Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yeah, I'm still going to talk about Amanda Palmer's "Oasis"

I went to the D.C. book reading of Yes Means Yes last night, completing what is, in effect, the incestuousness circle of the feminist-y blogosphere (not that Jessica Valenti probably considers me a "feminist" blogger, but no matter). Although I obviously loved Latoya's presentation, Hanne Blank's was the best performance -- and I mean that both literally and completely respectfully -- of the evening. And, at the end, in response to Q&A, she asked the audience to stop pitying rape victims "because it disempowers them again, by putting you above them."

I think, as I supposed I've written more than once and for completely obvious reasons, that this would be an amazing thing. Very little makes me want to stop talking or writing about my sexual assault more than pity. I mean, is this the worst thing that's ever happened to me? It's not even the worst thing that happened to me in 2008. And I would far rather what happened to me happen then what happened to Brian Beutler last year -- I mean, on some level, he was violently penetrated too, and he nearly died from it. And neither of our attackers did or will do any time. But most of our mutual friends (I think we met once, and we were both drunk) kind of think he's a rock star and I'm to be pitied even though I'm the one with no permanent physiological side effects.

Anyway, between what has become my complete obsession with the Amanda Palmer song and Hanne's statement, I decided to try out, again, telling people that I'm the victim of a recent sexual assault. Hilariously, because I have a sick sense of humor, all I got was horrific pity. And it's not like I was crying or being really upset, I was making a concerted effort to tell the story as it happened -- a burglary gone slightly awry, an assault like any other. Someone told me I should have taken self-defense classes. I was like... um, yeah, thanks. Did that. Didn't matter.

Anyway, I've just realized that this is sort of why I like "Oasis." Yes, it's deliberately ironic and about a girl who can't deal with the reality of her situation. And, on the other hand, it's presented as this relatively normative and shame-free experience that isn't going to have this long-lasting effect on what she wants to be the reality of her life. And I guess that I identify with that. Yes, I was sexually assaulted twice in my life. And that doesn't define me or my sexuality. I've seen better days, too -- and worse ones. And I'm not going to let this stop me from being happy about stupid shit.


Shannon said...

Thanks for sharing. Really.

Shannon said...

Now I'm worried that might sound douchebaggy. I just thought this was really powerful and an important thing for those of us who haven't gone through sexual assault ourselves--but want to be, y'know, friends and allies--to hear. You have absolutely no duty or responsibility to speak out but I think it's great that you are.