pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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Out Of Focus

You ever have one of those days where you rush through each thing, feel each frustration and little joy, wear yourself out and wear yourself thin, and then at the end of it, you hear the steady bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz of the alarm that wakes you up, and you wake up and realize everything that just happened was a dream and that now you actually do have to wake up and rush through each thing, feel each frustration and little joy, etc. ad infinitum?

And as you shake your weary head from the doubling echo effect of dream world intruding on real world and real world intruding on dream world you spot the inconsistencies between the two. You don’t actually live in that house any longer. You drive a different car. You have a different job.

Whatever.

You separate out the parts that don’t actually fit in real world and set them to the side. Maybe to discard, maybe to inspect, but mostly to get them out of the way, because you have to stumble into the bathroom and pee. You have to wake up all the way and make the kids breakfast. Make lunches to pack for school bags. Get to a meeting. Work your shift.

And this fuzzy, out of focus grasp on reality has to straighten out just so you can get the next part done.

I had one of those last night.

And I set apart the things that did not fit.

When I was picking out a t-shirt to wear, one of the parts stood up in my brain and insistently waved at me. “Why don’t I fit?” it said to me. “I am reasonable.”

I picked up that part with tweezers and set it to the side and told it “not now, Dream-Truth. I don’t have time for you. You don’t belong in the Real World, that’s all. You’re not part of things. Now hush up while I get stuff done.”

It shuffled and sat down.

It was mumbling to itself while I got the kids dressed. A red shirt for P, a blue shirt for Pie. Jeans because the weather is still somewhere between wet Spring and ferocious Summer here in Georgia.

I ignored it.

It was fuming while I was whisking eggs, and pouring some milk. P’s not going to eat the eggs, I’ll offer him some hummus after coming back from dropping Pie off. I could feel the Dream-Truth “AHEM” in the background.

I dropped Pie off at school and got back in the car with P. The Dream-Truth said simply, “but…” when I slid the key into place.

Finally I stopped. “What, Dream-Truth? What do you need to say?”

“Why am I not true?” It looked at me plaintively. Images from the dream flashed across my inner eye.

In my dream, mental illness was treated as the physiological condition it was. It was included on insurance forms. People talked about how they were feeling and what they were doing for their mental fitness much as they now talk about their physical fitness.

We understood that people have depressions or manias the same way that people have any other sick period.

We took care of each other. Dropped off a casserole when someone was feeling blue. Took a friend out to dinner when they were feeling lonely.

When someone felt overwhelmed, we saw their mental exhaustion the same way we saw physical exhaustion. We made accommodations for it the way we do for physical strength. We understood that chronic or permanent mental health conditions were not reflections on the human worthiness of a person, but instead, a notation on who they are.

We did not separate out neurology from physiology, in short.
And I closed my eyes.

“I’m sorry, Dream-Truth. It’s true. You’re true. It’s just… it’s not the way it is out here. You’ll have to slip away for now. Come back again another day. I hope to meet you in the real world. You are beautiful. Thank you. I’m sorry.”

The Dream-Truth sat there for a minute. Still radiating it’s out of focus grasp on reality just a little as it’s fingers loosened. “Yeah. But,” it said wistfully, “you can share me, can’t you? Maybe if more people had this dream I could arrive faster?”

“Yeah. Yes. Totally. I will. I promise.”


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I Just Can’t

I have one more thing to say. After that, I think I’m done on this subject for a while. Frankly, there are an awful lot of people saying it better than I am, and staying on it. I’ve got fatigue from it. I need to think about different things to face my day and put the best me forward for myself, or else face hopelessness. That doesn’t really do anything for anybody.

So.

In the wake of Steubenville. In the wake of the knowledge that there were purportedly further pictures on the boys’ phones of at least two other girls face down and inanimate-looking on that same carpet. In the wake of the fact that those pictures seem to no longer exist. In the wake of the rumors that there have been other girls that this Rape Crew treated sadistically as sub-human toys. In the wake of the knowledge that there are 232.2 rapes per day in the US, on average. In the wake of the knowledge that 54% of rapes go unreported in the US. In the wake of so much that I can’t even really find a stopping point, or hell a middle point in showing you what you need to see if you haven’t worked out that feminism is needed right now.

In the wake of all of that, I’ve heard a question or questions from many men, and even some women who have been fortunate to somehow not receive as much of the culture that the rest of us are permeated in.

The questioning thought’s path is, or can be paraphrased to “why don’t women stop this violence? Why don’t they report it when it happens? If rape and sexual assault are so horrific, why do they seem so unsure that it even happened and it wasn’t just a mundane sexual activity that they participated in and then felt retroactively unsure about?”

There’s a lot of reasons, really. This is about that “rape culture” term that you’ve heard thrown around so much lately. The term means that our culture is one that is supportive of sexual assault happening, denying that it happens when it does, blaming the victim themselves if they come forward to report, then finally protecting those who perpetrate, want to perpetrate, or will perpetrate as people who should celebrated and protected.

How are we supportive of sexual assault happening? The better question is how are we not, but fine. Let’s approach this one. We are supportive of sexual assault happening because we use terms that objectify women. We say they are a “sure thing,” or a “dog.”  We use terms like “friendzone” to refer to a condition where a man was nice to a woman, and the woman did not respond by responding sexually.

friendzone

We quite literally use images of women being victimized sexually to sell men products. I don’t mean pictures that depict fetish subculture consensual sexuality, either, but actual women-as-sexual-victim ads (a lot of the ads in question are low on this post, but be sure to read the whole thing, it’s really well written).

Shit. You know. I fleshed this out. I’ve been sitting on it for a couple days. That’s how I do things. I have a draft or three saved of ideas, and I come back to the one I’m working on regularly. Adding to it here and there in between my real, and very important job of being a mother. Every hour that it sits here, though, I come across another news story. I come across another article, or three, or seven. I come across another fresh pain that I need to add to the pile.

I just can’t anymore. If you don’t see rape culture? If you can’t figure it out for what it is? That’s willful ignorance at this point.

Google it. I don’t know what to say. Figure it out. Just for fuck’s sake, stop doing it, stop saying that the victim was the one responsible for it happening, and stop perpetuating the space that makes it possible for it to happen. I know that it’s this hard horror to wrap your brains around and you want to make sense of it and keep yourself safe. I know that trying to figure out reasons why it happened to some other her makes you feel like you can keep it from happening to you. That’s just not how it works, though.

I can’t keep writing about it.

And my original point? The reason I started to write this whole thing in the first place? I wanted to say that if someone comes to you and says “hey, this thing happened…” give them the space to talk about it. Don’t push them. Let them tell you at their speed. Help them get help if they ask for it (and if they don’t and it really seems like they need it? gently push for it). Don’t push them for the conclusion that satisfies you, either. If they don’t want to report, understand that this is a culture that does not support people who report, and that they are doing the best they can, and support them. If they do want to report, stand by them, they’re going to need you. Don’t offer to saddle up with your friends and create some street justice, either. If they do want that (and some do) then gently push them toward the legal options instead.

Here’s some good stuff to read about recovering from rape and sexual assault trauma.

Here’s some direct support online.

Or you can call 1.800.656.HOPE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I love you. You can do this. I believe in you.

ETA: For solidarity’s sake, and perhaps as explanation as to why I’m done with this, I’d also like to offer the not that surprising fact that I am also a survivor of rape. I was raped once as a child by a stranger, and I was raped once as an adult by an acquaintance. This isn’t me flashing my creds. It’s more… hey. I’ve been there. There is life beyond it.