Finished


Why are you always talking about that feminist shit? And rape, it’s not every woman; it’s not you.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this. Can Not Count. And I smile politely and say nothing. In my head I am screaming, how the fuck do you know that? What the fuck would you know about it? Nothing? Right. Yes, every woman. But I say nothing and continue to post. It’s intrusive I’m told. Really? Probably not as intrusive as rape, just sayin’.

When I was fourteen, back when climbing trees and skipping stones were still a part of my world, my mother enrolled me in finishing school. Apparently, I wasn’t done right. Well, at least that’s what my mother thought. The boys in the woods had other ideas. As boys often do. Rape would probably be a strong word, molested might be better. At fourteen. But I wasn’t feminine enough, not—girly—enough. I needed finishing. So the boys in the woods finished me or gave it their best fifteen-second go.

I stopped climbing trees and skipping stones. Well, I stuck to trees in my own backyard, with an overly protective German Shepard sleeping below, saving me from the dangers of the boys who liked me.

The boys who picked on me liked me. That’s what I was told as they pulled my long red hair, slapped my ass, or snapped my bra. They liked me. Perhaps I wasn’t complete enough to see that, being just fourteen. Yeah, never mind. About that… I’m not sure I’m on board with that plan. In fact, you know what? Fuck you.

I started wearing makeup when I was fourteen and heels. I learned in finishing school that that’s what young women did. And there’s  a lot to be said for a woman with long legs in heels. Just ask the boys in the woods. Not that I wore heels in the woods, but I went to school in them. I walked in the dark to the bus stop at 5:30 in the morning with the boys from the woods trailing behind, sneering. They were normal; it was me, I was not finished. I needed special schooling to be a girl.

And so I learned what finished girls did.

I entered beauty contests. And won, I made the grade, if not finished, I was at least enough. I posed for artists with and without my clothes, or theirs. It’s amazing what a little makeup can do for age (I am learning that works in reverse too which is actually kind of cool). I wasn’t exactly a girly-girl, but I was a quick study and learned batting my eyes could take me places. Maybe that meant I was finally finished. I hoped so. It’s hard on the ego to be incomplete.

I was finished enough at fifteen that the boys in the woods became bolder, or possibly just more experienced. And rape would be an understatement, five boys, one girl. I’ll leave the details to your imagination. I had left behind my tomboy ways that likely would have protected me, I was finished. They left me naked, bruised, and bleeding in the woods. Because they liked me. What they did was finish me, initiate me into the world of women. Yes, all women.

So did the smarmy middle-aged men leering at me in dressing rooms. Taking me to parties I was not old enough to be at. Offering me money. Refusing to let me out of a room, or to take me home. They liked me—finished me—made me complete. Without the attention of aggressive men who liked a woman, how could she be complete?

So when I hear someone say, don’t equate harassment with rape, I bristle because I am finished: complete unto myself, done with that attitude. Had I stood up to the daily harassment, had I known that was an option, I probably would not have ended up in the woods alone for hours, dazed.  But I didn’t know. Finished girls don’t, they are trained to accept that sort of behavior as normal. Harassment is rape’s little, more socially-acceptable, brother. And I am still harassed every day. If I complain? Call someone out? Well, what are you doing looking so good?

Um, genetics? Should I dress in rags to keep you at bay? Pretty sure that has never prevented a rape. Should I not feel good about myself? I’ve got news for you, I don’t dress for you. At all. I look good for me.

I didn’t report the rape. I didn’t tell anyone. Ever. Not with any specificity or details, until now. Most women don’t, there’s a sort of what’s the point attitude. And at fifteen, after years of hearing violence equated to, if not love, at least like. Being raped meant I was finally finished, a girl in the club.

My visceral reaction to the man in the White House has deep roots. I knew men like that, was trapped in rooms by men like that. Men who thought I was a toy. Men who said they liked me. So, when I heard, “just grab them by the pussy,” I was fourteen again; then fifteen; then tied up and trapped by a man who wanted me to pose for a “gentleman’s” magazine. I was molested, raped, and harassed all over again.

And again when he won the election.

Why do I post about rape and feminism? Because, yes every woman. Every fucking woman. Yes me. Yes, every woman you know. And when he was elected the boys in the woods and the smarmy men in the modeling world all got a green light. If she objects, smack her, she isn’t finished enough to understand this. If she is pretty it is her obligation to comply. And I am so fucking finished.

I post flattering pictures of myself on Facebook and Twitter (thank you, talented photographers in my world). I’m told, “I’m asking for it.” I’m asking for it? What does that even mean? What am I asking for? We’re back to good genetics, aren’t we?

Why should I bow to you? Why should I hide away because you can’t control yourself? I receive inappropriate pictures, commonly referred to as Dick-pics, a couple of times a week. I have men email me and inbox me regularly. Reg-u-lar-ly. They invite me to do all sorts lewd and inappropriate things. Pictures with suggestions about what I could do for the man pictured, or at least his little bits. My first reaction is always, I’ll Lorena Bobbitt you, that’s what I’ll do—hang on—let me get my magnifying glass.

If I make any response other than a cyber-sexy one (which I don’t, so stop at the hand), I’m a bitch. I’m too smart for my own good. Fuck you, I am smart, and I happen to be what many, apparently, consider attractive. Most of the women I know are smart—smarter than most men. And they all dress to look good because that makes them FEEL good. Got it? Good.

Welcome to the twenty-first century. Women have power and know how to use it. Women are educated. Women have learned that we need to band together, there is power in numbers, together we can. It’s that same lesson we learned when we started going to bars, don’t go alone, always take a friend—even if you just met her five minutes ago. The most common place for a woman to be raped is in the bathroom, fewer clothes to rip off. There’s safety in numbers. Dear patriarchy, you taught us well. We own this game now.

So every time we hear the voice of the man in the White House, every time his face scrolls through a Facebook feed, millions of us are reliving rapes. We are triggered by the most powerful man in the world. Think about that. Think about how you feed or have fed this culture, and make amends. Finish it right. If a woman is posting or telling rape stories it is because she is trying to protect someone else from living her nightmare, she’s trying to keep some young woman out of the club.  If she looks good and is attractive, if she posts pictures that are appealing it is because she is saying fuck you, you will not win. I am in control of my own destiny. And I am complete; the boys in the woods and the White House can rot in hell. I am finished with a culture that encourages violence against women. I am finished being the girl from finishing school. And I feel like I am not alone in that. So be aware of the beast you have awakened, and know the future is female.

Note: this piece is in no way a reflection of the man I wrote about yesterday. No way.

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8 thoughts on “Finished

  1. You’re welcome, Meg. I have never felt so compelled to say anything like this, that is not until I first heard the Billy Bush tape–and then he was elected anyway. Every day, I say who are we? And how many men are ok with pussy-grabbing? It doesn’t leave me frightened, it leaves me angry and determined.

  2. Thank you, Mel for this important message; superbly and bravely stated. I am sorry for what informed this writing. But your courage and determination is inspiring and YES – your words DO matter. Keep knowing that. Jae

  3. Thank you, Mel, for this important message; superbly and bravely stated. I am sorry for what informed this writing. But your courage and determination is inspiring and YES – your words DO matter. Keep knowing that. Jae

  4. Yes! I am so tired of people minimalizing women’s issues and saying trite things like “boys will be boys.” Why are they tacitly condoning the harassment, molestation, rape, and general oppression of women? Because boys just can’t control themselves? Fuck that. More of us need to be speaking up. I was frequently called a bitch in high school for calling out that patriarchal shit and I will continue to do so.

  5. Very powerful piece. Thank you for sharing your experience and your reaction. I’m shaken.

    _____

    • I’m sorry, that wasn’t the intent. I feel like, if not me, then who? And if not now, then when? It’s time we use the power we have gained. No one should go through what I did.

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