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TRIGGER WARNINGS INCLUDE: Mentions of Extreme Gender/Sexual Ignorance and Sexual Assault

**NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED

When we last left our not-really-a heroine, she was knee-deep in self-deprecation over a situation that she had not caused, yet could not have believed that was the case due to an ostensible, restrictive religious upbringing and no sense of gender or sexual self. Let’s see if our not-so-much-of-a heroine has gained any wisdom/insight/self-love on her journey into…

The Roaring Twenties Or How Becoming Beautiful Almost Destroyed Everything:

I meandered out of college and into my third decade with a reproachable view on everything in this universe that didn’t have animated, overly dramatic reactions to small social gaffes and Federation uniforms. Due to a lack of forethought [something that I didn’t think that a 22-year-old could have], I wound up back in the CHI and back into the heart of the Pentecostal dirth from which I was so happy to have escaped four years prior. I figured that this situation would not be nearly as fretful as I could have envisioned because I was certain that I would be leaving the CHI again in a year, 2 years tops. I was a transformed, unique individual returning from college. Certainly my mother would see that. Certainly we could now have an adult conversation about my lack of faith and sexual confusion. Certainly the days of hand-waving dismissal and quick “it’s just a phase; you’ll grow out of it” euphemisms had passed. In case you were wondering, I came home almost 11 years ago, and I still have not had an adult conversation about my atheism or sexual comprehension with my mother.

So I dove into my nerdom even further. A frustrating task it became due to my downgrading from T-1 to dial-up, but my sanity required it. The 5-12 hour stints in order to procure the next wave of DBZ episodes went from excruciating to bearable to unnoticeable. It wasn’t like I had anything else to do outside of work and Tae Kwon Do practice. Life went that way until I was introduced as the wing woman in my mid-twenties.

I didn’t ask to become a wing woman. I didn’t really know what that meant at 25. What I knew off of the bat was that it had to do with those horrible social trials known as human mating rituals; a facet of existence of which I had wanted no part. To my somewhat pleasant surprise, I discovered that the wing woman was not a direct participant in these social trials, but an ancillary character that helps the protagonist by convincing potential suitors that she is worth the catch in ways that she could not express. Yes, I became the Magical Negress of the LP Trixie crowd. Given the quality of suitors to which I had been introduced, I did not take as much of an insult that I was not what they sought: dark, plump, scathing and unapologetically dominant. What I did take to heart was the blatant refusal to acknowledge my presence in any form other than the annoying tag-a-long fat friend of the hot chick who must be entertained so the arrogant dickbag suitor can get laid.

There I was, a relatively intelligent, interesting person with plenty of opinions and a desire to debate, and I was being ignored because my fuckability factor didn’t even blip on their radar. At my core, I knew that something was amiss. Human beings were not supposed to treat each other this way; however this idea would be patronized when I made attempts to expound on it with my male “compatriots” at the time. In social situations, I felt my power be stripped once more as my attempts to express my identity were crushed under the weight of the patriarchal conquest to add another notch to the proverbial bedpost. My bar-hopping experience in my early to mid-twenties left me with a nastier slice of what I perceived the heterosexual male gender to comprise. Be they violent psychopaths or two-dimensional man-children, I perceived that heteronormative relations between men and women were nothing more than the power struggle that played out on the beer-ladened dance floors every weekend. And there I was: plump, angry, invisible. It was only a matter of time before I learned to fade into the background and let the prettier, less threatening girl have her spotlight, because in the end, she had the power in the battle of sexes aka Life and that was all that matter.

Then, something I didn’t count on happened. Over the course of my mid-twenties, I went from this:

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to this:

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The passage of three years and the loss of approximately 30lbs had transformed me from the Magical Negress to the Hot Action Girl, according to TVTropes.org. This metamorphosis came with a heavy advantage over the heteronormative men who would not give me the time of day just 36 months prior. This was the perfect opportunity to exact my revenge.

Somehow, in the annals of my twisted heteronormative indoctrination, I deduced that promiscuity would be the best route of revenge, for I was not only pretty now, but I was also smart: a unicorn amidst the Normy world. I set off on my own conquest of “Fuck! Dump! Dodge!” with a number of men within the Greater Chicago area, mistakenly believing that for every chucklehead that I conned, I gained another ounce of retribution for all of the crimes committed against me since I was 18 years old. All it would take was a sideways look and a bit of pith and I had them on a tow line. I would tell them no lies, but spin beautiful half-truths. I would play with them under the moon only to sneak off at the first glimpse of the sun. I would show a select group of my female compatriots their text messages and we would laugh at their pathetic attempts to engage in my attention. I pushed social boundaries on the premise that “I always prefaced my intentions, so you have no right to be mad.” I disregarded the feelings of many in order to satisfy the whims of one, and no one, at least not right away, protested because I was pretty and smart.  And, because I was pretty and smart, I figured that I was invincible.

Then in 2009, I met a man at a charity event named Tyler**. It was late in July, like it is now when I began drafting this post, and I was throwing money at the bartender like it was water because, despite being a manipulative cunt rag [my later-discovered nickname being thrown around by my “friends”], I still had my principles. I had noticed that Tyler had taken a liking to me early in the evening, but I had done nothing but pass side glances every now and then to acknowledge his existence. I learned early on in the Game that a woman maintains her power by letting the man think that he still has his. And that is what is most important: maintaining power.

There are patches in my memory to how it all started. I remember making out on the street while looking for a cab; I don’t remember the cab ride home; I remember claiming to be a tough girl who liked sex; I don’t remember claiming to “like and want it rough”. I remember him pushing me forward onto my bed. I remember him holding my head face down in the my sheets and not being able to breathe while he pummeled me from behind. I remember him kicking my legs out into a wider stance for his convenience. I remember screaming “STOP” into my sheets and not being heeded until he got bored doing that specific “move”.

Lifetime Television made its mark bringing the horrors of rape to basic cable by portraying it with silent tears and Sarah McLachlan cooing in the background. It showed the horrified girl freezing in terror as unspeakable atrocities are being enacted upon her in the span of 15 minutes.

Lifetime Television, you’re a fucking liar.

You never told me that rape could last longer than 15 minutes.

You never told me that I would freeze out of resignation instead of fear.

You never gave me Sarah McLachlan or the rest of the Lilith Fair line up to drift away to.

No, Lifetime Television, you gave me emptiness. An emptiness that grew from resignation into one despicable, unimaginable thought:

That I deserved every single thing that I had coming to me.

That is why I didn’t fight back. That is why I let him take me when I drifted out of consciousness. I invited this man into my home; I accepted the consequences that came with that decision.

Then something else happened. The emptiness started retreating and that old rage from my 18-year-old self began to surface.

I grabbed his hand, “No.”

He chuckled. “So what are you going to do?”

I responded by flipping him off of me and restraining him with an arm bar. The raging 18-year-old now had the 28-year-old hand-to-hand combat skills.

“This is done. GET OUT.”

Now, I’m going to preemptively answer some questions that always seem to come up when rape accusations surface:

What did you do next?

Well, I lied. I lied to my friends and I lied to myself. I buried the experience down into the annals of my psyche and spun some sordid tale of sexual marathoning for my captive audience at the time.

But, why?

Well, it’s a lot easier to convince yourself of a lie emboldening your sexual conquistador history than it is to admit that truth that you had every inch of power stripped from you, isn’t it?

Why didn’t you go to the police?

Sigh. I fucking hate this question. So, I’ve worked in the legal field for over 10 years, so let me explain to you how efficient and fair and quiet it ISN’T. The exact moment that you take your case to the police, your entire life becomes undone AGAIN. You think at first that the justice system will have your back because you are the victim. You think that the justice system will put your rapist on trial. Sadly, that’s just another thing that Lifetime Television fucking lied to us about. Only Jonathan Kaplan had the balls to touch on what it is actually like to be a victim who depends on the justice system for justice. [Full disclosure: I have never seen this movie, and for obvious reasons, I absolutely refuse to]. The perpetrator isn’t put on trial; the victim is. The victim’s whole world is put on trial. Every single private person, place and/or thing of the victim’s life is resurrected and put on display for the judge, the jury, the prosecution and the defense to scrutinize, analyze and twist into a sick game of “he said, she said” all when you’re trying in vain to regain some normality to your existence. For me, and me alone, I just wanted it to go away, and having extensive experience in the legal field, I knew that what happened to me would never, ever go away if I went to the cops. The particulars would have worked against me: I was drinking. I invited him in. I had a promiscuous past, and though it is illegal in the State of Illinois to reference a sexual assault victim’s sexual history prior to the incident, I can assure you that our laws are very malleable.

What if Tyler’s** done this to someone else? What if you could have stopped him?

And here is where the Lifetime Television bullshit apexes and clashes with reality. First, let me say, if this is the case, there is no amount of apologizing that I could possibly do to make it any better. Second, chances are he has done this to someone else, and yes, the very thought of that makes me sick to my stomach for that person, but we do not live in a society, nor do we have a legal system that is kind to women who have a more liberal ideal of sex than Phyllis Schafly. I do not believe that a criminal justice system that is based on bureaucrats and broken promises can provide adequate justice to any of his or any other victims. We live in a society that federally funds lessons for teenage boys on how not to “get caught” instead of just NOT RAPING. So, forgive me if I sound pessimistic, but you need support in order to stop a rapist, and we obviously don’t have it. Understand, I am not looking for leniency for my inaction; I am merely looking for some microscopic understanding. You can’t fight someone else’s battle when you can’t stand and fight your own.

So why say anything now?

Because I’m angry. I’m angry all of the time, and you know what? I’m sick and tired of being angry. Tired, tired, so motherfucking tired of it. I’m sick and tired of treating my romantic interests like chattel, and I’m tired of mentally neutering my platonic male friends in order to rationalize my friendship with them. I’m tired of dehumanizing innocent men because of what two jackholes did to me. I’m tired of being quiet about my damage. I’m tired of rationalizing my damage. I’m tired of the self-deprecating “YOU WERE AT FAULT” thoughts that I still have to this day. I am TI-URD…and I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So, what now?

I start to heal. Check that. I start to let myself heal. I start reminding myself that it was not, it was never my fault. I start reminding myself that I never asked for it. I start reminding myself that I withdrew my consent the instant that I screamed no. I start reminding myself that I have the strength to forgive myself for resigning to the situation. I start reminding myself that I have the strength to overcome. I start reminding myself that it is great to love your geeky things, but NEVER OK to hide behind them. I start reminding myself how detrimental strict religious upbringings can taint a woman’s gender and sexual development, but also how detrimental it is to not consensually explore beyond your boundaries. I start reminding myself how necessary honesty is to yourself and to your loved ones. And I remind myself to do these things every gorram day.

Now, how about we sit down and figure out what needs to be done to make sure that all of this doesn’t ever fucking happen to anyone ever again?

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