Monday morning I left my doors wearing a tiny skater skirt. I flung a leg over my bicycle. A guy standing up the street a ways said, “Wow.”
To himself, not to me.
I am old enough that this now seems flattering. I pedalled away, smiling to myself. Such a beautiful day. Around the corner I came along a quiet street in which another man followed me, in his car, too close behind, very slowly for the entire five blocks. It seemed to last for an hour. There were other cyclists on the street. The sun shone on my back and on his bonnet. What ran through my head as I pedalled forward and he kept pace was the conversation initiated by a friend this week in the wake of international outcry from all the women who have ever been sexually molested or assaulted. It has started to feel the quicker process would be for women who have not been abused to come forward. This friend asked, “he raped me”, or “I was raped” – which feels more real?
I could feel the mood of angry unrest and how women were wanting to claim back our active sovereignty. We needed to use the active voice and be less passive. But for me, I felt, it has changed. First ‘I was raped’ was the overwhelming sentence pounding in my brain. It was the change in state in myself that I noticed, not him – he was the agent, he was unimportant in those first moments (which lasted years). Virginal and unknowing, curious and excited about maybe kissing, filled with fantasy and romance, 12 years old in a 17 year old’s body… then rupture. Pain. Overwhelm. Disbelief.
Secondly because his congress on my body and his forced colonisation inside me split up my feeling of myself. It did render me passive. It did render me somehow compliant and I stayed in the relationship with the guy for 9 months, until his threats of weaponed violence woke me up and I had to climb the spiked wall. I was fresh out of a very repressive Lutheran school and imagined I would have to marry him now and have his children in order to redeem ‘my’ ‘sin.’
Now I would relate more to he raped me. He did. I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It was his act. But he carried me under with him.
He went into a career in right wing politics and later switched parties as the first was not right wing enough.