Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like


One of the many ironies of my rape at the hands of for umm, lack of a better term, total douchebag, was that he was a self-proclaimed feminist, a man who would be honored to be compared to Phil Donahue. My dad, one of the most mild-mannered individuals to walk the earth, HATED Phil Donahue (my dad hated almost no one) and would shake his fist when he came on television and had a theory that he'd cast an evil spell over Marlo Thomas to get her to marry him. She's so adorable, he'd say. How could she fall for him?! I'd laugh -- Phil had done me no harm and while he could be self-serious and a tad condescending, he wasn't Satan and or the aforementioned douchebag. My rapist had a penchant for mind games -- to a sixteen year old girl, this was the heighth of excitement and home sweet home given that my home was a place where mind games were as exotic as macaroni and cheese. Even so, I was way out of my league with the new evil dude, the way a community theater actor would feel about being plunked down on Broadway without warning.
Even though I could do the song and dance, think Bob Fosse in All That Jazz, preparing for his day -- a handful of dexies, a few drops of Visine, and that crazy-ass smile -- It's showtime!, I didn't understand what would happen to me if I stayed. And what did happen to me when it was clear that I was eyeing the door. My first instinct when I met him was that he was an abusive asshole. Shock, surprise, I was right from the get-go. From the dredges of memory, I can vaguely recall a NOW rally we attended together. This was the late eighties and feminism was as fashionable as wearing lederhosen. Still, I supported the cause then as I always have. And so, it seemed, did the guy who would eventually rape me. I hadn't learned that Ted Bundy had worked at a rape crisis center, didn't understand the depths of duplicity and hatred that raged all around me. I don't remember much about the day except the presents I received from the Wicked One -- two pins, one that said This Is What A Feminist Looks Like and the other that said, Women Can Beat Men At Anything. Of course, these were sitting next to a display of pins about domestic violence and sexual assault. It would only be the beginning of a lifetime of mixed messages, ones I'd have to decipher for myself, although I have to say that I've never worn those pins or any others; I don't like the marks they leave in your clothes and how they can prick you when you least expect it.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head." Sally Kempton
Cocktail Hour
Drinking essay collection suggestion: Grace (Eventually) Anne Lammot
Benedictions and Maledictions
Four more days until The Sopranos airs!

16 comments:

Cheri said...

Michelle, that is probably THE BEST picture of you so far. Looks like New Mexico =D.



Yours and Sheila's posts about feminism is inspiring, to say the least. Someone told me once, maybe it was you, that magazines like The Ladies Home Journal would give tips on how to be the perfect woman, obeying your husband, taking care of your body and always being there for his needs (Stepford Wives style).

Betty Friedan said...

Marlo Thomas' father, Danny Thomas, was from the Detroit area. I had a huge crush on him when he was on "Make Room for Daddy." I'd get all my ironing done during that show.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hypocrisy is rampant in our society. The predators practice it best.

F. Lee Bailey said...

I'll defend almost anyone, with certain exceptions. For instance, I won't defend anybody involved in a gang bang.

Diane Ackerman said...

Why do you think women are attracted to that beautiful beast[in Jean Cocteau's classic film "Beauty and the Beast"]? The obvious answer is the sexual power of the beast, which promises to be enormous and terrifying, which is very exciting and stimulating. Socially and sexually, there's something deeply gratifying to most women about being swept away, and not just because it allows you not to feel responsibility for it--although that was certainly important in the fifties. When you stand at the ocean and see all that raging power--it's a thrill. To this day, when I fly in an airplane and it sets down and throws those engines in reverse and the whole plane trembles and roars, it thrills me, I love it. There may be fewer avenues for women to assert their sexuality. The beast is that sexual power, along with the sense that somewhere deep inside him lurks a vulnerability which she can see, she can touch. That gives her power. Look how many women fall in love with cowboys--whether he really is a Marlboro man on the ranch or not--someone who is tough and silent; and she alone is going to find her way to his heart. There's something seductive about taming the wild beast in him, which, of course, makes for an unhappy love affair, because if you're a cowboy you just have to ride off into the sunset. Or, if she does tame him, then he wasn't a real cowboy after all. So she loses either way.

Meadow Soprano said...

I took a course in Feminist authors at Columbia. The one I think is the biggest crock of shit is Catherine McKinnon. Her philosophy a verbal assault just doesn't hold legal water. And thanks for your support of the Sopranos, Michelle. I hope we can exceed your expectations in the final season. Thanks for all your support.
Best wishes always,
Meadow Soprano

Ted Nugent said...

Get in that kitchen and make me some chocolate-chip cookies!

Anonymous said...

My sister was date raped when quite young. Nine months later she had a baby and had to put it up for adoption. She will carry that emotional burden for the rest of her life. The father of that baby walks away with out a thought of regret.

dm said...

Brilliant post!

dummer said...

genies pose!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I agree with Cheri. Beautiful picture. Best one yet. Beats posing with a pooper scooper like someone else I know.

I've never been someone to make a good first impression, and from what I've read here, that's not such a bad thing afterall.

As for NOW rallies, you've got me thinking about "Together Toes," a gal I dated in college. I feel really bad about that situation.

Laura said...

Sad story. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens way to often. I think that mentally speaking, being raped by someone you know is way worse than by a stranger because in the back of your mind, you beat yourself up with thoughts like "I could have prevented this if only . . ." I feel your pain.

Jason said...

When you get a chance, can you point the sidebar link for madthoughts to www.madthoughts.net? Thanks!

Herman Northrop Frye said...

"Prick you when you least expect it" is a very good line, Michelle, because it ties in with the idea of rape.

Herman Northrop Frye said...

What a title: " I Was Raped by a Feminist," by Michelle Brooks. That's better than "I Was Raped by a Douchebag," by Michelle Brooks.

eric 313 said...

I am glad, relieved, thankfull, etc. to see someone who can share this pain and move on the way you have. In all aspects of life, you have moved past trauma and kept going. The burdens that we carry slow a lot of us down and discourage us from paths we take. You say "keep the faith" all the time. You happen to be an exemplar of that statement. You stayed your moral and intellectual course and check you out now; you have the chance to critique and guide young people with the type of kindness and wisdom only forged in the hottest flames of abuse and disillusionment. Rock on, m!

I was waiting for your post when I read this--a week or so late. I could read it five hundred years from now and it would still mean the same thing to me.