Response to the discrediting backlashes taking place

I support Larkin Grimm, all of the victims of Gomeshi, Kesha, myself and every other person who has been abused, harassed or assaulted emotionally or physically. I address the claims against Lucy Decoutere and Jennifer Gira’s claims that make the victim into a liar if for whatever reason she could not, on a dime, transform love, partnership or respect into hate or alienation. For the victim wants to believe in the one she has loved or befriended as much as anyone else, maybe even more – because in the desire to ‘undo’ damage, to turn back time, in the exhaustion of facing a new trauma, it may feel as if the abuser is the only one who holds the key to making the event stop repeating in her mind, or stop being real, stop having existed. Beneath this mirage, he holds the keys to shifting the light of the Real, if for no other reason than that the consumption of the other through abuse has just changed the Real, it has broken the social agreement between the two and sucked both parties into the aggressor’s unconscious and fantasy space. Imagine the bright light of the two – two lights superimposed to illuminate more fully (as in more mutually/as in dialogue) suddenly dimming as he switches off the relevance of her psychic reality and personhood and takes over their encounter with only his own graphic confusion; the Real of the two of them in negotiation, in conversation, has been re-made into his interiority, unconscious, fantasy, desire (call it any of these but include the word “aggressive.”) Since he was the one who dimmed the lights and stopped what she dwelled in as the [shared] Real, it seems in that moment, as if he also has the power to turn the lights back on, and in doing so to halt the repeating, disorienting memory of violence. Her need for him to call this halt may be delusional, but it is a mirage produced by psychic exhaustion, after having been used, consumed, expropriated from her own flesh. (However it sounds here, I do not believe that everyone has the same experience, Please recognize that my understanding comes from my own and is only that until others decide to join it in their own forms.)

Apologies can in fact structurally mitigate damages. They are desirable after trauma because they might ease the festering and burning in, the entrenchment of the disposable, unloved en-trapped and en-trashed feeling that later becomes the new structure of victimized being. Why would you, she, me, we not use whatever methods possible from love letters to lofty declarations, to angry statements made in the vernacular of the struggling unconscious, made in hope or in fear or in shame, made under the shadow of control to avoid these feelings? Why would we not? Because we are expecting a lawsuit? Really? Rape is an instrument of war that produces mind control by shooting the bullet of hate into the intimate space of love, destabilizing and disordering its target.

What does the victim desire after being raped? What I wanted first was to make the rape to have never happened, or to have been something else. I searched desperately for a truly viable, emotionally explanatory re-description not of the act, but of the motivations behind making me feel the things I was forced to feel for years. What I wanted was for trauma to be something else, something for which the healing would not take years, something that would not be a twisting set of constant disabilities, or scar my life.

Some people stop talking to the rapist after being raped. Other people can barely integrate that the man who did *that* was the same person who they had embraced, worked with, or loved days before. “Come back here and make it stop!” stated with sugar because there is no hope of getting this apology or acknowledgment or moment of confrontation or truth unless he feels safe, flattered and loved is not in any way unreasonable. For if that moment could be achieved it would be worth more than any legal showdown or victory. It would be worth the value of years or decades of life. The delusional desire to undo abuse is what abuse produces, and why it is such an effective form of control utilized by militaries.

I have more to say about this but I wanted to say something now.

Responding to the Eviction

Rape is a hate crime. Rape is an eviction of the agency and being of the other. Rape is an attempt to permanently confiscate the power, desire and trust of the other, to destroy her capacity to bond with other people, to feel comfort with others or in herself. The rapist burns the exceptional nature of himself into the disposable victim. He steals her life. I have felt evicted from my own skin, shrinking in fear from memories, disgusted by desires, turned out from the world and disallowed from living.

I have procrastinated writing this for 3.5 years. In its current acute form, I have procrastinated for weeks. I have been extremely triggered by the Jian Gomeshi accounts. The lawyer who tells the story of having been manually penetrated painfully and forcefully moved me to a particularly long stretch of crying.

I was handled and consumed not as a person but as a resource. I have felt my body tensing and crouching; my muscles constricted and retracted, turning painfully in on themselves. How is it not clear that gendered forms of assault prove that the man-woman relationship is an echo of the colonial encounter?

3 years ago, I attended my father’s funeral with my boyfriend at the time who was a Quebecois bass player named Jean-Yves Theriault. Coming off a tour with his band Voivod, he was on a massive ego trip. He strongly reminded me of a dog in a junkyard who searches continually for signs that he is being worshipped. We had almost broken up at that point. On tour he had expressed desires I found frightening if not revolting. He contained them by saying they were only fantasies he would never enact, and I need not be made nervous by them. He convinced me to let him join me in NYC for my father’s wake, in part as an attempt to stay together.

During that weekend, Theriault decided that he did not want to be there at the funeral or in NY and that his attendance should be looked at by me as a favor. He held court with my family carefully explaining to them how famous he was. When they were not around, he verbally abused me.

Several hours after the funeral, we went back to the hotel room. He took a shower. From there he yelled at me aggressively, something like 5 times, commanding me to get in with him. Each time he called me in he seemed angrier. Feeling destroyed and disoriented as a result of my father’s death and the wake that day, I got into the shower to avoid further damage. As soon as I got in Theriault attacked me by violently and painfully thrusting two fingers back and forth multiple times between vagina and anus. He did this knowing that I had refused to “mix” sides in the past, in a fear of debalancing PH and contracting severe candida – an ongoing problem for me which we had discussed many times. He did this knowing I despised sex in the shower because I have multiple spinal fusions and find the standing up position exhausting and painful. He approached me without affection and without permission after many conversations about how sex for me was about emotions and affection rather than mechanics. His tone and attitude were violent, cruel and frightening. I was in shock. When he patted my ass in much the same way as the rapist in the film Irreversible, a film he had forcefully recommended as his favorite film weeks earlier, I understood that he was intentionally trying to give himself the rape experience. Despite the fact that my body had been closed to him the entire time, he had his penis in his hand and was trying to fit it into my anus.

I got out of the shower first and got into bed. He got into bed a few minutes later and resumed verbally abusing me. I wept all night while he slept.

He had at another time, 3 months earlier, refused to stop anal sex when I had asked him to because it was hurting me. As a response, I decided to take an aid from the bdsm community, despite the fact that we were not having that kind of relationship, and I asked for a safe word. He refused to give me one. He acted like my request was a joke. I implored him for at least 6 hours. Just as daylight was breaking and I was beyond exhausted and getting ready to kick him out of my apartment and never speak to him again he said “Of course! Did you ever doubt it? If you say stop, I’ll stop.” That kept me in a relationship with him. I thought I had won a battle.

My regret that I did not leave then is overwhelming. Still that occurrence 3 months earlier did not leave me to expect what would happen on the night of the funeral.

After the wake in NY, I wrote excuses for him. I tried to ignore and forget what happened for several days, until I no longer could. He seemed to enjoy having pumped me full of toxic rage, and watching it twist in me while he continued to do and say things to test my breaking point. I went out of my way to imagine that what happened was a misunderstanding, a nervous breakdown he was having around death and loss. I tasked myself with a number of sympathetic scenarios. It took me months to face what happened, and finally confront him.

When I did send him that email, he dismissed it and tried to say I was lying, until I recalled the details to him. He sent me a 1 sentence apology.

My situation is not exactly like the victims of Gomeshi. Gomeshi probably never had a loving or affectionate sexual encounter in his life. Unlike Gomeshi, Theriault decides which women are whores or one night stands, and which are girlfriends. Before me he had long monogamous relationships with women. Before he went on tour, he was capable of affection. He still spoke with contempt of the (sometimes very young) women he had screwed, describing them as groupies. He spoke with pride about how badly he treated them, as if it confirmed how desirable he was. He tried to enlist me to speak badly of them, holding as bait the status that I was above these other women. I sometimes wonder if my refusal to accept the role of making fun of “fat” or “ugly” women was part of what destabilized my position with him. I speculate that while he was on tour and being worshipped, he decided to change my status from girlfriend to disposable object which, in and of itself, would have been unpleasant enough. But in order to make this transition, he needed to demonstrate his contempt to me with violence.

I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD. I had always considered myself a strong and resistant person. But truly the phoenix is a myth. The durable woman is a lie. These constructs are like machines placed in us so that we keep deluding ourselves about what we can or should be able to handle. We are encouraged to confuse feeling desirable with feeling durable so that narcissistic abusers retain a supply of punching bags.

I have been asked if naming the rapist publicly will help my state of mind. I think of how triggered I have felt talking to a lawyer or a therapist about it, and how those efforts made me have to re-live the events and made me feel worse. Even being in those offices made me feel terrified that I was imprisoned in a realm where broken people try to fix life, and that I would never return to inhabit a life I was trying to live. Even though my concept of “life” is more complicated that I am making it out be here, trauma brings its own vision.

I answered the question like this: it’s not just that silence protects abusers. By staying silent I would feel like I was passing to other women the one who had inflicted my suffering, and in doing so I would be continuing to spread trauma and fear. I cannot continue to accept the unacceptable or live in a state of inertia. And although it is terrifying to think about going public with details that feel private to my body and life and also traumatic, it has to happen. By not naming the person who did this, I am still protecting him. I don’t want to live in shame or hiding. I want to live with the freedom to speak the truth when and where it can heal or make an offering to others. I want the barriers of the one who tried to control and implant his nightmare into me out of my path. If there are any consequences for him, those are for him to deal with. I hope others will have enough inner stability to come forward with their own stories so that we can create a common space and not cower in fear and shame. I believe that coming forward offers perpetrators the ability to grow by facing the consequences of their actions, and gives them a gift far more valuable than whatever prestigious lies they cling to.

For those who want to support and respect my wishes, the ease of my professional lives and so on, I would prefer to remain anonymous for whatever conversation follows from here. But I am doing nothing to conceal my identity or make it difficult to discover. I am prepared to meet whatever will follow for making these events transparent.

I don’t want a special, safe place to talk about rape: a therapist’s couch, a lawyer’s office, a support group, with my best friends. I want to talk about it when and where I need to and give all the detail I need to. I want all of us to be able to do that – because the spaces we traverse should not feel borrowed from people who own them. These spaces should be ours for the time we inhabit them just as much. If it is permissible to broadcast naked women’s bodies via jokes, descriptions of desires, advertising and songs and media about sex and women in public space without consequence – to broadcast the interior life of intimacy made commodity for a public, then we should be equally at liberty to broadcast whatever we need to about our traumatic experiences. So many public spaces already put women’s insides on display. I feel far more “safe” talking about rape than I do talking about sex at this point.

We live in a society where Black people are reasonably afraid to walk down the street. The same cops that gun down and also verbally and physically abuse and harass Native- and African Americans also rape women, don’t bother sending rape kits to labs, don’t give justice to women, and continue violence against victims. Women of color, transgendered and queer women are much more vulnerable to police violence than straight white women. And that list should include recently immigrated and undocumented people and those who are physically and/or mentally disabled. I could (and probably should) go on. But the issues are not limited to the police. The question is about who we can trust and who has liberty throughout the social world: in intimate and daily life. I request that we think about the police “within” the self and the entire structure. I feel that even in the best case scenarios of successful achievements of resistance and social change, the current white/alpha/male monopoly on justice and liberty are likely to continue to return if all of these layers do not get thought about together.

Further Thoughts: Trying to Comprehend the Rape (Again)

The first time I saw the boyfriend’s rockstar ego trip, we had been together about a month. He was playing in a collaboration at La Sala Rossa, a venue in Montreal with a Spanish restaurant downstairs. At dinner with everyone he started pushing my jaw and head around really aggressively with his hands, and telling me how to eat and chew in a menacing way. I was taken aback. I noticed the whole table had gone silent. Everyone else sitting there seemed embarrassed for him. I playfully punched him in the shoulder as if to defend myself. I made some kind of joke I can’t remember. I wondered briefly to myself in that silence of the people we dined with, a hurdy-gurdy player among other collaborators, if they were seeing him as an abuser. Most of the rapist’s band wasn’t there in fact. 2 of the members had declined the invitation to dinner. I remember that the guitar player had wandered off, and those that remained were from this story-telling project that was incorporating the rapist’s band and songs. I was worried that these people who were professional acquaintances might be taking what I thought must be a wrong view. When I punched him kiddingly, it broke the tension and everyone laughed. But his behavior confused me.

I went home early that night. I expected him to be out all night. But he showed up 30 minutes later yelling manically about how in love with me he was; how he feared I would make him quit the band. His notion was a projection; I had zero interest in preventing his creative life.

The next time a couple of weeks later that I saw this terrifying side of him again, he was coming back from this “rock cruise” in Florida. He droned on and on about “the hot Swedish journalist who all the guys wanted to fuck.” He never talked about her intelligence or skill as a journalist. He showed me photos of her, and kept talking about how sexy she was. Apparently she had refused friendship with all the other men, eschewing them as somehow sleazy. She had chosen him.

What is ironic is that she was supposedly impressed by the fact that he had a girlfriend his own age. It seemed that I had been used as a seduction tactic for another woman, not a sexual seduction per se, but as some kind of lure for being chosen above the other men, an idea that was very important to him. On the grounds of him being with me, this woman actually believed she was having a friendship with him. But behind her back, he was interested mostly in her body, sexuality, appearance, popularity and maybe her youth.

What was particularly horrifying to me about this were his intentions. At first I resisted the bait being thrown out to make me feel jealous or threatened. I engaged him about it. He had also been making misogynistic comments about “fat girls in bikinis.” It seemed relatively less disturbing to talk about this “hot Swedish journalist who all the guys wanted to fuck.” But he used that exact statement many times. He did not stop talking about her. After 2 days, I was very upset. I couldn’t understand what he was trying to do or say. I suppose maybe I could have understood if he felt insecure enough to try to convince me of his desirability. But there was more to it than this. Only after I was really furious and panicking he told me that he had thought it would be fun to see if he could make me jealous. At least later he admitted it was a dumb idea.

And truly it was. For anyone reading this who has not reflected on what abuse is, let me clarify that his intention to produce jealousy made it difficult for me to trust him. For instance, in precarious states of relationships, while one partner is on tour, or if other instabilities occur, a kind of hall of mirrors opens up: I didn’t know if I was being simply overlooked or neglected, forgotten or worst of all, intentionally hurt – or which of these was the cover story for the others. And if your partner is performing and existing for a mass audience, you have to fight the feeling of being reduced into the alienation of being one of the crowd. I can feel these things about the other even though I also perform music publicly, albeit for smaller audiences.

It’s an act of kindness and generosity, and a huge effort to keep the feelings of alienation, distance and distrust under control. If your partner mocks this harrowing effort, or undermines and demoralizes it, he can create a feeling of despair and misery. It feels that much worse knowing that your partner thinks it would be “fun” to produce these feelings in you.

When the rapist finally returned from tour, he strongly implied that he’d had some kind of a fling. That was a few weeks after the night that he had lied about it, which had taken place during the days right after my father’s death.

But the thing is that he neither lied fully nor did he fully tell me. And because he wouldn’t come out and say it, it became impossible to process or deal with anything. But neither would he stick to his lie so that I wouldn’t have to think about it. It seems that he deliberately trotted out this ‘something’ as a move to emotionally upset and control me. He didn’t want to let it drop either: it didn’t work when I tried to change the subject.

I maintain that he knew exactly what he was doing: that he was *trying* to hurt me somehow.

We’d had, in the past, a detailed and explicit discussion about how it would be better not to tell the other about infidelity; that it was one’s own responsibility, in his view, to shoulder one’s own guilt. ‘To have an affair feels bad in a relationship, and you should deal with it yourself,’ according to him.

As I eventually took the bait and asked him about it, he grilled me about whether I’d had an affair. But there is no way that if he had thought about me for 1 second, about the things I had been going through and been talking about, that not only was me having an affair beyond unlikely, but that I would have told him instantly had it happened and if he had really wanted to know. He accused me of lying anyway.

To give an idea of the timeline:
On May 8 my father died. On that day I left my father’s bedside in NY to attend an 18 day symposium at Banff.
Around May 16, the boyfriend disappeared from skype and texts and I’m pretty sure he either had that fling, or was having some kind of conversation or thought process that was de-meaning to me somehow. Whether or not he had sex with someone else was not very important to me (and I think that I had purged this demon in myself was disappointing to him.) But a lack of emotional loyalty and his callousness toward my situation, the strange, removed, but demanding way he was acting towards me, mattered a lot.
Around May 20th, he returned from tour. He was quite annoyed that I was not already in Montreal and pressured me many times to leave the symposium early. He also stated that he had no respect for academics, for the conversations about culture, economy or affect that we were having, and had no problem insulting my interests.
May 26th I returned from Banff. He texted me that night at around midnight, saying that he was standing in an alley way and was horny and that he wanted me to come over immediately. I was totally shocked that he had chosen that approach. I could not understand it. I felt disrespected and obliterated. I told him I would see him the next day.

In that last week I was at Banff and he was ending the tour and heading back to Montreal we started to talk about breaking up. I had already told him that the way he talked about sex was becoming increasingly horrific for me and that I did not feel that he had respected my emotional experience or boundaries. Finally, I told him that if he could not handle the intense state that I was in that we should break up. In the process of that very emotional conversation we both decided that we were not ready to end it. Still I felt that I did not want a boyfriend who could not be present for such a major emotional event. I wanted him to have the emotional capacity to support me as a committed partner at the funeral or I did not want him to come to the funeral. I felt that if he did not have the capacity to be with me in a sincere way, that I did not want to be his girlfriend. I did not want to be a mother taking care of a child, especially at a time when I needed to be nurtured. I was very specific about all of this. I told him that I would not respond to him for a week so that he could think about it by himself and figure something out about what his capacities for love, commitment and support were.

After a few days, I started receiving text messages from him every few hours. He wanted very badly to stay in the relationship, support me, and to come to the funeral. He asked me many times whether I had bought plane tickets.

As I’ve stated in The Rape article, I did not want him to come to the funeral as some kind of relationship trial. I asked him to come only if we were serious. I had no desire to invite someone I would be parting ways with so deeply into my life. I hadn’t seen my family in 10 years. There were about 5 close friends in NY who had offered to come to the funeral with me. I was resolved to bring 1 person, but I wish that person had not been him. I cannot state how many times during that weekend I wished that totally insincere, checked out and controlling sack of flesh hadn’t been there and that I could have enjoyed the support of any of my other friends. I felt that way even in the 2 days before the rape, even as I got in the car and he acted so shut down and self involved during the drive to the Burlington airport where we would catch our flight.

In the hours before we were supposed to leave to catch the plane, he asked to not go. But it was too late. I couldn’t re-arrange the plan by then and he was responsible for driving us to Burlington. I was very annoyed because I had asked him to be sure many times.

The result of his request was that I felt insecure all weekend because I was made aware that he didn’t really want to be there.

On the last night, hours before the rape we went out with one of his friends and two of mine. He suddenly realized that he could make a creative contact out of a friend of mine. I didn’t get jealous because I had promised him earlier that I would trust him, and because my distrust of him was an ongoing point of contention. But not since the beginning of his tour had he seemed to remember this distinction between emotional trust and some kind of possession of the other’s body that I had so carefully laid out for him. And I was far too preoccupied with grief to really think about it.

On the way back from seeing them, he told me my friends were “too good for me,” and about how he wanted to bring my friend to a festival he was curating. He also said that he wanted me to be part of the collaboration (which was her suggestion), but only because I was his girlfriend; not because of my talents as a musician. He made it clear that he was impressed with her but that I would only be dragged along. I was somehow able to write this off because I wanted to believe that we were on good terms. I told myself that he was just particularly excited about her, and tried to remind myself of positive things he had said about my work at other times. I was not thinking we would break up right away, but I was not completely happy with him, and I assumed that if we did, we would remain friends or on some kind of peaceful terms. With the impression I was trying to maintain of him before the rape, I did not mind the idea of him joining my community. But, again, I had no idea he was going to rape me. I was unhappy with the way he was acting and I was blaming myself for it, thinking that if I just trusted him more as he had requested, we could work anything out (a friendship or some kind of respectful parting) at the emotional level.

It’s much easier to blame yourself than it is to blame the other. I really think this is at the heart of the abuse cycle and why women remain in abusive relationships. When you blame yourself, you believe you have some agency over what is happening. You may think to yourself, ‘I just have to change my approach or strategy, or I just have to remember that there are certain things I cannot say, clothes I should not wear, ways I should not sit or eat; I just have to try to trust more.’ It becomes possible to believe that the ‘I’ can make it all better because the ‘I’ is being blamed for the mistake. How deeply this runs depends on how deeply you have been consumed by the relationship, and whether other life events have made you vulnerable. I was the perfect candidate for abuse when my father died, and the rapist knew it. He knew he had control over me. He wasn’t content to torture me himself, he had to also bring my friends and family into it, and to use them to re-structure my confidence so that the reverberations of torture would be left behind after we were no longer together. Maybe he was gambling on the idea that I would feel too disempowered to talk about what he did.

A few days after the rape when I started to lose control over the narratives of denial, I was excruciatingly angry at him. But then I contained my outburst by apologizing for myself and my anger; by acting like it was my problem. Because again, if I felt that I was to blame, I also felt that I could change myself and control what was happening and make the abuse stop. But I was slowly realizing that I could not change him, and that the conversations we’d had about his bad behavior months earlier had not stuck. He had been hiding himself from me for those months that I was useful to him. Then he saw my friend and quickly realized that he could use her to hurt me, if not as an object of jealousy then as a measure that would make me feel inadequate in some other way. My interpretation is that he quickly convinced himself that I was redundant and inferior and that he would use me to experiment with the fantasies I abhorred before splitting. I had become disposable, he thought he could get away with anything, and he did not believe that I would be confident enough to confront him after he had finished working me over.

I have several further interpretations about what led to the rape. As I’ve said before, I believe that he was on this kind of anesthetizing ego-trip. Praise is a very seductive drug against the pain of life. It becomes possible to hide in press releases and visions of the self as perfect, superior or impressive in order to not have to feel your lower back hurt when you crawl through an attic at work, or when you remember 20 years ago defaulting on a loan from your ex-girlfriend’s father, and then mocking her for crying at the family table to get the money you would benefit from. I don’t know if he thinks about the horrible things he did to other people. But he certainly thinks about what they did to him. The drug of superiority could be crucial for managing any of that.

I think there’s more to it too. His father and guitar player died young. That was the first thing he told me about himself. It was how he bonded with me. Right before and after the rape went down, I thought he couldn’t handle death. I understood his real or fabricated tour fling on those grounds. But I was careful about bringing him to NY because I realized that he was not fully emotionally in control. But it never occurred to me that he would do to me what he did.

That said, I believe there was a catch 22 happening. Had he not gone to the funeral and we had broken up earlier, the break up would have taken place on my terms. He would have been admitting to a personal inadequacy. I do not think he would have been comfortable walking away branded as ‘not good enough.’ He decided instead to go to the funeral to prove himself. But he excused himself from all of the terms of the funeral I had imposed by telling me at the last minute that he did not wish to go. During the weekend all emotional terms became his. As he held court telling my family about how famous he is (because they had no idea and only ended up finding ways to compliment him out of respect for me and the desire to be accommodating and polite), he revised the system of what was central and important at the funeral. Just by being there, Mr Famous was doing me a favor. He turned the weekend into being about his new collaboration with my friend who was, according to him, “too good for me,” and he further got rid of the experience I was having of my father’s funeral.

I do not think he could bear the idea that the relationship would end on my terms. His prior girlfriends had broken up with him, and he was on a new superiority trip since them. He had to prove he was above me.

Most troubling is that I believe he raped me because he wanted for the ending to feel unresolved; to create, in fact, a traumatically unresolvable ending. He knew from discussions we had many times, that nothing makes me feel crazier than lack of resolution (though this had happened in the past on a much smaller scale.) He knew from how I had described my past relationship that I would pursue him in order to resolve the end somehow. He also knew that he himself would not bother to resolve, but that it would make him feel infinitely superior and desirable if I were to try to contact him as he made himself increasingly inaccessible. I needed an apology to deal with this unfathomably evil thing that he did; I needed and wanted for him to acknowledge how horrible it was. But he reconstructed my needing to get in touch as my desire for him, and used this interpretation to make himself feel superior, desirable, pursued. His attitude towards me was demanding and flirtatious. The message was that if I were charming I would be allowed to have a “date.” He seemed to claim that I needed to perform for him, even while he grilled me repeatedly over whether I had a new boyfriend. It was sickening.

As I speak to other survivors of PTSD, trauma and Gulf war syndrome, I understand that the events after trauma are crucial for how trauma gets implanted and how it sticks. For instance: were you to run to a safe place after your house is blown up, you might recover better than after wandering homeless for days afterwards.

As it turns out, my desire for that apology and resolution was an incredibly healthy instinct. It was my desire to reduce the impact of what had taken place. But the rapist did not want to reduce the trauma. In fact, in the one time I saw him again, he sat and espoused how he did not love me and how much I annoyed him; simultaneously he told me how badly he wanted to fuck me. It was the most horrific and confusing encounter. I tried several strategies for letting him know that I would not have sex with him, but that I did need to have a real conversation. In the end he only wanted to give me what I most definitely did not want: sex. When I walked upstairs from the street on that horrific night, I flipped out for hours. My body temperature plummeted. I got hives that lasted a week. I was hysterical and thought about suicide. I felt like I had been raped again. I have no doubt that he either went out on a date afterwards, or went home and jerked off.

After many attempts to get together to confront him over the months, I resorted to email confrontations. He barely responded. About 15 months later, I wrote to his band and asked them about what had happened on the tour bus to make his attitude towards me become so abusive. I had a brief exchange with the wife of one of the bandmates who was not on the bus, but whom I want to believe understands something about the truth of what happened.

Not one of the band members ever wrote back to me to say that I was somehow incorrect or that on the tour bus they had only ever witnessed me being talked about as a beloved girlfriend. How could they? I had already witnessed enough of a discussion in which only my body was relevant. With their silence, I became increasingly certain that what went on behind my back was abusive. I’m guessing the rapist’s conversations tried to involve his mates by getting them to participate in some kind of violence against me. At first they offered to get a manager to manage me. But even that didn’t happen and the line went dead. The rapist wrote a lame and meaningless few sentences in English that was too grammatically correct to have come from him. But there was so little substance to it that whether or not he composed it himself was irrelevant anyway. It seemed like another strategy.

In addition to the comments about my ass and the circulation of the photos, here are my grounds for believing that I was talked about in a horrific way:

The rapist loved to tell the story (among many others) about how one night on tour, the 4 of them were drinking beer or having dinner. They had a petite waitress and they were trying to guess her height. Apparently the rapist yelled out “I would fuck her even if she was a dwarf!” According to him, they all found this incredibly funny. They sexually harassed a woman at work, and possibly terrified her because there is nothing more frightening and horrible than a group of men talking about you like that. The rapist acted disappointed when I did not laugh at this story of sexual harassment.

Many men who get famous young treat women badly because they have power, especially over girls, that they never learn to be responsible for. In other stories the rapist laughingly tells, he has sex with 16 year old girls and insults them. He describes being excited to have had a promoter in Russia offer him sex workers as payola, describing them by the color of their hair. He tells a story about a woman who lost her virginity with him, but that he dumped after a week for her best friend.

He doesn’t have any respect for the bonds between women. He doesn’t respect our lives or our psychic realities. When he gets attention for music, he becomes dependent on being superior and he will sacrifice anything or anyone to maintain his self image. His band mates are exempt from this because he needs them. When he is not inside the rockstar delusion of being a god, I’m guessing the girlfriend then becomes indispensable, as I was for most of the period before that tour.

That said, I am guessing that he is being hyper-vigilant right now, and that maybe the whole band is as well. I’ve watched with disgust as they’ve pulled a stunt with a disabled kid, plugged a song that tries to cover up for their racism. I’ve listened to women compliment how great they are. I’ve seen him display a very ignorant kind of fondness for Pussy Riot that I speculate would make those women spit on him. I’ve watched him try to emphasize various forms of “care” and pc on his fb page with a new interest that he never had before I confronted him. And I strongly suspect that my accusations have protected his girlfriend from getting raped and thrown under the bus, as he performs the “good man” and tries to beef up a personal reputation. I’ve written to the band to let them know that I will hold them accountable if there is a second incident. But until I get some kind of guarantee I can trust, I do not see how I can take the pressure off. And he has given me no reason to believe that he understands either the medical or emotional ramifications of what he did to me.

I want to add that I’m not being selfless here. If another woman were raped by him, I would have to live through my own horror all over again.

There is a side of me that wants very badly to out who it is so that women can proceed with caution around him, and use what I have written to identify the warning signs. On the other hand, I don’t want to tie my identity to his; I don’t want my name associated with him. I don’t want my musical life as an underground artist broken through, repressed, reconceived or in any way steered by a mainstream performer for whom I have no respect or affection. If there were material “benefit” from any notoriety that association with him could cause, I would want to reject it. Even when I went out with him, I ignored his proposals for getting me agents or contacts, emphasizing that his audience would not appreciate my work. I never told him about the people I know or have worked with, or tried to impress upon him or persuade him that we in any way shared a musical world. The only time I seriously thought about working with him and desired to do so was when he was talking about including an artist that was part of my aesthetic community, and in an emotional context in which he was manipulating my emotions.

To have my work associated with him, or to become known as the woman raped by him, would hold my life back by giving him a symbolic control over it. I fear it would somehow, symbolically or otherwise, lock me in the very abusive relationship with him from which I seek freedom. I cannot get rid of what the rape did to my life and that is why I write about its imprint. Writing is an attempt to move towards freedom. I want my work understood on its own terms.

I write about him to try to understand because neither he nor his community gave me that. I hope all of them know that I can never forget about what happened because the trauma was too unparalleled and deep, and had too many lasting effects. But until it is made clear that the rapist, and all of these men involved, understand what I am talking about, I am unable to let this go.

I will choose carefully whether to publicize his name.

The Rape

I don’t know whether to be thankful that I saw this or not:
It’s a discussion about several med students who protest doing pelvic exams of women adults while those women are unconscious. I read it and remembered that I had an abortion decades ago. While the general anesthetic was taking effect and I was getting drowsy a team of med students came to my table. The smiling doctor noticed I was awake and said “You don’t mind if they observe, right?” After that abortion I had terrible pain in my bladder for almost a year. I had to go on prescription anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the irritation so that I could function. I was told that it might be an effect of the abortion itself (which I believed for years), until more than 1 obgyn told me it was impossible. It felt like I had a balloon swelling in there 24/7 and my urethra itched and burned painfully. Eventually over the years, I got through it. When I have a yeast infection it acts up intensely. In those instances I can’t sleep or lay still or put my legs together. I just cry on and off all day because I’m so uncomfortable. In the decades since the abortion I’ve only had a few relapses, and only one of them was extremely protracted and severe. It took place after I got raped in 2011.

The 2011 rape:

The rapist went back to front multiple times (anally and vaginally) and quickly with his fingers. He was extremely rough. The level of toughness took me by surprise and it was almost impossible to come to terms with while it was happening. It felt like he was trying to pry me open to fistfuck me, which is something he had verbally fantasized about beforehand (among other rape fantasies I did not share), as he turned into a violent misogynist while on tour with his band. I had expressed being completely disgusted by his extreme fantasies. In fact I have never had a rape fantasy; every last one of them no matter what it is, is rooted in consent. I don’t know if that sounds unusual, but it’s the truth. Even the roughest of my sex fantasies have always had a consent conversation working out the terms in the beginning. And even still, I’ve always been clear that I’m not interested in enacting even my own fantasies. It’s a huge act of trust even to let the other know about them. The most I can say is that I have loved intense passion that is consensual, and maybe some tough talk that was clearly framed.

I was clear that I found his ideas horrifying. But I believe that he had talked about ‘sex’ with me with some of the guys on the bus. (I believe this because he circulated naked photos of me against my will and made objectifying comments to me in front of them.) I believe that he got caught up in the dynamic with them and wanted to feel macho. I believe in doing so he completely altered and distorted the relationship he had with me, making it seem like he could do “whatever he wanted.” I believe that it made him feel macho to talk about me in this extremely degrading way that intensified as I began to grieve the passing of my father. I believe that talking about me like this had the effect of distancing him emotionally so that he didn’t have to feel the pain of separation, which he cried agonizingly about during his first 2 weeks away. Maybe he used violence to deal with separation anxiety somehow. But I also believe that he raped me in an attempt to maim my psyche and destroy my body. I believe that he wanted to make sure that I would remember him at any cost.

During the rape my orifices were uncharacteristically small and closed the whole time. Since the time of that abortion, I’ve disliked manual penetration except under very controlled circumstances. Though the rapist was my boyfriend at the time, he had never before penetrated me manually. I had also explained to him that back to front penetration de-balances PH and thus produces yeast infections, and that for me yeast is a crisis. For 11 months after the rape I was brutally uncomfortable from the physical symptoms I described above. But in the beginning period right after, I was relatively numb and could not feel much in my body. I tried to imagine that the rape did not happen and I went into denial. I tried to make love to other men, to tell myself that I had to keep going, but eventually I had to realize that each attempt was fraught with flashbacks that turned me cold, and that any kind of penetration and many forms of touching and nudity were no longer enjoyable the way they had once been. That entire set of experiences, from the rape onwards, the way rape has effected the way I experience, haunt and control my capacity to desire. 2 years later I am now fully shut down.

I can only think that the rapist chose to rape me on the night of my father’s funeral because I was emotionally overwhelmed and out of it. The night before the rape I had a wound on my foot that I had *not* noticed was deep and bleeding. He noticed it; and he gave me a weird look. I think he started calculating that he might have some minutes to get away with things I hadn’t permitted before I realized what was happening. He, like the obgyn world, assumed that if I couldn’t feel, was distracted and out of it, that my permissions became irrelevant.

On the night of the rape, he called me into the shower 5 times. Each time he yelled to me to get in was more aggressive than the last. In my emotionally overwhelmed state, I felt terrified that he would lay into me, fight with me, or go on a rant of further and harsher criticisms. I finally got in the shower with him to avoid verbal abuse; to keep his voice from escalating frighteningly. He had already gotten mad at me in the past for rejecting him sexually, and seemed to find himself charming for being demanding; what he proudly referred to as having “high standards for women.” I knew I couldn’t reject him without him either getting more turned on and thus more aggressive – which had also happened in the past – or getting mad and punishing towards me if I made too strong a case. When I wasn’t responsive enough, he grabbed my fingers and tried to shove them up his ass, but I was grossed out. My hand was limp and fell away without entry. I kept turning my body around to break his access to me, but he kept stabbing me in whichever side became exposed to him. I tried to embrace him in order to re-humanize him and us; to try to take the alienation out of the act, to remind him that I am flesh and blood, but he threw my arms away so that he could get better access to my orifices.

I actually had no reason to think that he would even try to have sex in the shower. The night before I had reminded him that I hate sex in the shower, when already knowing this, he (strangely) asked me whether I wanted to take a bath or a shower. The shower encounter (upright and against walls) hurts my back – I have 11 fused discs in my spinal column, disc degeneration in my neck andlower back and arthritis in my neck – and makes my muscles spasm. After accusing me of not bathing enough, and criticizing me during the funeral weekend, telling me I was “disgusting,” his choice of approach in the shower was insulting and humiliating. When I confronted him later, he seemed to actually believe that using a threatening voice to make me get into the shower, to have back to front (anal to vaginal) penetration roughly and multiple times despite me having expressed my dislike and anxiety of this, and to actively refuse all forms of embrace or affection constituted “sex” rather than rape. He overlooked also the fact that when I tried once again to embrace him after this horrible encounter, to try as a therapist put it “to get control over the situation,” he pushed me away and told me once again that I smelled bad.

How does he possibly make the case to himself that this was consensual? Because he believes that ‘rockstars’ are allowed to do whatever they want to women?

I wonder how he has made the case of his innocence to other people as well. The night before the rape he told me about what happened at his brother’s funeral. I was trying to understand why his verbal abuse was particularly stark and obvious, why he seemed aloof and like a stranger for the funeral that he begged to attend, after I made it clear that if he was at all ambivalent about me he should not go further into my life. Instead he kept me busy trying to adjust to the emotional vertigo of being forced into extreme intimacy and extreme loathing/contempt ridden distance at a moment’s notice. It’s hard to describe what all of that felt like layered over the recent death of my father.

In fact the rapist kept demanding that I make myself increasingly more vulnerable to him. But then he would slap me down with insults, horrified by the vulnerability that he had requested. And even at the moment he attacked me, I thought to myself, “this man is very disturbed” and “I can’t believe that this is actually what he wants to do.” So I tried to introduce a reminder that I am human: I tried to hug him. But he unwrapped my arms and threw them away so that he could get better access to my orifices.

When he told me, prior to the rape, that at his brother’s funeral, his brother’s widow had attacked him verbally, saying that he never did anything with his life. I wanted him to feel better, believing I had cracked the code for why he had been behaving so badly. I asked him whether her comments had anything to do with him, or whether what she said could be an effect of mourning and loss; even perhaps a resentment of him that he was standing there alive though her husband had died. As I was saying this, the rapist gave me the most bizarre look. It was not comforting at all. It scared me. And I can’t help wondering if it was then that he started thinking that he could get away with anything that weekend, and chalk up whatever my response was to me being in mourning.

Of course I don’t know how he renders that night, and I may never. But between the hauntingly strange facial expressions over the gash in my foot and the ‘widow-in-mourning,’ I can’t stop wondering to what degree he planned the rape.

When we broke up a few days later, he came to my house and said “There was no abuse right?” But he didn’t say it like he was asking me. He said it like a mantra, as if to use the power he had over me, not just by having manipulated that vulnerable space of the intimate with violence, but also by having witnessed the friends and family of my prior life, the foundational moment of my father’s passing; by shaking hands with the people who haunt my psyche. It felt to me as if he took all this power I had given him in love, in addition to power he had taken from me in violence, and used both to get me to repeat after him, so that I would become a zombie stuck in the charade of life where violence doesn’t happen, repeating mechanically after him.

Truthfully, I’m not proud to admit this, but if I could have lived in that charade where violence is denied, I would have chosen to. It just so happens that I could not. And as the remaining 4 days of the relationship dragged out, and during the period after in which he contacted my friends, he increasingly did things to demean and exploit my life, to expose himself to me as an abuser; as the pain in my body lingered, I had to come to terms with the irrefutable and material reality that what he did to me was a profound act of violence.

I wonder how he talks about this, or what guilty men (or women who are apologists for such men) help him write alibis, figuring they might need the same done for them some day. The men who cover up for rape must themselves feel very guilty for their own abuses. To those men, I propose this to you:
Come to terms with what you have done and stop it. Do not excuse others. Instead of excusing, stop them and stop yourself. The entire matrix of patriarchy – from nonconsensual pelvic exams of unconscious women by medics-in-training to verbal insults to rape – needs to see the kinds of wounds it leaves and stop pardoning or denying them. To the women who pardon and salve these men: you are not helping them; you are participating in the cycle of violence.

The cycle cannot be changed solely by the oppressed victims. The perpetrator must come to terms for his actions or nothing will change. The best people to make him see what he has done are those closest to him; those most likely to behave the same way.

Help us and help yourselves so that we can all heal.

This world of mechanical sex and the reduction of the woman’s body to an instrument does not leave men immune. It is only a matter of time until the violence that is done to women is also done to men. In fact, histories that are not made public show that this has already happened.

Below are outlines of the domestic violence cycle. Look at them and ask yourselves: how much do you fit?

“Ugly”: more thoughts on rape

The after-effects of rape are immediate and material and constant. My
sense of self and beauty got poisoned. I hate myself for letting that
person ever get near me. I cannot describe the loathing I feel for
him, or how much it hurts to despise. As an adult who has battled and
struggled against violence in myself and in the world, and carefully
changed myself, tried to keep my eyes open in the face of pain to do
so, I am sickened to find a war zone now located at the center of my
life experience. The war zone of the world was already enough. I never
chose to be personally victimized.

I am human; I have hated before in degrees as a younger woman, but the post rape
hate is much deeper, more physical, and far more dis-empowering.

Let me emphasize that on a beautiful being (of any gender), any
physique could be charming, endearing or itself beautiful. The flesh
can be lit by the beauty of empathy, honesty, openness,
generosity, or it can sit inert as a selfish and cruel imposition, a
sack of corporate toxic waste. I think of the rapist and his acts and I think
of the Gulf Oil Spill pouring endless toxicity into the living world.
It is a massive irony that this ‘Big Man’ calls himself a lover of
animals and the environment. To look at a photo of him is to feel ill.

Let us imagine for a moment that all the misogynistic language women
have had to endure, all the comments about our ugliness – judgments
about our bodies and expectations that we should be perfect – let us
imagine that these are all projections. The “spurned”, the “hag”, the
“toad”, “the fat bitch”: these cannot be statements about physical
beauty because there is no such thing. The physical and the
metaphysical cannot be separated. It is only by dint of the lies and
agendas of corporate media that a twisted eye has been surgically
implanted in all of us; and with that surgery came the fear of both
vulnerability and the flesh; an entire reality of what John Berger in
the 70s referred to as the formal and owned “nude” that obscures the
vulnerability and the love of the “naked.”

Beauty is not a physically attributed phenomenon. That Cartesian idea
ignores the entire psychological landscape that conditions what it
means to be human. If you love only physical beauty, it is because you
have not made it out of a maze of corporate advertising for a
sustained enough period to connect with the real people who have the
potential to create you all the time.

I ask the reader to imagine that misogynistic insult, repudiation and
rejection (the abjection misogyny creates in its objects) twists human
need into corporate need; the corporate fetish for the able-bodied or the consumer of mass produced props of appearances. I would argue that
the corporate system targets men, who are generally a higher paid
population, and more likely to be sustained on their own wage, to be
convinced of their role as masters. It invites them to desire to
“hire” women to be underlings in the man-woman unit, and to call this
love. But whether men or women, porn and fashion advertising (among
other things) train the viewer to see other bodies as disposable
labor, ie *as bodies at that viewer’s disposal.* The failure to reject
this imposition represents an ongoing ethical collapse. It may appear
relatively harmless by itself, but I ask you to sincerely consider the
scope and breadth of the effects of perpetuating this violent cycle of

The blind following that has occurred with so many male members of the
patriarchy is spiritually bankrupt. It is a genocidal tendency thinly
veiled by the alibi of sex. In permitting the role of the master, in
accepting these tenets of colonialism, these men are the truly ugly.
The language of the “hag” or the “fat” or otherwise imperfect for
women as sex objects is a projection by men who wish to be their
masters. But it is these spiritually ugly men who are themselves the
hags who should be spurned. They are low and disgusting toads in
belief and in action. The standards that should be in place for their
behavior are submerged and distracted by the regulating and
controlling aspersions they cast at the appearances they twist onto

Let the language of misogyny be reflected back on these men. For it is
they who dreamed it by continuing to permit the colonial tenets. Let
these men understand that it is they who are psychically deformed and
hideous, not the flesh they speak of.

The man who raped me is a physically unattractive and embarrassingly
macho musician who hates himself and manipulates and lies to other
Let me preface my description of him by repeating: people of all kinds
of physicalities can be beautiful. None of us need
perfect hair or a corporate ad body, or to fit any mold, perfect or
imperfect. But *his*
toothless mouth, thinning/balding hair and sagging gut make him look
to me like the worst of all mistakes. His is not a human face dotted
with beauty marks, but a toad with liver spots. On him (and only
on him, because of who he is and what he has done), these are now the
signifiers of a deformed and misshapen eyesore:
the definition of the hideous. A man who rapes without remorse is a
revolting hag. If he criticizes the appearance or the body of the one
he rapes, it is a projection.

It’s painful for me to judge the other’s ‘look’ this way. This is not
a lens I choose; not a way I would wish to see or evaluate anyone. But
as I grieved my father with the unavoidable chest-heaving gravity of
my experience, that male hag listed all the ways he found me
“disgusting,” using that exact word. He had a rolling itemized list of
woman-hating criticisms describing in detail how everything about me
stank. This in the context of physical violation (inflicting sex acts on me I had explicitly deplored, and on the night of my father’s funeral) has left me cursed
possibly forever. But like the sci fi story of the loathesome enemy
who keeps returning, the most precise way to meet his vicious gaze is
to hold up a mirror that will reflect
his toxicity back to him.

I have been told that I am at liberty to disclose who raped me on my
blog. But so far I have chosen not to because I am ashamed of my
association with someone so ugly at every level. The erotic power that
the spiritually ugly person holds can be greater than the power of
someone with enough recommending features to make their own case. In
the beginning it felt excruciatingly compromising to have to rescind
the compassion I had for someone in so much pain and misery. But it
was another kind of self-betrayal to have cared for someone so

There are so many physically, mentally, creatively beautiful people I
could have chosen. I have lucked out in my life with invitations to
love. That luck has not changed. But I cannot act on it because I now
hate myself, am uncomfortable in my own flesh, and feel sick when
anyone touches me. My own capacity to masturbate has been contaminated
with his toxicity. 11 months of the physical after-effects in my
vagina did not help anything. But even now that has cleared, my
ability to trust or relax (among other things) has been hobbled.

Life is love. With regards to love we are all composed by
industrial society in some way. But the toxicity of rape is different,
extra, and extreme: the difference between drinking chlorinated water
with trace pharmaceuticals, and being forced to drink saturated toxic
chemicals; the difference between having occasional joint problems and
being an amputee. If intimacy, sex and other people become terrifying,
love becomes impossible – and life becomes unpleasant.

I only forget about the rape or the triggers of it when when I’m
crunching numbers in my head, or fantasizing about a creative project
or something abstract and disembodied. I’m happy when I think I’ll be
alone forever. But I’m often lonely and I then wonder whether to try
getting involved again. In that case, sometimes when I am speaking of
love for hours alone with someone and a possibility emerges, the panic
attacks begin. The last time I kissed someone, I cried inconsolably
for days afterwards. A recent flirtatious evening with a gorgeous
person I had a crush on for years left me feeling suicidal and
overwhelmed. Truthfully, I am more relaxed when I accept the decision
that I will never have sex again and that this part of my life has
been amputated. (Though I am sobbing as I type this.)

Often the attacks come as episodes of crying or nightmares. The last
time I saw the rapist my body temperature dropped to freezing
afterwards (in the middle of Summer) followed by a rapidly spreading
allergic reaction of hives; the Summer following I returned from
Montreal (the city in which he lives) on almost the same day of the year to end up in the emergency
room after puking and blacking out with dehydration, diagnosed with
“gastroenteritis from stress.”

These effects of rape are real and material and life-hobbling. A man
who intentionally raped and traumatized me walks free, pretending
these events did not happen, perhaps even pretending to be happy and
innocent, and definitely
not acknowledging what he caused. What do you think: Is he a man or a hag?

My father’s obituary

I feel a sense of belonging when I read my father’s obituary. It’s as if the act of reading and re-reading itself promises to restore the lost feeling and the lost moment; the fragile conditions that initiate mourning. When my eyes pass over the words, it lets me live for a minute in the fantasy that what took place around his death had not occurred. It restores a kind of silence, or experience that the bond could have peacefully slipped away without being drowned out by noise, cruelty, violence. When I cry while I’m living for a minute in this official rendition, it actually feels relatively ‘wholesome,’ or less sick than what I have had to endure in that time and in these 2 years (and still counting) afterwards.

There is, of course, formidable pressure to pretend that the violence that took place did not happen. For instance, a whole army (the violator’s army) stands ready to vaporize the reality of the event using a myriad of tricks with time, language, normativity, disbelief, myths about women, but most of all the desire for him to not be the thing that such actions describe. Their silence towards me and their attitude of business-as-usual mobilizes these strategies without taking any responsibility for them.

And I too need to seal the wound, which makes me wish that much more that I could forget. But I cannot vaporize what happened. I am extremely nauseated when a memory hits me. A million triggers make me choke. Several times a day, some kind of voice asks “How could he have done those things?” “Why didn’t he just leave?” “because I was ambivalent about continuing a relationship with him?” (I now wonder if it is dangerous to be ambivalent with or about men or to question them.) “Does he comprehend the effects of what he did yet?” “Does he get it?” “Will he do it again?” “Do his supporters understand that by believing whatever it is he says to get off the hook, that they do a great disservice to everyone,” “How can they all live in a reality built on lies?” And then again “How could he have done that?” This is a cycle that never fully shuts up in my head, not until at the end of the day when I collapse exhausted.

My relationship to sex and to the body has changed. My physical chemistry has had to accommodate 11 months of physical pain, and years now of mental torture.

But when I read my father’s obituary and think of his passing as some kind of event that I am stably and indelibly *within* in that list of daughters, whether or not I was torn out of the experience, the nausea subsides for a few seconds.

It may seem somehow pathetic that a flat text has to be milked because full experience is too painful. But in my condition, this tiny alleviation feels like a kind of gift.

More on Rape

Rape is not a question of personal life. There is tremendous social pressure to make women endure atrocities by telling them that those abuses are merely personal. To destroy someone’s life and sexuality is not simply a “personal” transgression. The rape trauma takes the victim out of social circulation by isolating her with fear, anxiety and misery. If anyone goes absent from the collective of social life, that collective social life is changed.

Rape can be seen as a human rights question. Classifying rape in terms of “family law” or “domestic violence” does a terrible dis-service to women who have been raped in the relationship setting. We should all have access to life without fear of being sexually abused and hated at the intimate non-consensual level. Rape is a hate crime. If your boyfriend rapes you because he’s stoned and/or he just wants to “see” this or that, he is not respecting or validating your humanity, right to live, feelings, and being. He is insulting and diminishing you at the most visceral level possible. Rape is an attempt to slaughter your will and desire to live. Perhaps life does go on for some women after rape. But try imagining who you could have been without it, and without having to worry about sexual abuse in the future? And not everyone’s life goes on after: it depends how violent the rape was, whether the rapist treated the victim as a human later (apologized and so forth), or any number of other things that may or may not help repair, restore or further damage the victim in the aftermath of such an act.

Here are a few facts I have learned that I believe everyone should know about many states in the US (and, for the most part, Canadian) rape law:
1) Rape is rape whether or not the perpetrator is your spouse or anyone you have had consensual sex with before. If you did not consent to what the person did in a particular instance or instances, then it is rape.
2) There are many ways to express non-consent besides explicitly stating “no.”
3) There is no statute of limitations on rape. If you have ever been raped, you can press charges at any time.
4) The legal system offers different options to get a perpetrator to face consequences. It’s not an either/or choice like his jail vs your silence, though (jail for him) could be an option.
5) Despite the fact that I have outlined (above) the strengths of the legal process, the legal system is stacked in favor of men. The police force is run by men. A lady police officer, born professionally in this establishment of aggressive men, is just as likely to try to convince you not to press charges, albeit using a more calming or pleasant approach. She also might not tell you that rape is not under the authority of the police, and is a different kind of crime. Most women won’t know that they probably have to go further up the food chain in order to press charges. It’s also extremely difficult to become informed about your rights. Attorneys have different interests, and *many* will try to intimidate women (as a reflection of their own psychologies.)
6) Men who rape almost always lie about it. Some who are more sophisticated may choose a different apologetic strategy, and that may or may not be helpful to the healing process. But the apologetic rapist is rare, and the apology might not be enough for the victim.
7) Falsely reported rapes do very occasionally exist. Their number is hugely exaggerated. I believe that sometimes women will retract a rape statement in order to try to back out of the public side of the aftermath experience or out of fear retaliation (or have other reasons to backpedal.) I have never seen anyone try to study false retractions, but I cannot see how they do not exist. Either way, the number of un-reported rapes is *enormous* compared to the number of false reports.
Let us make a network of mutual support so that we can publicize and take legal actions when it is our right to do so. You may be a man’s first rape victim, but it is unlikely that you will be his last.

I wish for a society that is equally free for women, where women do not have to put up with constant objectification and sexual abuse (so much so that sex, fashion, film and music industries try to convince us not to see abuse or to even ‘enjoy’ this abuse.) Power relations are neither part of “human nature” nor are they present in all societies. Maybe some day we can re-think sex as a collective on more human terms, outside of the purist/porn dyad that has been shoved down our throats in different ways in this epoch (*not* “since the beginning of time.”)

Some day dialogue and community interactions may be enough to create broad scale shifts in thinking and acting. But at this time the most effective resource women have are legally punitive ones. If it’s only through the legal threat that those who fail to consider the life of the other will abstain from the violence that follows extreme narcissism, then that is the weapon we should pick up. All of the same tools for fighting all the other social battles apply to women, and apply to the as yet un-dreamed possibility of our real shift away from the very serious condition of sexual servitude that every act of rape, and the denial, tolerance or acceptance of it proves.

The idea of the ‘personal’ is a lie. The feminist projects of the 70s and 80s have met with both smear campaigns from the Right as well as completely fake and insincere forms of support and tolerance on the Left, and among liberals and media makers. Let us not be afraid to use whatever tools we have available now as we learn together as a collective how to forge new ones.

Rape, privation and the Music Industry

One of the lines that I think needs to be drawn in the music industry relates to wealth, desire and subsistence. There are classes of musicians, for instance, who rarely get paid, whose work is undervalued, and who have difficulty making ends meet. But there are also musicians who drag huge rigs across continents, whose production costs are insanely high and who then act out a sense of deprivation when they only make basic living costs at the end of this. It is one thing that these ‘stars’ who compare themselves to bigger stars complain about privation. The entitlements they expect to receive as compensation – from their non-industry contexts – are quite another.

Before Amanda Palmer caved into pressure and decided to pay her volunteer musicians (the sum of which is still unknown), she also described how ‘everybody getting laid’ (not an exact quotation) was part of the reward of performing. Presumably, in the absence of being paid, these volunteer musicians would cash in on their own increased attractiveness brought by the stage/’spotlight’ and get sex. But does anyone think about what ‘getting sex’ means in this context? Who are these vague groupies who will screw any famous person, or anyone producing a likeable sound in a visible context? What are we assuming about them? To me it seems clear that a group of fans are – or *someone* is – being out-sourced to reward musicians for their work where payment is not present or not enough. The effects can be devastating. And though it may happen in the reverse, this scenario strengthens the classically violent attitude of men who feel that women “owe” them sex.

Payola in the form of sex workers is another issue that relates to the idea of exploitation in the context of music. My boyfriend of 2011 described being offered sex workers as perks during tour. I thought he was simply joking with me when he described this, playing with boundaries in an irresponsible way – classically understood as ‘trying to get mommy to react.’ But if considered as a real phenomenon, sex workers being offered to musicians describes a condition in which women are employed to reduce the costs of paying musicians, to restore their masculinity, or to convince them of their desirability in the absence of an appropriate fee.

My personal interest in this set of issues has been augmented by the fact that this now ex returned from tour and raped me. He is the only musician I’ve ever been involved with who was confused enough to believe in and invest in his own hype to the degree that he does. That makes him an extreme caricature of what I am trying to outline, one whose behavior is descriptive. Most musicians toil away for modest amounts of exposure. Hyper-circulated musicians – those big enough to crowd source for volunteers or have groupies (in the past or present) are abusing the discourse of the musician’s privation when they use it to make people pliable for their entitlements.

This rapist said multiple times that he “can do anything he wants because he is a rockstar.” I assumed from this that he was in pain over the musician’s privation (making my own mistake of confusing the two classes of musician.) I thought he either felt pathetic or was joking. But it turns out that he actually believed in this psychotic entitlement. He also coerced me by saying “don’t reject me.” And he strongly suggested that I was responsible for re-empowering him against the feeling he articulated as being the “industry’s bitch.” I was supposed to make him feel like the master again, and to never reject him. These manipulations held the implications that I should be sexually available to him either because he was entitled, because I was supposed to be the one to restore his masculinity, or that I should “never reject” him because his uber status made him above rejection.

(What I am describing here are merely some of the events leading up to the rape and not the rape itself – which I shall describe later.)

That said, I do not believe that financial success would have stopped the man who attacked me from his behavior. I believe it would make it worse. Because the one who uses these tools so readily will only get worse, as in more entitled, with more power.

I am not saying that all rockstars are rapists. I am saying that what is involved with being a rockstar makes sexual coercion into an even stronger possibility. I am saying that the rockstar is a perfect location for a rapist. And I am also saying that the rockstar model feeds this abuse phenom in the world at large, in constructions of gender, in the way that the man-woman relationship and other hierarchies, particularly spectacular ones, are lived.

For the whole idea of the “groupie” produces exploitation. The groupie represents the idea of a person from whom a performer can take “whatever they want.” Consent with the groupie has an implicit status. The person I was involved with lamented that there are no groupies anymore. Yet it was clear that there was still a power relation he enforced with me to receive a kind of attention that he had come to expect from a prior era of performing. He attempted to use me, his girlfriend, to fill this function. As the “good” girlfriend, I was supposed to empower my boyfriend against that which made him feel weak, and help maintain his enjoyable feeling of privilege that he should be allowed “to do anything,” or that he was totally above the limits and morality that constrain other people. I had felt sorry for his debasement on tour. I did not understand until after he raped me the degree to which his manipulation of the idea of privation – claiming the entitlements of both the unknown and the celebrity musician which are there for the celeb musician to take – was personal, social and political; that it was not just an act against women but an act against a broad field of musicians who struggle for dignity, subsistence, and a voice against people like him who use professional recognition to avoid being human.

This connection needs to be thought through a lot more. I hope others, especially those on the receiving end of this violence, will join me in thinking about this. I believe that star systems and personality cults are recipes for violence, and gender violence in particular.

The first stage of speaking up about rape

I just finished reading a personal account of rape posted by Molly on her blog:

Her experience closely resembles mine. I initially started this blog so that I could describe what happened, to alleviate some of the pain of choking on silence. I’m still not quite ready yet to give all the details. But my response to her is a beginning:

…My story is extremely similar to yours. I was raped 18 months ago on the night of my father’s funeral by my boyfriend of 6 months. I had very similar reactions to you afterwards and tried somehow – by any means I could think of – to “work it out” for the same reasons that you describe so articulately. In my case I broke up with him after only 4 days and refused to sleep with him again. But I was willing to do or say almost anything to get an opportunity to confront him and make him listen. The rape had broken me down to the lowest wrung of myself and made my dignity and self-respect dependent on his restoration of it. And then, it seemed also that he had additional contempt for me for me being too wrecked to be able to generate my own dignity after this act, and as a result of all the abusive and coercive things he said and did leading up to it.

The man I was involved with is a rockstar, who had become horrifyingly arrogant while away on tour, describing fantasies he knew I would find revolting, and violating many different kinds of boundaries I had fully articulated to him. During the lead up period, he was apologizing. But for the rape itself, he gave me no more than 1 sentence on email. In fact, he used all of my attempts at dialogue as opportunities to abuse me, to change my status from girlfriend to groupie or sex worker and treat me as if I were beneath him.

As in your case, there are all kinds of phobias, limits and non-permissions I had made explicit throughout the relationship that he specifically violated on the night of the funeral/rape. He also used guilt and coercion on many occasions to try to make me sexually available to him in ways that I had stated I was not comfortable with. Like you, I now believe that he fully intended to abuse me and that he had spent the relationship “grooming me” for rape. He stated many times to me that he believed he “could do anything because [he’s] a rockstar.”

I have been devastated, unable to grieve my father without re-experiencing this trauma, and stuck in the maze of trying to understand how he could have behaved like this. My sexuality is destroyed, as is my trust in my own judgment of other people. For the months prior to the rape, he said many things to suggest that he had a positive, liberating and gender sympathetic view of sex. I had previously believed that he was a thinker and a supporter of feminism.

I also agree with you that rape is not a mistake or act of passion. I too tried to convince myself of these things because as you said so well, it’s so much easier to believe that your boyfriend made a mistake than that he raped you. I agree that rape is a political act to control women; to silence and dis-empower strong, outspoken, thinking people who pose a threat to the male-dominated establishment. The kinds of women these particular men chose as their targets is not an accident.

I thank you very much for your account. You articulate so clearly. That these events could have occurred proves that if we remain isolated, we have no power.

Actually, a typical thought from last month

Today’s manifesto 🙂 Perhaps it’s obvious, but I feel it needs to be said (again) that industry music is like high fructose corn syrup for the mind. Music that is too perfect, made robotic (without intention) and produced, slips through the body like confectioner’s sugar, both toxic and too easy. There are no exceptions. The spectacle manipulates us. The stadium (from rockstars to presidential candidates) turns those who listen into Echoes of Narcissus. (The desire that dissolves us is more nutritious in less manufactured places.) We live in a regime of violent narcissism that trickles down. How do we break the spell? What do we take into our ears and bodies that will shrink the objects of trances? We have criticisms in circulation of economics, from Wal-mart to fast food. But the correlate effects of the spectacle, from all medias to sex, need further attention and from other angles. I wish we could begin to move away from the control of intimate space. For me, that means abstaining from, or using only with the utmost emotional caution, things like cinematic sex, performativity and porn, and most importantly resisting the evaluations of self and other on the material terms that these things generate. I actually believe that, more than anything else, primordial emotional responses can hold within them the power of creativity and vision. But the knowledge of feeling is not immediate; it is slowly made known to the self in an ongoing process. Without that process, self reflection also becomes a commodity. It is not necessary to be a total puritan about any of these things. In fact, I think that too feeds the cycle.