Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
When I was twelve years old, a teenaged exhibitionist confronted me and my girlfriend as we sat by a remote pond in a tiny abandoned quarry in the woods. Never one to consider the body to be something to fear or despise, I was immensely curious, but I was also nervous. I had read that exhibitionists are rarely active in sexual assault (an advantage of growing up reading), but I couldn’t be sure my friend and I hadn’t happened upon an unusual pervert. We excused ourselves and swiftly retreated to a residential area.
Understandably shaken, my friend said we had to tell our parents and maybe the police. I said no. I couldn’t identify the perpetrator whom we had seen only across the pond. But, more important to me, I knew if we reported the incident, we would suffer far more than he would. We would be characters in a joke and our parents would curtail our independence. (We weren’t about to return there, anyway!) I had already learned that in sexual matters, the female always bears responsibility—something about Eve and the apple. (If that young man went on in later years to indulge in sexual assault a report from us might have prevented, I sincerely apologize to the victims.)
Recently, I was disturbed by my reaction to the film A PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, about an accomplished med student named Cassie whose best friend, the top student in school, is horribly sexually molested—while she is insensibly drunk—for the entertainment of other students who look on. Left with no dignity or identity, the friend later kills herself. Cassie drops out of school and assigns herself the duty of bringing accountability—or at least a realization of the seriousness of the human repercussions of the assault—to the many who trivialized the incident. She also uses her chameleon abilities to bring a reality check to other nice men who feel a woman’s vulnerability under the influence is implied permission to use her. (Note: If a drunk, financially secure white man is robbed or beaten, for example, the victim is not held to have asked for it—even if he was alone in a dark alley wearing expensive clothes.)
Although my husband was disgusted by the attitudes depicted in the film, he certainly recognized them as realistic even under today’s supposedly preventative laws. But he wasn’t as disturbed as I was. I tried to explain to him what it’s like to grow up trained to feel like a rabbit in the midst of predators—always on the menu. As we approach the party season as well as government control of women’s reproduction, females know all too well how dangerous the social scene is. Of course, the statistics are worse for minority women, such as indigenous women who disappear in alarming numbers. Women, like members of minorities such as the LGBTQ, racial or religious minorities, know we’re functionally necessary. The society seizes our contributions believing we are here to be used. But we are not universally respected as equal human beings—even by some women who echo men in order to wield power. If we are impregnated, however forcefully, we suffer the consequences. We are the rabbits bearing young that may not be well cared for. Independent, intelligent women are despised as threats. Cassie, in the film, exacts accountability and demands to be heard—which may be what our society fears most from all so-called minorities.