Sarah Maria Griffin is a poet and author of NOT LOST. When I saw Sarah ‘live’ at an event facilitated by Lingo Fest, I thought she was a gift. Anyway, while I was busy simultaneously imploding and exploding about the Stanford rape case, unbeknownst to me at the time, so was Sarah. There is a substantial distance between our ages. She is spring I am autumn. Our anger the same our expression of it different. Not only did I love that but I believed the difference to be very important. I also love how she expresses herself. I think the phrase ‘it’s a generational thing’ separates and excuses ignorance. So, I had an idea to weave our voices together, mixing up the threads. And Sarah very kindly gave me permission to do so. The large print indicates Sarah's words and voice (ambient fear, feminism and bruce banner). The small print mine (Til it happens to you).
ambient fear, feminism, and bruce banner
I don’t write about my feminism online very often
because I spend a great deal of time internalizing and reading.
today something broke
We tell each horror stories over the campfire of feminism.
Lads I knew have committed acts of sexual violence &
their mates will defend them to the bitter end.
The Standford rapist isn't on their radar.
I am comforted by knowing that other women see my experiences as a female body that live in public spaces:
but this is not enough anymore.
I am tired of knowing that more men will get away with rape because they’re like, a good sport.
In my home a couple of years ago, a very young boy of four or five walked over to my dog and kicked him. My dog yelped then came scurrying over, jumped up on the couch beside me shaking. The young boy smiled. Quietly and firmly I said “the next time you kick my dog, I’m going to smack you”. The female who had brought him to visit was up in arms “I’m surprised at you saying something like that to a little boy, sure he didn’t mean any harm”. I had stayed silent on the three previous and separate occasions he had done it.
The letter the standford rape survivor wrote is the same story girlfriends have whispered to me over pints, again and again like a dark spell.
If you’re sickened, imagine how we feel, whispering stories of assaults – old and new – over our fucking breakfasts
Numbed out. Exhausted.
Culture tells men they can get away with it. It shows them. Feminism is still considered a subculture a radical notion. We are a shoal of sharp toothed fish in an ocean.
I am also tired of being the bad guy for saying this.
The bad guy in general for being a feminist.
I try so hard to take the edge off & be palatable.
There are no words adequate enough in the English language to describe the amount of back breaking, soul destroying, excruciatingly lonely hard f**king work I have done on myself and in therapy to get to this point in my life. NONE. That is irrelevant. You tell me what’s important is that I am a nice person who does good things for other people. When a woman comes to my table and tells me she has found a cure for her depression
and that, that cure is to sit on a vaginal steamer for ten minutes a day, and I say “A way to go Sister, we need to celebrate” - you tell me I am being irresponsible. She needs the male dominated bastion of psychiatry to make her understand a man of his wealth and standing does not need to rape anyone. When the woman who has been slicing phrases out of my website and transporting it to her own while declaring herself the queen of sensitivity and empathy Tweets I hate stupid quotes I don’t see the point of them with an attachment – a quote about hating quotes. And because quotes have carried me, sometimes from one hour to next. Kept me holding on. Quotes from other rape survivors. When I tell you I hit BLOCK because I thought it was disrespectful attention seeking, will you tell me I am being too sensitive? will you tell me I’m not being understanding enough? Kind enough? compassionate enough? gentle enough? Spiritual enough? turning the other cheek enough? When I tell you I feel overwhelmed with an urge to smack Niamh Horan hard across the face for suggesting women are raped because they consume alcohol and aren't learning their lessons and that I want to grab her by her blouse and scream at her “there are men in nearly every office and business across this country who are being sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning, sexually harassing, sexually assaulting women. Women who will remain silent because they need the job to pay for a home for their children. Women who want that promotion. Women who will remain silent because they were paid for the inconvenience of having a manager squeezing her breasts while she sent an email at her desk in an office and told "Thanks be to God there was no harm done, eh?" Women who will cry in their armchairs watching their MALE Managing Partner or CEO or Chairman (the ones who paid them for no harm done) wowing the media with their forward thinking ‘yes, we have plans to promote more women. (nice women who do good things for other people and stay silent). A five year plan. Will you declare me a violent menopausal lunatic and expel me from the ya-ya sisterhood?
We are in an echo chamber where it feels like the world is changing, but it isn’t. the bros don’t care. they will get away free.
The problem is that rape is not just committed by individuals. It is systemic. culture tells men they can get away with it.
Male writers, ye keep writing about existential dread & all the cutesy art house moments your life has but what have you done for us?
I am tired of the echo chamber.
I love yis but we are only talking to one another. Rapes still happen every day. Assaults. Men don’t care
Trust that I am the angriest person you know.
these are the conversations I will have, quiet rage and sorrow, with my daughters.
nothing will change. women will protect eachother.
Brock Turner. The rapist. I began to read his father’s letter to the judge. “Sending him to prison is too harsh for 20 minutes of action”. I couldn’t read anymore. Not because it triggered me. Because all I could hear in my head was “sure what harm did he do?” “boys will be boys” “well drinking that much, she was asking for it” “don’t be ridiculous a man of his wealth wouldn’t need to rape anyone, sure couldn’t he pick any girl he wanted” “she was unconscious you can’t really call that rape” “sure why didn’t she just say no?” “He got a first in his accountancy exams, someone like that wouldn’t sexually assault anyone” “Its over now, there’s no need for anyone to know about it”
These are all statements I’ve heard coming out of the mouths of mothers who breastfed their sons. In private. In toilets. In their bedrooms. Because we are a civilized and progressive people, we don't show breast in public. Perhaps these statements are their revenge because the others were not born on time.
Another campus rape, a ripple of horror on social media. Another few women read, feel comforted. Weeks pass, it’s quiet – it happens again.
Culture tells men they can get away with it. It shows them. Where are the think pieces by male writers on rape culture? Ye think you’re so good a building things, how about dismantling for a change?
step up. you’ll whisper about how you’re not one of those lads, the lot of you, tail between your legs. write something.
Look at the culture you were raised in and how it continues to damage and harm women. Use you influence for good.
Step the fuck up, boys.
I am the Bruce fucking Banner of feminism.
Mothers don't allow their daughters permission to say no to anything and teach them from the womb their worth is weighted in their body “you don’t want to be a fatty now do you little girl?”
My feminism does not bring me anything other than clarity.
It is not a flower I wear on a sunny fucking day.
Are you uncomfortable? Yeah? Good.
I’m terrified, exhausted, and constantly at risk!
Sorry I forgot that writing about feminism would tarnish ur thorough exploration of the complexities of the masculine experience –