re-storying rape

graffiti from AU: a holy ET with the sacred heart ...In my dream, there was a part of myself I could trust — like, a role that part of me played; but I could trust me when I was in that role, could trust my instincts, trust my gut.

That dream is feeding me today: I’m listening for that part inside.

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I want to talk more about this later — for today, I’ll just get it started. On Friday, I read that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is falling apart, because the woman he assaulted may not always be honest.

And I thought, just because she lies, she can’t be raped? Just because she may not have been honest about how she got to this country, she can’t be sexually assaulted? Just because she associated with people who may be criminals, she can’t be sexually abused?

This is the problem with leaning on the criminal justice system to deal with (not even to mention end) rape and sexual violence: First of all, criminal justice only deals with the aftermath, doesn’t keep the rape, the assault, from happening in the first place; second,  “justice is a game that doesn’t necessarily uncover the truth.”

I don’t know the facts of this case. I don’t know that we will ever know them. But this is something I know: Rape, in this country, in our society, is a legal term, not an act. Don’t be someone who’s not squeaky-clean according to Western puritanical standards and get raped — because then, very likely, according to the courts, you won’t have been raped. Something else might have happened (oh, yes, probably something consensual — note that Strauss-Kahn doesn’t deny that there was a sexual encounter) but it won’t have been assault. Not according to the law.

Here’s a man who has a history of sexually predatory behavior, but he gets to walk out into the world for a $600 dinner — and what of the women he’s walked over?

This is my pessimism talking. Here’s the other side. We need to change the way we talk about rape and sexual violence. We need to change all the stories. We need to upend it from the inside out.

On this weekend when we are thinking about independence, what new or different stories do you want to tell? What could independence mean? What would the world look like if sexuality weren’t used as a weapon of power?

Thank you for all the ways you share your brilliance, for your inventive creativity, for the power of your words.

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