on being woman (explicit)

March 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm (Things I'm thinking about) (, , , , )

the lyrics slam into my bedroom, smashing into every crevice, every corner, crawling with its insidious fingers over my bed until the entire room seethes with the sadistic words. the words wretch, a hate-filled debasement of woman. this is no ordinary misogynistic rap. it is an intensely graphic description of rape and abuse. and a glorification of both. the words don’t seep. they rip through every part of my being.

my mouth fills with bile and i cannot take any more. i have had my fill and am sick to my stomach. my hands shake and all that fills my mind is “this has to stop”. i walk downstairs, my vision blurred and stand staring at my husband who looks up and asks if i’m okay. the words don’t even come out. it’s ripped through me and now it’s tearing at my skin, making me want to scream, to roar with primal fear STOP!

I draw a breath because I know this must be handled right. And so I reach into the deepest part of myself, walk across the street and knock on his door. He comes slowly, nonchalantly, and I look past him at his 2 year old daughter standing in the lounge. “I’m having some trouble with your music,” I say. I’m shaking and I cannot breathe. “I find the words really offensive and it’s so loud it keeps slamming against my house and filling my whole bedroom.” He offers to turn the volume down.

but his calm response masks the rage that i’ve incurred in him. it’s not only his music that seethes now. its fed him, wrapped him, rapt him, enclosed around him and he seethes. against me. because who am i, woman, to dare? i’ve shamed him. and he later tells my husband, she should never have said that to me. next time you tell me. but not her.

and i am positioned. framed within his twisted hyper-masculine culture as woman. he spits it out just like his music vomits it. i am positioned as the one his music rapes, his songs hate, his brother hits, his friend screams at and degrades and abuses night after night. i am positioned as nothing. i am nothing.

and i am filled with that primal fear of woman. that lack of power in the face of overwhelming hatred, of physical retreat in the face of a strong hand.  there are days i walk these streets isolated by the eyes following me. that do all the things to me my mind dreads. and i pretend not to see. to walk on by. voices call out to me – challenging, mocking, taunting. i pretend not to hear. because i cannot entertain the fears these things raise in me. daily.

today i am positioned as woman. as woman alongside the wife who was beaten, the girlfriend who was date raped, the teenage mother, the worndown, despised, degraded. today my experience of living in this neighborhood shifted. today my interaction with violence – or the ever-threat of it – changed. non-violence, pacifism, and peacemaking become less theoretical and more personal – my interaction with these thoughts and ideas and philosophies can no longer be abstract because my relation to them has become embodied. i do not interact with them from a distance, in an event, in a moment or in a experience; they have become tied to my being, my walking, my presence. how do i do non-violence, how do i practice pacifism, how do i be a peace-maker when violence – the threat, the call, the power of it – is tied inextricably to my being WOMAN.

today my experience shifted. all because i couldn’t hold down the bile as the words drove deep into my bedroom.

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8 Comments

  1. David Fee said,

    Thank you for saying this. Apart from that, I’m kind of speechless.

  2. Crissy said,

    also speechless… except for thank you.

  3. Melissa Stewart said,

    a courageous and peaceful response, thank you for sharing. Sounds like this man does need women to say no to him. I think men also need other men to show them a better way.

  4. Mike T said,

    This makes me really angry, at the filth that some people think is acceptable. When you see a clear picture of what society is like beneath the façade, it reminds me of a quote by Charles Spurgeon “You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.”

  5. Helene said,

    Thanks Val for putting words on feelings I often feel living in the world we live in, no matter how educated, strong, independent I am on the outside. the primal fear is always there and it makes me SO MAD!

  6. on why rape [and violence to women in general] HAS to be taken seriously, part 1: attack on my wife | Irresistibly Fish said,

    […] the first being this very hectic one where she shares a reaction to some of the music and attitude and behaviour we were confronted with when we lived in Kensington, Philly last year: On being woman [explicit] […]

  7. youhavemyword said,

    Courageous. Raw. Needed.

  8. on passivism, pacifism and peace | On Afternoons and Coffeespoons said,

    […] people with Non-violence”, a confusion which came to a head one day as I sat in my room listening to a neighbor’s misogynistic rap. At that time, my interaction with violence – or the ever-threat of it – changed. […]

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