I am the woman your mother warned you about; because my feminism threatens her existence.
I am the woman your mother warned you about; because she didn’t say YES to the invite, the open door, the unlocked gate.
She stayed in the panic room of her fear, smashing the glass of her fire alarm psyche, ripping herself to shreds on the inside every night as she lay next to a man who barely even acknowledge her existence anymore, and waking in the morning to put everyone together, even though she was completely shattered.
I am the woman your mother warned you about; because my feminism is rambunctious, a lion’s head, mouth open, teeth bared, soul too… too… too much to process, too big for my body, so I let her breath, and see the light of day before we go deep again; too loud so I am shunned and a warning label slapped on my too much body, by other women, that found comfort in the wasteland of societal conformity.
I am the woman your mother warned you about; because it would be a crime most heinous and foul to have her own child celebrate his or her own bodies, to move freely in this world, to take up as much space as they wanted unapologetically, to teach others to do the same, and to go to war with those who sought to shame.
I am the woman your mother warned you about; because the big teeth and the loud roar of her trauma growls gravel down her throat, the roots deep shame in her sacral chakra weep, ‘I can’t, I am a woman, my period is disgusting, my body is a sinful temptress, my intellect is problematic, my ambition is wasted on my gender, I am not worth equal pay, and because it is shameful and gross to be a woman, I take this in as my truth, I AM SHAMEFUL, AND GROSS, AND UNWORTHY.
I can’t, because, I am a woman, and I am beholden to my husband, he paid the bills while I stayed home and cared for the children, the way it is supposed to be- right? Right?
I can’t question, because I am a woman and I feel too deeply, I am far too sensitive, I just need to get over it, so I must never dig too deep. The ache begins when I steal a peek at freedom from this self-imposed prison sentence, and it wont go away until I am two bottles deep in wine, while everyone is asleep and I am falling… apart. I am my own jailer and I hate myself for it, and I hate myself because the world hates me and they have told me my entire life, at every turn, it is everywhere and in everything, being a woman is an abomination, loving your body makes you a slut, loving pleasure makes you a whore, not always having it together makes you a hideous mess, breaking down is interpreted as you being susceptible and weak, being drunk means you had it coming to you, walking down the street with breasts and a vagina means you were asking for it. It isn’t safe. It isn’t safe. It isn’t safe.’
I know, Sister. I know it isn’t safe, out there. Hell, we aren’t even safe in our own homes. Nothing is ever a sure bet, really. But, I am willing to assume the risk if the reward is being stripped of every label the collective THEY placed on us. I will go to war for you even though you raised your son’s to name me, cage me, and view my feminism as wicked.
I know what fear looks like from all angles, as I have been ravaged by many treacherous men and women. It changes you, you know that.
I know you know that. Our body is a fire alarm, all triggered and shit. We carry our keys like blades between our fingers in open public places, we have rules of engagement, don’t make direct eye contact, buddy system, dont wear low cut shirts, dont wear tight pants, we cant wear dressed-up drives the menfolk crazy and they no longer are able to reasons with the head in their shoulders, if you do you’re asking for it, you had it coming to you, they were just having a little fun, smile more, especially after they rape you, also say thank you, you dont get to be a disaster when they’re finished with the erased-used-societally ruled pages-of our body, we gotta… keep it classy-you know?
And, I know that you know.
And whereas, I can understand and empathize with your fear; I must tell you that what you are calling logic, is actually toxicity. What you are calling protection, is actually fear projection. What you are calling other women who chose to leave the prison of their trauma and shame, and lead lives ferociously defending and compelling women to do the same- it makes you worse than the patriarchal system that put in place to keep us in their wounded perspectives, in OUR PLACE.
There is a reason your mother warned you about women like me, and none of them were made with a sound mind and body.
Not when, on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States alone.
Not when we live in a world where our youth are at the highest risk of assault.
Not when, the stats say, “The majority of sexual assault victims are under 30.”
(Statistic is broken down into five age groups. 15% of sexual violence victims are 12-17, 54% of victims are 18-34, 28% of victims are 35-64, and 3% are 65+.)
Choices aren’t made of sound mind and body when our bodies and minds are muddied with trauma at tender ages.
*12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
*Ages 65 and older are 92% less likely than 12-24 year olds to be a victim of rape or sexual assault, and 83% less likely than 25-49 year olds.
Women and Girls Experience Sexual Violence at High Rates
I understand why you warned your children about women like me as it is considered a death wish to unfurl yourself from the fetal position and rise, to face the enemy of self and a shaming culture that doesnt give enough of a shit about you to see the scars he left on your skin, in broad daylight, you just wanted to walk in the park, and next thing you know you become anther 1 in the 6 American women that fall victim to an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted). For those that want the facts.
FACT: Millions of women in the United States have experienced rape.
*As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
(Young women are especially at risk.)
*82% of all juvenile victims are female.
*90% of adult rape victims are female.
*Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
*Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence.
*Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely.
*Men and Boys Are Also Affected by Sexual Violence.
*Statistics reveal that male college students are at a higher risk than non-students of the same age to experience sexual assault or rape.
*Male students ages 18-24 are five times more likely than non-students of the same age to experience sexual violence.
*Millions of men in the United States have been victims of rape.
*As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape.
*About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
*1 out of every 10 rape victims are male.8
Transgender Students Are at Higher Risk for Sexual Violence
*21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males.
*Sexual Violence Can Have Long-Term Effects on Victims
*The likelihood that a person suffers suicidal or depressive thoughts increases after sexual violence.
*94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape.
*30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape.10
33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide.
*13% of women who are raped attempt suicide.
*Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.
*People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public.
*3.4 times more likely to use marijuana
*6 times more likely to use cocaine
*10 times more likely to use other major drugs
*Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers.
*38% of victims of sexual violence experience work or school problems, which can include significant problems with a boss, coworker, or peer.
*37% experience family/friend problems, including getting into arguments more frequently than before, not feeling able to trust their family/friends, or not feeling as close to them as before the crime.
*84% of survivors who were victimized by an intimate partner experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
79% of survivors who were victimized by a family member, close friend or acquaintance experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
*67% of survivors who were victimized by a stranger experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
*Victims are at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Studies suggest that the chance of getting pregnant from one-time, unprotected intercourse is between 3.1-5%, depending on a multitude of factors, including the time of month intercourse occurs, whether contraceptives are used, and the age of the female. The average number of rapes and sexual assaults against females of childbearing age is approximately 250,000.1
Thus, the number of children conceived from rape each year in the United States might range from 7,750—12,500.12
This is a very general estimate, and the actual number may differ. This statistic presents information from a number of different studies.
*Native Americans Are at the Greatest Risk of Sexual Violence
On average, American Indians ages 12 and older experience 5,900 sexual assaults per year.
*American Indians are twice as likely to experience a rape/sexual assault compared to all races.
*41% of sexual assaults against American Indians are committed by a stranger; 34% by an acquaintance; and 25% by an intimate or family member.
*Statistically, the average number of sexual assaults by race, per year. Races include white (180,000), black (25,000), hispanic (40,000), and other (20,000). Total is approximately 290,000.
*Sexual Violence Affects Thousands of Prisoners Across the Country
*An estimated 80,600 inmates each year experience sexual violence while in prison or jail.
*60% of all sexual violence against inmates is perpetrated by jail or prison staff.
*More than 50% of the sexual contact between inmate and staff member—all of which is illegal—is nonconsensual.
*Sexual Violence in the Military Often Goes Unreported
*14,900 military members experienced unwanted sexual contact in the fiscal year ending September, 2016.
*4.3% of active duty women and 0.6% of active duty men experienced unwanted sexual contact in FY16.
*Of the 14,900 survivors, 43% of females and 17% of males reported.
(Statistic Source: http://www.rainn.org)
We all get muddied, no matter the gender. Statistics show that more women than men fall victim to assault. It doesn’t make the thing that happened irrelevant, lesser than in any way, shape, or form, and it doesn’t mean that we, as women, dont have a long way to go in regard to raising our young men and even our partners to be feminists as well-proud of their bodies, outspoken about wrong doings and injustices, activists and advocates of healing and its power, sharing the things that hold our hearts prisoner, breaking up with this idea that we must police our humanity Allow society to. We all have much to learn, ladies; we have so much to unearth and to become from.
Susan M. Conway is an acclaimed fiction novelist, blogger, and mother of two. She resides in Northeast Georgia, where she lives a quiet life. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and cooking for her family. Susan is a passionate and fiery social justice warrior, mental health advocate, and mentor in the BDSM, Kink, and Fetish lifestyles, striving to empower, embolden, and open healthy dialogues about a variety of social issues. You can read more of her writing on Facebook.