sexual assault

That time I got Trump’d

Dubai.

When Teacher realized he would be unable to attend the festival, he told the organizer that one of his students was coming alone, and asked her to look after me. Which she did; not her fault I have a gift of finding myself in awkward situations. I told Teacher: he was happy that I was making friends and having a good time but, “Be careful, Vanilla. These guys can be trouble.” Which guys – there are two dozen instructors & DJs here? Trouble? What kind of trouble? Am I at risk of being drugged and date-raped? Finding myself arrested at the border for unwittingly smuggling cocaine? Having my identity stolen? Please elaborate. “Just trouble. Stay alert. Be careful around them.”


Last day of the festival.

At the end of the night, the festival photographer wanted a group pic. I clambered on stage so that I could be seen above the crowd. A few ppl climbed up with me, including a dancer called GLTW (*). As the photographer snapped away, GLTW came and stood behind me, pressed himself up against me and grabbed my ass – two solid handfulls, with a big squeeze for good measure. Not an accident. I tried elbowing him, discreetly, not wishing to cause a scene or disrupt the happy group picture. As soon as I could, I shoved him off of me, and gave him an withering look. GLTW laughed and smirked, before sauntering off.

Now. Butts are kinda public property – they get brushed accidentally, or not so accidentally, in public transportation, crowds, clubs… it happens. GLTW’s behaviour was inappropriate, definitely, but I did not feel violated. Merely irritated by his presumptious behaviour, especially since I’d had almost no contact with the dude: I had not danced with or talked to GLTW all festival.

After-party later that (very early) morning.

Energizer and I flirted away, outrageously. I was leaning against a table, and Energizer stood between my legs and the banter was lewd and hilarious. Soon after Energizer left, GLTW walked up to me, right between my legs, in the spot Energizer had just vacated. “Hi” and grabbed my crotch. Palm up, I could feel his fingers on my vagina, separated only by the material of my panties and the jumpsuit I was wearing.

In silence, I knocked his hand away. “No, but really?!” Once again, he smirked, “what?!” and walked away.

Just like that my enjoyment of the night evaporated. I sought out FroMan, and stayed close to him for the rest of the party, trying to absorb his safe, calming energy. I pretended to watch the beautiful sunrise over Dubai, smiling to cover my mild nausea. I took a shower when I got back to the hotel.

The next day, I quietly told Energizer, Sunshiney and FroMan what had happened, so they could warn any of their female students attending any future festivals where GLTW was present. Energizer was disgusted, FroMan looked grave and silent, and Sunshiney was outraged, “Why didn’t you punch him? If I had been you I would have yelled his ears off, that cocky bastard!” Yes, but you see, I am Vanilla, a nameless beginner dancer. Had I caused a scene, he would have denied it, and with his reputation as a rising star in the dance world, this would be a tiny blip in his career, forgotten immediately, whereas I would be branded a drama queen, forever held at arm’s length in any future dance festival. Should I, could I, have punched him? Maybe, but what purpose would that have served? I just would put myself at risk of being punched back since he clearly does not abide by the gentleman’s code of conduct. No. The only alternative for a nameless female nobody, alone in a foreign country, is to be quiet. Suck it up, because the costs of speaking up are not born equally between the alleged aggressor and victim: the costs would be mine alone.

It took me days to forget the feel of his strange fingers against that most private part of my body: the part I’ve shared only with a select few people that I’ve trusted to handle that intimacy with care. It took me weeks to stop feeling guilty, wondering if I somehow demonstrated cowardice by not publicly shaming him. For the endless dialogue to stop: what was it about me that made him feel that was ok – I wasn’t drunk, I hadn’t displayed lewd behaviour on or off the dance floor. Oh wait, that’s silly, that’s the same argument as “she deserved to get raped, she was wearing a mini-skirt”. This isn’t about me, its about him. But really tho, I do wonder why me?! Am I being dramatic? Maybe this wasn’t a big deal, maybe I shouldn’t care so much. Maybe it’s me. It took me months to accept the proper term: sexual assault.


While the world reacted to Trump’s twitter fight against Mika Brzezinski, actual real news was happening. The Supreme Court upheld part of the Muslim Ban. I get it. I get that we need to prioritize and fight the most pressing issues.

But.

I live in a world where pussy-grabbers like GLTW feel vindicated: afterall, the most powerful man in the world boasts of the same behaviour – and the WORLD REWARDS HIM. It is no wonder that, instinctively, I know there is no point in speaking up when I get assaulted. The evidence of that pointlessness has been in office for 5 months.

I feel defeated. I write this to remind myself I have a voice. Just that: a voice. When the world implies I should be silent, having a voice is a tiny act of courage.

I wrote this post about sexual assault back in October 2016. All that rage. Its burned out now, replaced by hopelessness. That is his legacy.

(*) GLTW = Good-looking Trump Wannabe

Disclaimer:

That Dubai festival remains one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I will always encourage anyone to visit the city and attend that festival. Furthermore, to his credit (?) GLTW’s actions occurred after the end of the festival, and must not in any way be associated with what was a wonderful event filled with lovely, kind, generous ppl, talented instructors & DJs, and many many new friends. One bad apple does not make the whole thing rotten. Isn’t that so, America?

Advertisements

The Scream Room. I feel like screaming.

I can’t find the words to say how upsetting I find the American election.


I’ve yet to read anything that explains better the cognitive dissonance about this election. What appears to be the absence of reason. An explanation for how we got here, when a reality-TV Emmy-loser can calmly state in a presidential debate that he might not accept the results of the election (side note – why then is he running?!). The article below, written after the RNC, is possibly the most powerful indictment of how a cultural shift made this possible.

In the humid dark of the plaza outside the event, a dozen young activists covered in sweat and glitter have got together an impromptu protest. Shell-shocked members of the press stumble out into the street. One journalist from a major mainstream outlet breaks down in tears.

“It’s just — there’s so much hate,” she says, as a couple of glitterpunks move in to comfort her. “What is happening to this country?”

What’s happening to this country has happened before, in other nations, in other anxious, violent times when all the old certainties peeled away and maniacs took the wheel. It’s what happens when weaponised insincerity is applied to structured ignorance. Donald Trump is the Gordon Gekko of the attention economy, but even he is no longer in control. This culture war is being run in bad faith by bad actors who are running way off-script, and it’s barely begun, and there are going to be a lot of refugees.  – Laurie Penny, I’m With the Banned


This video unpacking why the “lockeroom talk” spin is deeply upsetting. Silver lining: Trevor Noah is finally coming into his own on the Daily Show.


Can we take a second to remember what sexual assault really is? Let’s revisit Brock Turner’s victim’s impact statement.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

(…)

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused.

(…)

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

Yes. Yes, sexual assault and lockeroom talk.


I was at a 5a7 recently with a bunch of my girlfriends, most of whom have been practicing combat sports (kickboxing, muay thai, boxing) for years. All beautiful, professional, fierce women. The eldest surprised us by recounting how she had been assaulted by a male stranger the night before, on her way home from the gym. She’d sprained her thumb when he tackled her to the ground, lost her shoe during the struggle, and was banged up and bruised. She talked him out of his stated wish to rape and kill her. This triggered a group discussion amongst my friends, where one by one, we each traded our stories of the time we were assaulted by men. 5 of us. We all had stories. We all knew of other stories that the women in our lives, friends and family, had experienced.


I want to weep. As a woman, it is my burden that I instinctively recognize hatred directed towards my gender. My white privilege allowed me to be comfortably outraged until now, try laugh about the Wall, shaking my head at all those Mexican rapists and terrorizing Muslims. I was uncomfortably outraged when the Khan fiasco happened. But now? I feel personally attacked by Trump and all he represents.

And I am Canadian.

Guilty until proven innocent: Jian Ghomeshi

Day 2 of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial. Do I think he is innocent? Nope. Do I think he will be found guilty? Nope. Does that bother me? A bit, but the alternatives bother me more.

Similar to the Bill Cosby scandal – public opinion has condemned Jian Ghomeshi as guilty. The sheer number of stories and supporting journalism definitely points to him having done some uncool stuff, more than once. As a woman, there is an unfortunate feeling of dread and recognition when reading up on the alleged victims’ accounts of Ghomeshi’s stunts. The stories feel true. If I had to bet, he definitely crossed the line over into the realm of sexual assault a few times. CBC’s behaviour definitely supports that hypothesis – they wouldn’t have done all they did if there didn’t exist a serious problem at the organisation. So. Jian Ghomeshi is presumed guilty. I want him to be found guilty, and serve as an example to all the other creeps out there that frequently assault women. I really really want this. I want him to be the martyr for this cause.

There is a pervasive problem of women in Canada not reporting sexual assault. It has been documented extensively, reliably and repeatedly.

Shocking infographic #1:

Specifically, of the few sexual assault cases that are reported and go to trial, few result in convictions. This feels like a failure in justice.

Shocking infographic #2:

Yet, the fundamental reason for the lack of convictions is the very basis of our criminal law system in Canada:

We all know the standard in criminal law is very high. Every accused person is presumed innocent, a presumption that can only be displaced by unambiguous evidence that proves the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The onus is on the victim (via the Crown) to provide that evidence.

In the absence of corroboration, this system itself essentially dictates the near impossibility of conviction in a simple he-said, she-said situation.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandy-garossino/jian-ghomeshi-women-report-sex-assault_b_6059124.html

I am ok with that. I support that – rationally. I believe that the tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” is one of the best aspects of our society, and one that must be protected. Therefore, when I stop listening to my emotions that scream “condemn that little fucker!”, and look at all that has been written about the case, and it’s similarities with Bill Cosby, I am aware that there is a high likelihood that Jian Ghomeshi will not be found guilty, because the prosecution will not be able to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. That is fair.

But at the same time… sexual assault is a real thing. One that goes unpunished, yet wrecks (mostly) women’s lives.

What to do?

#jenesaispas

#jianghomeshicreepsmeout

#guiltymotherfuckerbutIstillhopehegetsafairtrial

P.S. in the interests of almost being unbiased, here is the only article I found online which claims our judicial system is just fine thankyouverymuch. Written by a lawyer. Well then, no problem afterall, phew! Canada, world’s 2nd-best place to live! We rock.