Posted as part of Blank Noise: Blog-a-thon.
I wanted to do my part (even though it’s past deadline). Throw a penny into the fountain. Add my rain to the ocean. That sort of thing.
In college, I used to be part of this wonderful organization called RVAP that shaped how I thought about sexual violence, street harassment, gender, feminism, women, men, sisterhood, girl power, the color-pink. It’s there that I earned the edge to my feminism. I have all these warm memories of sitting outside on the Pentacrest lawn in the fading, evening light, folding T-shirts from the year’s clothesline project, laughing and joking with other cool women, feeling that wonderful, smiling calm after laughing too hard. We had lots of support in those days in our campus for our rallies and vigils. Not all of it welcome.
I remember this one particular police officer who would always waddle over, stop by our table and make a point of saying something obnoxious (so begins my deep distrust and dislike of cops). I remember one year, he said, “I understand what you ladies are trying to do here. About not blaming the victim and all. But what I want to say is that there are two people involved in rape cases, not just one.” I tended to avoid him.
For a city almost completely devoid of violent crimes*, Iowa City has more than its share of street harassment. Lots of drunken frat boys. Plenty of assholes. One of my last years in Iowa, one night I went by this space in downtown Iowa city where you can always catch a game of chess. Something I love doing. I had been going there for years, and knew most of the players.
One night I played against this dude who I had never seen before, which wasn’t particularly unusual. He won. As I had done a thousand times before, I thanked him for the game and said I enjoyed playing him. He grabbed his dick, grinned and said, “I bet you did.” I grimaced, got up and left, feeling angry and afraid. Feeling angry so I don’t feel afraid. I didn’t go back the rest of the summer.
There's plenty I want to say about how I want men to stand up for women more. I want women to forgive each other more; bitch less. I don't care what she was wearing. I don't care how drunk she was. I hope I am not saying anything new, anything radical. Haven't these become cliches yet? Isn't it time to shout it's not okay? I sure hope so.
*(During my time there, I remember a couple of murders; suicides; guy who everyone thought was drunk, but was really bleeding from a head wound because someone stole his beer; high-profile rapes from important athletes)