I am not one to think about spoons. Though I do have anxiety and have had moments of depression, I am usually not debilitated by these things to the point of “suffering from” them. Not only do I not think about how many spoons I have, I also don’t think much about my happiness in general. I observe the world and try to make sense of it and try to make it better. I do not think about how to make myself happy or content, and actually just typing that makes me uncomfortable. No one cares about my internal *feelings* and my *feelings* aren’t going to make the world a better place. Feelings are only useful for guiding me in understanding what is out there. I am self-aware enough to know my outlook is sad and other people should not adopt it. But, here I am, being this way nonetheless.
I can discuss anything. I do not shy away from topics of religion or politics. I do not shy away from hard conversations with people about their own harmful behavior, nor do I shy away from (perhaps overly) sharing my own experiences to help connect with others so the conversation might be fruitful for us both. I will talk about *anything* in great depth for hours. I am almost always left exhilarated and looking forward to the next conversation I will have. In other words, conversations usually give me more spoons.
But there is one area of discussion that is my Achilles heel. I won’t scare you, or myself, by describing the just how badly the end result can be. Most who understand the metaphorical meaning of having and losing spoons already know. So, yes, there is this Achilles heel of a discussion that comes up now and again and yet I continue to participate in it. That may seem like I’m asking for trouble, but it’s not so simple. No one else is saying what needs to be said, so I have to say it, even if I have to bleed to do it.
The topic is statutory rape and the responsibility that society heaps onto young girls (though boys are also victimized, usually by other boys). There are certain circles where I can discuss this and not lose spoons. But I usually only discuss it on social media when there is a frenzy of accusation and condemnation for victims of statutory rape. One post about how a 13 year old girl “spread her legs” will always bring others to form a mob with axes and pitch forks to take the “slut” down. The vitriol will continue and escalate until someone accuses the child of preying on older men to intentionally and joyfully ruin men’s lives.
Despite the fact that I do not think I can convince the mob otherwise, I speak up. I point out that the girl, at age 13, is a child. I point out that adult men should, at bare minimum, know whether or not the girl they are having sex with is a child. I point out that one of the signs of childhood sexual abuse is promiscuity and early sexual activity and that young girls may seek out sex because they are suffering. Just because a child is trying to do something they shouldn’t does not mean adults can encourage and participate in it or to take advantage of the situation without consequences.
But it seems my attempts at reason, compassion, and human decency only fuel the hatred for the young girl. The attacks on her become more vulgar and outlandish, accusing her of dressing wrong, “putting it in front of him”, asking for it, lying to get it… all of this to the point you’d think this child was a sex monster devouring innocent men with her vagina. And again… no evidence pertaining to this girl was ever presented other than the mother of the boy claiming in a comment that the girl lied about her age. From that we get magical vagina monster.
People say, “Well, the guy did bad but she should have her butt whooped for what she did.” (Bad grammar used for authenticity.) Even when a 40 year old, previously convicted sexual predator used an app to convince a fourteen year old girl to run away from home, the facebook brigade were livid with the young girl. They were foaming at the mouth screaming for her punishment while the man was a side note barely mentioned. “She knew what she was doing. She chose to steal that car. She spread her legs willingly.”
What is it about girls spreading their legs? Seriously, this is an important clue to the heart of the problem. Because where it is absolutely expected that if a boy is presented with the possibility of sex, he will act; women are forbidden from even “making” men think about sex. The assumption is that boys and men *can not* help but act on their arousal. They are powerless to the leg spreading of women everywhere. This is such a commonly held belief that it gets spewed all across social media without a second thought. Even when I point out how incredibly insulting to *good* men this ideology is, no one wants to think of it that way. Our society gives a free pass to men to fuck whatever makes their penis hard. “Go ahead guys, we know you can’t help it”. But women and even very young girls better never, ever do anything that might have an effect on a penis because we’ll all know she was asking for it. And if she’s ever had sex before, it doesn’t matter if it was abuse or rape, she’s no angel and knows what she was getting into.
This disgusting, nauseating, spoon-stealing dialog is one of the biggest reasons why victims of abuse, assault, and rape do not come forward. This vilification of girls gets in the head of girls and women (as seen from the fact that most commenters vilifying girls are female) and makes them question their own responsibility in abusive situations. It also makes them question their self-worth once they are no longer “pure”. It is toxic to women, poisoning many in such a way that they perpetuate the sickness, pass it down like a moth-eaten heirloom that smells so bad of mildew that it won’t wash off once it touches you.
There is almost a fear of critical thinking on this issue, as if the most terrifying thing imaginable is that if people don’t condemn women’s sexual independence then sluts will rise up from the cradle and eat their husbands alive.
I am angry, as I cannot help but be after having such futile discussions. But I am also bleeding from wounds I can’t seem to heal. Being furious requires an immense amount of energy, but I’m like a speedboat going toward my target with the hull ripped open. I need to speak up for all girls everywhere. I need to add my voice to offset the damage. I need to speak up to support the girls and women silently reading and feeling shame that should not be theirs to feel. I need to keep speaking. I need to. I need to. But, I am nearly drowning now.
I have written a series of books about childhood sexual abuse and recovery. I have said in those books what I can not say in a facebook post, what I can not even say in a blog post. I have told a number of stories about how abuse can happen in different ways with different effects. I have written about a character who became promiscuous after her abuse. I wrote those books to help bring insight into what it is like psychologically to have to deal with the physical aspect of abuse while also the hurtful assumptions of our society holds for women. The pain and circumstances portrayed in Winter Seedlings were based on real life experiences of young girls (myself included), though the plot was not precisely the same. I have never said publicly that Winter Seedlings contained my own story, but it is true. And that was my final spoon. I can say no more about it.
I’m a fool who believes that the truth matters. Honesty and compassion will change the world. But now I am out of spoons and have to step out of the ring until I get more. I need someone to call me and talk about anything but this. Tell me you agree if you want, but then let’s talk about kittens and the universe. Help me get back to shore.
I hope this helps someone else. I hope that it is enough that *I* do not think you are a whore. *I* do not think you made him rape you. *I* know our system is more broken than you will ever be. Whatever power is in a single person’s understanding, take it from me and try to be good to yourself. ❤