I am, without intent or desire, kinda weird.
I know this; you know this. It’s not news, or a secret, or even probably of remote interest to most folks. The problem is, the more normal I try to get, the weirder people seem to think I am.
This brings me to the subject at hand: deviancy. Inspired by today’s compelled readings (ok so fine, my arm remains untwisted), eager to shoot back at them and then of course to also concede some points on further thought, I realized that my whole life has been about fighting deviancy. Not just in college, but since, kind of, birth.
I don’t mean overblown neodeviancy where we’ve decided that anybody who thinks anything outside of the accepted 18 – 45 Year Old Demo Think is the corporate devil. I mean actual deviancy, actual devil.
This could get kinda heavy, but it also will be as funny as I can possibly make rape, abuse, & politics be. Er. Yeah.
When I was in college, I studied psychology with the intent to treat persons who were adult survivors of sexual assault. I mostly wanted to deal with persons suffering from PTSD or borderline personality disorder who were abused as children. This brings me to the following link http://www.aei.org/speech/17965 which in part asserts that survivor memories are actually suggested by psychologists. Well, unfortunately that is sometimes true, but not always.
But sometimes, yes.
“My God!” you are all screaming at me. “How can you say such a thing? First of all, this horrible article decries the concept of date rape & then it also says that people who spontaneously remember abuse are full of crap!” Well, it doesn’t actually say either of those things, so simmer down.
Let me share with you a wacky experience, both academic and personal.
My senior year, I was part of a research team headed by an amazing man who had a master’s degree in epistemology and a doctorate in psychology. He specifically helped people prosecute sexual assault. He had an incredibly dark sense of nonchalant humour, as one must in that line of business. And the team working under him were ok…
Here’s the thing. We were trying to develop a way to teach college age males that coerced sex is wrong. We were researching what methods worked. Getting them to feel empathy for the victim did not. Giving them facts about the physical costs of rape did not. Getting them to understand what would happen to their lives if they got caught seemed most effective, in our research.
The graduate students in the team were also working on an unbiased sexual abuse assessment for child molestation cases. As I’m sure some of you know, there have been horrific miscarriages of justice that, instead of protecting children, traumatize them further, and these are perpetrated by social workers & psychologists. One of the films I watched during my time with this group showed a social worker asking a child repeatedly “Did he touch you there?” Something like 37 times, no joke. The child kept saying no, but eventually said, exasperated, “If I say yes, will you stop asking me that question?” The social worker triumphantly wrote that down in her notes as positive identification of molestation!
The unbiased sexual assessment tool was supposed to ask questions in a way that was not repetitious, leading, or traumatizing. I thought it was a great project, and I respected the guys who were putting it together.
However, one of them did something to me I will never forget & barely understood until today, when I read the link.
I had been relaying to him my weekend. To me, it seemed pretty typical KJ fare. See, in college, and here’s where some of *my* deviance shows, I would choose sexual partners sometimes based on how great of a story it would make later, and by “great” I mean “funny”. I would get myself, however, into really stupid situations, mostly because I was hammered, had a best friend who was emotionally crippled & also hammered, and God protected my idiot arse for some reason during all of this. Technically, I should be dead in the desert somewhere, or in a Russian brothel.
The weekend went as follows: I got very, very inebriated. I met up with a friend and his friends. We thought it would be a great idea to go drink some more, so I got in a Jeep with a bunch of strange men 8 times my size & we drove out to some hick bar, had 4 more pitchers of beer, & I shot some of the best pool in my life (I have to admit, I’m kind of a shark). We then drove around some more. By the time we reached his place, I had no idea where I was. He said I could stay as nobody was sober enough at this point to drive me home, wherever that was, and I stayed with him. You can guess what happened next. When I woke up the next morning, I had a lovely chat with the boys in the house, watched my sexual partner beat the crap out of his room mate with a hockey stick (all in good fun), and then realized, “Oh. I am one block from my dorm.” I thought I had told the boys where I lived, but I guess not? They wanted me to go to lunch with them, but I had to get back to study or something, so I walked home.
So anyhow, I relayed this to my grad student friend in the same tone I relay all such stories, which is the tone whereby I stop every ten seconds because I am laughing too hard. When I was done, I noticed that he had a horrified look on his face. It then melted into what I took to be compassionate lines of concern.
“Oh my God, you poor thing,” he said. “You, Kellie Jane, were date raped!”
Say WHAT?! I must have cocked my head to the side. That’s what I do. I also make a kind of twisty face.
He got down to my level (he was sitting on the table, I was in a chair) & looked me in the eye (to his credit, he didn’t touch me). “You’ve been researching & assisting this group all this time & you don’t even realize you’ve been raped? Oh, Kellie Jane.”
In retrospect, I see this as intellectual condescension.
He explained to me that I had been coerced with alcohol and the disorientation of being driven around. Was I sure the other boys hadn’t enjoyed me? Yes, I was quite certain, considering one of them was a relatively famous boxer & I think I would have felt the after effects of someone that large. Also the discussion I had with one of the other guys in the house in the morning seemed pretty indicative of him not getting a shot at me. I was not so drunk I couldn’t remember being gang raped.
I had only had sex with the one goofy frat guy. Of that I was certain.
Oh, but he had date raped me for sure, the grad student explained. By keeping me awake (I did admit that I finally had sex with the guy because he was whining so much I couldn’t sleep), he was further disorienting and coercing me. Did he at least use a condom? My GOD, yes. I don’t let anybody near me without!
The graduate student tut tutted. “That in an of itself does not prevent it from being date rape.” I said that was true; rapists use condoms to prevent evidence from, er, escaping on to/into the victim. “But I wasn’t raped,” I repeated.
Oh, but I WAS. He actually argued with me!
No, I wasn’t. See, I had a point of comparison. I had previously actually been sexually assaulted, and that was an entirely different experience. That had nothing to do with choices I had made, with accepting a certain amount of personal responsibility for my reckless behaviour, because when I was really sexually assaulted, I was a child. I explained this to him.
Even more pity showed up on his face. “Oh of course you don’t know what non-coercive sex is like, you poor thing! You’ve been programmed to accept that you are simply a vessel to be acted upon!”
Well, he has a point. Despite my rather, er, dominant personality, I am actually a relatively submissive mate. I won’t get into that too much. Suffice to say, despite having been a Passion Parties rep & someone who has taken several sexuality classes due to my college studies, I am pretty vanilla. There, I said it. I like being the girl. I’m a passionate vanilla, you know, the kind you scrape out of the pod, but vanilla nonetheless.
It wasn’t always that way, though. In response to my real rape, I was the way flexible, highly skilled aggressor for quite some time. I was also very callous. I assumed it meant as little to them as it did to me. I was surprised and horrified by the hurt feelings of men who felt I didn’t care about them enough. I was in fact quite disgusted by such mewling squishy boys. Sex was a game. You took what you could & bragged about it later.
Did I enjoy any of that? Good lord, no! None of that sex was even remotely satisfying. It was, however, very empowering. I felt profoundly in control, despite clearly being out of control. This is typical sex assault survivor behaviour, by the way (some of you are saying “Duh”). You either go virginal (which I did at first), or swing the other way.
Being virginal was not empowering. For a while, in high school, it was gratifying to always be right. Yes, that’s how much of an ass I was about my virginity. I was always right; everyone else was disgusting. Well, being a virgin wasn’t giving me any power at all. I was a shapely girl with an impish little face, and withholding all that from the male masses seemed to only make them annoyed with me. I guess that, plus alcohol and my incredibly messed up older friend, gave me permission to be a relatively bad girl in college.
I could tell you stories. Most of them are funny.
But here’s what’s not funny. After this discussion, I started backing away from the research group. See, it was to be my job to go to the frat houses to recruit the boys to come in for the study. I was also to approach the various sport teams. I started to get nervous about this, and by the time I was to actually do it, I was so paralyzed with fear I stopped showing up to meetings. The grad student who helped me “see the light” gladly took over that arduous task for me, since he “understood“.
I started having panic attacks. I ended up having to take Norvasc to calm me down.
That son of a bitch.
In retrospect, this was idiotic. However, because the comparison had been drawn between my actual sexual assault and this supposed date rape, I had a flood of flashbacky unhappiness. The rest of that semester was hell. I had no flashbacks at all of my alleged date rape, but I had plenty of the actual. I have, to this day, not even the weirdest of feelings about the “date rape”.
This grad student took my power away from me. He defined the deviancy of my experience UP. I had taken responsibility for my silly actions, and I was fine with that. He tried to make me into a victim.
Well, as I’ve said since I was 13, I’m a survivor, not a victim. Victims are in the ground.
The grad student also, in a way, defined the deviancy of my real assault DOWN. Mine was a typical middle class story. I was a classic victim. I was statistically normal. Really? It’s ok, what happened to me, because it happens to so many little girls? No, of course it’s not ok, but it’s not as special as I think.
I was actually given a book by one therapist, and it’s pretty good except that it really insists that everything that is wrong with you stems from your childhood sexual assault experiences. Every personality flaw can be explained away by your survivor trauma. It also makes a point of telling us that we are not special. It actually says that feeling special is bad. I can kind of see the point; a lot of us feel “marked”, like we deserve sexual assault, like we were born to be used. The book defines this as “specialness”, and how we are not special because fully one half of all women are sexually assaulted as children.
Fully one half of all women, according this book, are sexually assaulted as children.
Really? Because the extremely few people on the planet who know fully what has happened to me are always horrified and shocked. They don’t nod & say “Oh, yes, when that happened to me, I…” No. None of that. One half?
The author of the book bases her “fact” on the idea that so much sexual assault of children goes unreported. Well, that’s true, but one half? With no actual data to back that up, that’s a hell of a statement to make.
I feel I have a pretty goddamned special perspective on life, and particularly on sex. I know I believe things & accept things other women most certainly do not. In fact, I have a hard time making friends with women because of my views about sexuality. This is changing, but the fact is, I am not entirely typical.
I see my new found submissiveness as a step in the right direction, because you can bet your sweet ass I am not going to get involved with anyone who is going to hurt me. I don’t crave sex anywhere near as much as affection, which is pretty hard for a bad ass like me to admit. And now we come to the other reason I am apparently deviant…
I’m becoming moral. Yep. No kidding.
I’ve always been kind of moral. I remember with horror the day that two doctors, both female, both pregnant, said I should have a baby too. To their credit, I was already in my 30s. “I’m not married,” I pointed out. To me, that was the only logical response. Both of them said, “Oh please, that’s not necessary any more. Every woman is capable of raising a child by herself. Men are superfluous.”
I sorta coughed. “I know I can’t raise a child by myself. I will not have one until I am married.”
Another doctor, male, happened to walk into the room at the same time & he said to me, “Well, your way is the way you’re supposed to do it, kid.” The other two doctors glared at him. I smiled.
I want to be married. I do. Eventually. I also have, shockingly, no trouble being a trophy wife, which means I have to be in better shape. This horrifies most of my female friends & of course my enlightened male friends. They assume wives are powerless pawns of a dominant male. I assert that wives and mothers are the rulers of households, the most dominant influence in a child’s life, and hence the primary engine of the future.
I technically should NOT have this view considering my childhood, but I see in normal, stable households that this is the case more often than not. People who come from such homes seem pretty darned well adjusted and pleasant to me. I can haz well adjusted??
Single moms do the best they can, and in situations where the husband is degrading everyone, abusing mom and kids, it’s certainly better to get the hell out. However, by definition they are doing it alone and cannot be the most dominant influence in a child’s life. They aren’t there. Mom or dad, nobody is home for most of the day. And even if mom & dad both work, if it’s just mom, it’s twice as hard to get a parent home if the kid needs it.
I used to pine after tortured musiciany boys in high school. No more. Now I yearn for stability. I guess I’m aging. I guess I am sick of wasting my time with men who expect me to do fricken’ everything. I want to be able to trust someone to not hurt me, to not screw up my house, to not hurt any children in our lives. I want to be adored for being good and kind and amusing and helpful. That’s what I’m best at. Well.
No, this isn’t new or right wing of me. I was like this as a kid (well, I was extremely right wing as kid, too, so you have a point). When I was 7, I announced to my family in the car on the way to Disneyworld that when I was 16, I was going to marry a prince. My father laughed & said the only way I was getting married at 16 was to a rich Texan. I was furious. I was going to be a princess, dammit. Oh yes, since I was 3 I had wanted to act & sing & dance and, when I was 5, I added writing to that list. But I was also perfectly willing to give it up, just like Princess Grace, to be, well, somebody’s princess.
Today, we call this a “trophy wife”. Have you noticed that most chicks on trophies have tiaras? Let’s call it what it really is. Princess. And if Disney has taught us anything, princesses sing and cook, plus they keep a tidy household. They also have fabulous wardrobes. It’s only fair with all the work they do.
I’m sick of cynically hating the whole Prince Charming concept. So what? Some guys actually don’t suck. Don’t you deserve to hold out for a non-sucky guy? Why settle for some condescending intellectual nitwit who wants to empower you by arguing with you daily about who does more housework? (Hint: it’s ALWAYS you, ladies. There is no such thing as an equal house. Nobody is programmed for that). Why settle for some enlightened equality-spouting thinky guy who insists you learn weirder and more, frankly, degrading sexual tricks to gain his intellectual interest while he‘s so busy thinking away? Because clearly, you aren’t interesting enough, all things being “equal”. Please note that he learns *nothing* & wants to turn over all the work to you, & possibly also an open minded girlfriend.
I suppose these days, these ideas make me a freak. Oh well. I’m a freak. You can call me Your Freakish Highness.