Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I just finished reading this book.
If you haven't read it yet, what I've written below may spoil it for you. Not by much, but it might.

I had a dream one night that led, over many months, to a sad hotch-potch little story that you could, if you really wanted to, read here. I wouldn't advise it, but I had to have it said. I did think about it. I did try. I got nowhere, but I tried. I was so reluctant to talk about what I'd dreamed that I did not address the issue even here, letting it end, instead, hanging. Happy. Safe.
I didn't feel right talking about something of which I had no knowledge.
What right had I?

And yet, I know the fear. As a woman, I live with that fear every day. I don't know if all women do this. I know I do. Every time I am out walking by myself. Every time I'm carrying bags, so my hands aren't free. Every time I smell drink on the breath of the driver of the auto I am in. Every time I find I am alone, anywhere, with a man I don't know beside me. Every sense is suddenly heightened, every thought is about possibilities. Every cell is afraid.
See, I'm not stupid. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. I don't party, I don't stay out late, I don't hang out with strangers. (much). When I'm alone, I'm alert. When I walk out at night, or late, I walk with an umbrella in my hand; the cord wrapped around my wrist; as a weapon. When I'm on a public bus, I stand with my elbows out; I sit with my arms wrapped around my body; as weapons, as protection. I try to draw as little attention to myself as a female as possible.
But not always.
Not always.

These are my scariest nightmares. I have dreamed of a day when I'm not as careful, when I let down my guard, when I'm vulnerable; when I suddenly become a victim.
My mother believes that I am too naïve, too trusting, too gullible; she fears for me all the time. I know she worries about me; when I'm alone, out late, at a party, at a pub. She worries, but she never imagines it. I do. I know that there are too many. I know how easy it is, how common.
Until today, I always felt that I had no right to imagine it because it had never happened to me. I had no right to imagine it because it was something that could not be imagined. I read about hundreds of women who had been raped, by people they knew, by people they trusted, by strangers; and all I could think was that trying to write fiction about it would belittle their pain.
Now I will attempt it again. I don't promise it will be better; I don't promise it will be good. I just want to be able to imagine the horror of a violation of my own body.
It's my body. I believe I have the right.

Five months. A hundred posts. Have I ever said anything worthwhile?

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