“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.