cleaning out the closet: writing about rape and crazy

I am often afraid, when I write or speak the word ‘rape’, that the word will define me. Upon so doing, I fear, I become a cheap, whiny, weak victim with less intelligence and power than those who are privileged to use the word theoretically. To the unraped I sometimes become an other who is small, broken, and hard to look at. Immediately suspect- manipulative, insecure, unsafe;  socially unfit and necessary to shun, like I’d just laid on the floor and showed my belly.

This has, in fact, played out numerous times. From some people I get hypersympathy, as if they failed to weep for me I’d fall apart in soggy raped chunks and muss their shoes.

God, I hate talking about rape. Doing so reveals more of people’s asses than I really wanted to see.

So why do I write about it? On the internet? Or start a whole anthology around it?

Because it’s stupid to tip-toe around and suppress personal discussion of an enormous world-wide problem. “Rape happens, yes! Just not to us or anyone we know.”

The simple truth is that it just happened. Like sixth grade happened. Like my first adult tooth happened. Like childbirth happened, or graduating from college, or going on my first awkward date with a cute gay boy a foot and half shorter than me with a shared affinity for the Offspring. I was raped. It happened.

And I want to talk about it like I talk about sixth grade, or dating, or dental transitions. A fact. An event of my life that shaped me, that is part of who I am.

Not the apocalypse. Not the unwanted touch that made me untouchable.  Not the ultimate victimizing event that broke me forever. Just a significant event, one that I can discuss at the doctor’s, at a writing workshop, in a work setting, at a bus stop, or in a piece of writing.

To me, the ability to- of my own volition- speak and write freely, even casually, about the facts and events of my life that mark me as “other” is one of the strongest defining factors of my liberation.

I am not a confessional writer. I’m a writer that fucking refuses to swallow certain topics as too taboo, too shameful, too revealing to discuss.

And so I’m debuting with a book about rape and a book about being a revolving-door teenage mental patient.

And when I’m done with that, I’m taking on the bear. God I can’t wait to take on that bear.

2 thoughts on “cleaning out the closet: writing about rape and crazy

  1. In a workshop I took, I learned that when you are vulnerable and stand exposed before another person (groups, etc..) , when you take off your mask(s), you are in your power and others will see that and respect you more. When I was told this theory, I didn’t buy it, because I believed that the more vulnerable I became, the weaker I appeared and the more I opened the door to get stomped on. It was a proven fact, as far as I was concerned. Now I see that people fear another’s vulnerability because it IS power and not weakness. This makes others uncomfortable, this is perhaps why some might find you ‘hard to look at’, or to bear witness to your stories and struggles. Not because you are small, but because you are quite the opposite, and that is a threat to their own smallness and unwillingness to grow. That is why people squash others. This is the lesson I’m learning in my own life right now. It’s a colossal lesson. I can’t believe how blind I have been to it this whole time.
    I look forward to reading about the bear. I saw a grizzly yesterday at the zoo, btw, inches from my face with only glass between us. It was pretty goddamn amazing, all of us standing there were breathless.

  2. TT, this is so powerful. Thank you so much for the idea of “the unraped” — what a way to address privilege, silence, and shaming/victimization. Can’t wait to submit some work to Fresh Meat. All gratitude for your strength and work here!

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