  3. FemmeFairyGodmother said,

    It’s taken me a minute to know what to say to this. I’m still not sure I actually do know what to say.

    In parts:

    the airport: I *always* take those things if I’m travelling with a partner. Seriously, there is something about me that does NOT invite being fucked with, though I have no idea what it is. Possibly that I look like a woman is “supposed” to look, so I am nonthreatening to men. Also, I anticipate the lewd remarks and make light of the situation, should someone look at me weirdly or say something. I also recognize that I have been exceptionally lucky. *hugs* Want me to kick someone’s ass for you? I will do it – I’ve been feeling like hitting someone lately, anyway.

    As for the other … well. For years, I told people I was the only woman I know who had never been sexually assaulted. That isn’t true. When the memory came to me – it was at the worst possible time and I completely freaked out. I blame a lot of this on our culture – we are so sexualized and yet so repressed about sexuality that sexual violence seems to be almost a given. I know rape isn’t about sex – but it is about sex. It’s about power and control but what gave these men the idea that sex was something that could be used to degrade women? Exactly – American culture which tells us we have to be sexy to be successful or to have love but then if we ARE sexy, we’re whores who deserve what we get. Women can not win in this situation.

    To have truly effective efforts to send sexual violence, I believe we have to make sex more normal and natural and stop trying to simultaneously pretend it doesn’t exist and using it for everything from selling cars to condemning women.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Well, I must first say: I am thrilled that you wanted to respond to this. And, thank you so much for doing so.

      Secondly, I appreciate your story. I also agree with you. Ulitmately, I think you have summarized one of the points I was trying to make: a real part of the problem lies in our, overall, confusion and subsequent double standards about sex. It certainly plays a role in date rape kinds of situations. And, yes; rape is not about sex, but is about sex–sex, or sexuality, is the gun for the assault bullet, so to speak. At the core, the real problem is the human tendency to harm other humans in a disturbed effort to elevate the self in some way. And, the double-speak about sex, particularly in regard to women, is very real and gives fuel to the problem. It creates the whole madonna-whore syndrome that still exists and still distorts and diminishes women. In truth, it diminishes men as well; it lessens all of us. You stated your position well. [we don’t need me to restate it…so, I’ll stop prattling on.] I am grateful for and appreciate your comments. I hope we will do more of this, you and I.
      On a lighter note. Thanks for offering to kick ass for me. I am quite sure you can. I do pretty well myself…as I am sure you have guessed. I don’t know why the shit at the airport hit me so wrong. I too am long used to the lewd remarks, stares, and occasional violence–I can do some serious self-defense as well as ass-kicking! Usually, I take it all in stride and have a fairly good humor about it. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. You got to figure they see all kinds of shit, right? go figure?!? And, this is the South. Thanks for the humor and the support. It helps.

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