rape culture

We continue to say No:Why Akona Ndungane’s story still matters

The We Are The World days are long gone.  We’re currently smack in the middle of a culture that sees activism and story telling stripped from main art forms: music, literature, photography, painting etc.  I wouldn’t say stories aren’t still being told, of course they are, but not as honestly as they used to be.

And I guess I understand why.

As art becomes a business, image becomes [slightly more important than?] the craft itself.

For some. 

To those who continue to give us their truth, and teach, and inspire, and strengthen: Thank you.

 

 

I was going through my music collection when I found a gem.

The POWA  Mixtape. 

 

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Born from Akona Ndungane’s chilling account of her rape ordeal, POWA saw artists such as Tumi Molekane, Reason, Zaki Ibrahim, Zubz and Tuks, just to name a few, and Akona herself, collaborating to bring a project that will leave you emotionally wrecked, to say the least.

 

 

 

 

But it’s the truth.

It’s her truth.

And it’s the truth of many young women out there.

The reality of it is, we don’t talk about these things.

Society whispers to us to maybe, just maybe try and deal with the fact that this is our reality.  Few people have the lack of empathy and ingrained misogyny in them to say “Get the fuck over it. You’re walking targets and you will be preyed upon,”  but some do nonetheless and they really just verbally express what we’re shown.

It’s why sharing your rape story gets you stigma and shame, being shunned, instead of support.

It’s why people ask you what you did to deserve it before even considering that you aren’t the problem.

It’s why, when your partner rapes you, nobody calls it what it is, in their minds you signed over your rights to your body the moment you agreed to the relationship.

It’s why I’m writing this.

Because I can’t explain why I’m constantly crying at stories that other people tell me don’t affect me.

Because I’m constantly trying to explain to my male friends that at the very least, we live life constantly vigilant, if not terrified.

Because when I log on to Twitter it’s a shock to constantly see the number of women who share their stories of abuse.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow, that we’re all THIS connected… by trauma.  That we’ve formed a sisterhood because of all the things that’ve tried to break our spirits.

I’ve been an emotional wreck.

It’s not that it took me 5 years to realize that somebody violated me, it’s that there are countless other women who can either relate or never accept it, so never will.

It’s not that I know what I know, it’s that other women don’t.

It’s that I constantly have to find a new way to use everyday objects as a person.

I got excited when I found out that KEYS can be used for self defense.

 

Fucking. Keys.

 

That excited me.

And then it hit me how tragic that is.

 

 

Akona’s story, four years after it’s first telling, fourteen years after it happened, still needs to be told.

It needs to be repeated, felt, understood,for as long as is necessary.

Until our women aren’t being hunted anymore, until our men don’t think that’s a normal part of our lives, until the destruction of our society is halted.

But this is where we’re at now.

This is our reality, now.

 

Think about that.

Really think about it.

 

*Visit ISaidNo here

 

 

Make it Nasty: Sex And Violence

A hand squeezing tighter around her neck as she attempts to take shallower breaths.  She arches her back and feels the sting of a forming bruise on her backside. Nails dig into the back of her neck as teeth sink into her skin.  She’s roughly pushed further up and her legs shoved apart as the warm breath on her inner thigh signals a presence and as she breathes out “Wait, no..” and whimpers another set of teeth sink into her thigh and a hand reaches up to choke her again as another slaps her across the face. 

I wouldn’t be shocked  if that image turned you on.  Rough sex has become more and more appealing to us, leaking into everyday sex scenes and intimate moments on television and in books. The woman abruptly pushed up against a wall in an alley by her lover, roughly grabbed, then kissed.  Such images have made the majority of us crave that kind of raw passion, the lack of control that seems to accompany intense desire. And when you look at it like that, as merely passionate, it’s fine I guess.

But I’ve never really cared much for what’s going on on the surface.

At the height of my infatuation with being used, I felt I was losing control.  The bruises were darker and lasted longer, the bite marks would  draw blood, I’d get choked til I almost passed out and being hit didn’t bother me that much, in fact,  none of these things bothered me at all. I wanted to understand why.

Yes, I was into BDSM, sure, I liked rough sex, but why didn’t I have limits? Why wasn’t I scared to hurt myself by letting others take their frustrations out on me sexually?

On the surface I decided it could simply be Desire. I found it appealing, so I wanted it.

Underneath that, daddy issues. My father was a cold man and so I was intimate with men who could hurt me with my consent, thus creating a balance between their affection [sex] and rejection and pain.

Beneath that, society. When did we decide the abuse of women  is appealing? No, this has nothing to do with those who willingly walk into it and accept it, this is about those who are coaxed into believing it’s for any and every woman.

Two things happened last week that triggered this.

1) A lady on Twitter asked why we found violence appealing in the case of phone sex, or rather that was the example she used.  Things like “I want to destroy your pussy”, “I’m going to leave you a mess, unable to even move or speak”, “I wanna ravage your ass” are in actual fact, rather violent statements.  If you are so affectionate, why is it that you show it by seemingly “destroying” me? What, love is pain?

2)I came across a Tumblr post by a Lady who said she wanted to prove that we find women more appealing when bloodied and bruised, and dear God, I’m ashamed to say she was right.  She was pretty when she was plain, but her ragged picture afterwards was just so darn attractive. And that scared me.

There’s a certain yearning in the eyes of women who want to be hurt in any way possible.  Women who’ve accepted their reality as everyone else’s punching bag and have decided to roll with the punches, seek them out even.

We live in a society that’s saturated with images of violence and pain that it would be shocking if we hadn’t become desensitized to it and romanticized it.

It’s like Russian roulette every time you have that scarf around your throat, it could go either way and that’s part of the thrill. But do you know that?

Do you know that possibly, you aren’t satisfying your desires but being the cloth someone else leaves their frustrations on? And you helplessly yet willingly walk into these situations because it’s where you feel you need to be, what you need to have.

We’re led to believe we should want to be thrown about like rag dolls and we should think certain behaviours romantic but I call Bullshit.  I personally am extremely uncomfortable with it. Being pulled towards someone, having someone pin me up against a wall, anyone who I haven’t given prior consent doing things they think I’ll like .

Is it supposed to be non threatening because it’s someone that you know?  Because for me it’s all scary. Why would it be okay because it’s someone you have a platonic relationship with shoving you down and kissing you even though you didn’t want it? Because at least it wasn’t a stranger? It’s a stranger to your body,no?

The fact that we’ve romanticized being overpowered and imposed  this on people means many people don’t know where to draw the line between rapey behaviour and what they actually find sexy.

I’m saying we need to think sometimes about why we want certain things rather than just go with it. Especially if what you think you like constantly feels odd to you somehow.

Sometimes who/what we think we are is merely a product of our environment and not truly Us. And the sooner you know, the better.

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“A girl child ain’t safe..”

My cousin says he loves me “despite our differences”.  Our “differences” being he wants to sleep with me every time he gets drunk in my presence and I resist his advances and shun him.  He once asked me “Why do you give others and not me?” I still don’t know how to answer his questions.

He speaks to me and stares at my breasts, watches me walk out of the room and I feel his eyes on my thighs. When my male friends visit he wins them over by sharing alcohol with them and cracking jokes. They talk about the latest movies and attractive females, they spend so much time looking at him, paying attention to him that they don’t notice that every time I get up to get a drink I move further away. That he constantly tells them how much he “loves” me and I never say anything back. Not even smile. 

My mother constantly asks him to stay with us when they’re away. I wonder why because she knows. I wonder if  she thinks what I told her when I was thirteen has changed. And I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to fight alone, quietly, than to win people over to your cause. 

I watch For Colored Girls and observe the dance teacher chat gaily to the man who will soon be her rapist. He walks her home and she twirls for him as she explains something or the other about the music she loves so much. I watch her and feel sorry.  Observing her enthusiasm, naivete, is like seeing a child run into the street after a ball with a speeding car on the road. Observing her is tragic. I think “But all women should know never to be so at ease.”

My body and I have an agreement. Never be comfortable around these men. We cannot afford to be.  We do not need to be. It simply is not advisable to be.  I sometimes glance at my closest male friends and wonder, what would it take for him to be like them? It can happen, but will it?

 

I think back to the time my boyfriend forced himself on me and my 12 year old self decided it couldn’t be rape because when I agreed to date him it obviously meant I knew he’d want my body and I had somehow agreed. I think of the time when my friend came back from a date no longer a virgin and no longer a believer n the Good in humans and I cannot see what it is about this Life that should make us calm,leave us at ease.

I hear men who think we should appreciate their grabbing us on the street and tell us that we modern day women don’t know how to take compliments and think, how are we wrong for not taking unwanted sexual advances and rape as flattering?

I think people who tell us we’re too wound up are the worst kind of Ignorant. How would you be if you knew smiling at a stranger on the street could be reason enough in his eyes to follow you home and have his way with you? That your uncle,father,brother could decide that you wearing shorts at home is a sign for him to come get it? That your drunk boyfriend could decide it’s funny to lock you up in a room and have his friends rape you as he watches?

Would you still be as carefree and giggle with men? Would you flirt so openly? Dress as you please and walk the streets with a guy you met last night? Would you find it as easy to go out and “socialize” and be as comfortable sitting in a room with your boyfriend? All things considered,would you?

I always say if the average man were to have a sex change tomorrow, he’d have a nervous breakdown in a week at the most. You don’t know what it’s like to be us. What it takes to be strong and appear normal when all you think about is how you might be a waiting statistic.

The human female is probably the most preyed upon creature on this Earth. And most of the time it seems we’re expected to watch while we’re devoured. Welcome it even.

Frankly,not only is a girl child not safe in a family full of men,she isn’t safe in a society that doesn’t understand nor respect,applaud, her will to survive.

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