Sexual Abuse, Male Violence, and Culture—”A place where the story gets annulled”
by ________Posted on August 23rd, 2012 at 10:19 am
In a bar, with friends, listening to a man I’ve admired for years saying this: “Enough with the sob stories, ladies. We get it. If I hear one more story about some fucked up sad violent shit that happened to you, I’m going to walk. You win! You win the sad shit happened to me award! On behalf of my gender, I decree: We suck!” Laughter. The clinking of glasses. Again the secret crack in my heart. Stop telling.
The first time I saw my father’s specific sadistic brutality manifest in physical terms, I was four. My sister was flopped across his lap, barebottom. He hit her thirteen times with his leather belt. I counted. That’s all I was old enough to do. It took a very long time. She was twelve and had the beginning of boobs. I was in the bedroom down the hall, peeking out from a faithlessly thin line through my barely open bedroom door. The first two great thwacks left red welts across her ass. I couldn’t keep watching, but I couldn’t move or breathe, either. I closed my eyes. I drew on the wall by my door with an oversized purple crayon — large aimless circles and scribbles. Not the sound of the belt—but her soundlessness is what shattered me. Still…
And then later:
I’m trying to tell you something here, but it’s starting to sound like what I’m saying is that I deserved these violences. Let me be clear. I did not. No one does. Ever. But when women tell how it is for them, when they self narrate their ordinary lives, it’s instantly sucked up by the culture—there’s already a place waiting for the story. A place where the story gets annulled.