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Hydra: The Monster and the Sword

Hydra: The Monster and the Sword

Aug 05

Who chases us from the darkness?
[Trigger Warning: mention of rape]

Feminism has shown me horror’s face, and across the map of our culture is scrawled in red, here be monsters.

As a child, I had both the instinctive fear of monsters and bogey men and the learned, practical fear of people who lurk in dark alleys and drive white vans. There were only a handful of things I knew that these people did, and despite not really understanding them, I knew to be afraid; mugging, kidnapping, murder – horrible, evil acts whose logistics were murky but whose imagined effects were terrifying.

I lived in a fairly friendly suburb. Sure, there were a few kooks, some people you kept your distance from, but kids played in the street after school and there were billy cart races on Australia Day. The things hiding under my bed seemed much more terrifying than the hooded man from the ‘stranger danger’ videos we were shown in school.

When I got older my parents lengthened the leash a little, allowing me to take trips unchaperoned to the city with friends. Mum’s work had exposed me to addicts and the like, and I developed good instincts for telling who was dangerous and who was not. Still, a natural paranoia, combined with years of ingrained messages from the media, had my hackles raising every time I passed an alleyway or an idle group of young men.

At some point people stopped mentioning the Safety Houses we used to learn about. Too many pedophiles signing up for the program, was all that I heard, and my parents gave one another knowing looks and warned me away from the smiling yellow stickers gracing doors and letter boxes.

I had learned the word ‘rape’, and can still remember the stories I read then of young girls held captive in restrooms and abandoned streets, held down by strangers and unable to scream. It was a black-and-white crime, a horror built from a handful of stock scenarios. There was no ambiguity, no debate about consent, just the knowledge that this is what happens when girls go down dark streets alone.

I learned other things, too, building up a stockpile of knowledge for when I was old enough for it to be useful: don’t leave your drink unattended; don’t accept a ride from someone you don’t know; don’t drink too much at parties; never be alone.

I never thought about the men in these situations – if they were given corresponding advice, or if they were forming their own images of the horror in the darkness, if they had been stockpiling advice from childhood and using it to mould villains from whispers and glimpses of the evening news. I still don’t know if little boys fear in the same way as little girls, or if they are blessed with merely cupboard monsters until they’re old enough to ‘man up’ and move on. Men are taught cockiness while girls are taught fear.

Despite there never being a point in my life when I have not identified as a feminist, it wasn’t until college that my feminism developed a harder edge, become a more full part of myself instead of just one of a vague bundle of unrealised identifiers. Feminism put new faces onto the rapist who had formed in my mind’s eye. Stories and statistics reshuffled the vision I’d been given by films and television until what had once been a dirty shadow-figure in a black hood had become a hydra, each head holding a different relationship to its victim.

Men get raped. Married people get raped by their spouses. One in six women experience sexual assault. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Eighty-five percent of sexual assaults are not reported, with only one in ten of those that are resulting in a guilty verdict. Women can also be abusers.

Still, knowing stats and demographics was also security. I’m white. I’m middle class. These things make me less ‘at risk’ than others.

Bisexual women are more than twice as likely to become victims of sexual violence than heterosexual or lesbian women.

There’s a Louis C.K. joke about how, statistically, men are the number one threat to women. Humour out of truth, truth in the fact that our monsters may well be anyone we meet. Who needs horror films when statistics state that there is a monster behind the face of at least one person we know?

We are forced to reassess everything, to examine closely the characters of those we know until, with despair, we must whisper to ourselves, I cannot guarantee this person would not have sex with someone without consent. People who are not villains may still be criminals because consent is not framed in terms of a definite ‘yes’, but an ambiguous ‘no’. That is our reality.

I had been lied to about the face of sexual assault. The rapist in my head – a filthy criminal headed for justice for his crimes – is just a construct, a lullaby. The real monster is someone’s boss, someone’s friend, someone’s sibling, and they are not going to pay. The real monster is a teenager who thinks pornography is life. The real monster thinks ambiguity is freedom. The real ‘monster’ is not a monster – just our fellow man.

The shadowy figure in the alley may exist for some but they are still a fiction for most, a dark terror on the edge of our mind, only as real as the shark which may or may not be waiting when you dip your toes into the water. But numbers do not lie, and the numbers tell us that someone we know will be raped, and someone we know may, just may, be a rapist.

The other human monsters of my burgeoning world still exist, of course, but they are still the shadow-things. It is not inevitable that someone in my life will be touched by murder, or kidnapping, or war crime. But the numbers do not lie, and they press on my chest and make me morbid.

I do not regret feminism putting this hydra in front of me, for it also makes me armed. Feminism tells us that we must teach men and boys not to rape. But until that happens, until the hydra has been deconstructed, dissected and destroyed, it also equips us with caution and instincts, teaching us to know thy enemy.

Pop out the eyeballs by jamming the thumbs into the inner eye sockets. If you punch an attacker in the throat they will be winded long enough for you to run. Aim for the stomach. try and drive your knee into their head. Aim for the groin.

They say that ignorance is bliss and that may well be true, but they also say better the devil you know. I wish to know our world. Darkness and light cannot exist without each other. I do not wish to be naive. And, the more I know, the more equipped I feel, the less I am afraid.

[Image: flickr]

Cheater

Cheater

Apr 15

Cheaters

It begins with a friend and the boyfriend.

You go out to dinner with a group of friends and she brings him along.

You get along like a house on fire. Teasing words and casual (electrifying) touches fly.

You try to stop, be mindful, he is someone’s boyfriend after all. But you can’t, it’s too easy.

Besides he’s not stopping either.

It’s the end of the night, he asks for your number. You try to convince yourself that it is friendly. After all this is what friends do right? Exchange numbers and social media details?

The next day the messages start coming in, they are innocent. Just talking about mutual interests (‘that she doesn’t share with him’ whispers at the back of your mind but you push it down). You are just friends, being friendly.

Then comes the texting. It starts because you both are bored. You bring out your phone and texting. “I’m bored” Press send.

For the rest of the day, you are attached to the phone. You both just have so much in common, so much to talk about.
Text sent.
Text received.
Text sent.
Text received.
Text sent.
But then it comes. That text. The text that changes everything.

It’s hot and heavy, a blanket of feeling- excitement-heart pounds- rush-tremor.

You don’t stop. You can’t.
Text sent. Cheater.
Text received. Cheater.
Text sent. Cheater.
Text received. Cheater.
Text sent. Cheater.

What’s going to happen now? Are you really this person?
Text received. Cheater.
Text Sent. Cheater.
Text received. Cheater.

{Image Source: Cheatersmind.com}

Google+ is my Mistress

Google+ is my Mistress

Mar 15

Gay Geek - Google+ is my mistress

I’ve stopped using my Instagram…I miss it a little bit. He always gives me a fun time. Alas, it is like Twitter for me – I’m off it, on it – they’re my social network fun buddies (if you get my drift).

Facebook is the partner I’ve committed to. He certainly wasn’t my first: my first true love was Xanga. But I realized that blogs just weren’t what I needed for that kind of…release. I mean, she was perfect at the time, all sexy and complicated. My friends all loved her too. But it just wasn’t right.

When Facebook came along, well, he stole all our hearts, didn’t he? He was just so affable, so modern and unique. He even managed to seduce the MySpace users, leaving that poor sod bound and broken.

Then Google+ walked into my life. He was just…a god to me. He seemed to have everything I wanted. But I’ve been with Facebook so long. He’s caught me in his webbed network. I just don’t know how to leave him.

So I flirt with Google+, when Facebook isn’t looking. For awhile I threw it in Facebook’s face, you know, made it obvious I liked Google+ better. I hoped my friends would see that Google+ was the way for me. But Facebook has stolen their loyalty and if I break up with him now, I lose my social circles. Google+ keeps telling me he’s got new circles for me to join, but I would miss my old ones.

I mean, in the end, Facebook couldn’t really care less about what I do. He has his own set of lovers. I’m so insignificant to him. But I need him. I need him because he has such a grip on my social life. He fuels it. Google+ constantly wants me to break up with Facebook, always dropping hints. I can’t do it though. He knows all my friends. If I break up with Facebook, I’ll…I’ll be an outcast.

It’s just, so much drama. I can’t stand it but…but I’m entangled now. So when I can’t take it anymore, I go to Twitter, go to Instagram. I go to get away from it all. They give me such sweet serenity, if just for the night.

[Image Credit]

I Was Lucky to Have had a Girlfriend

I Was Lucky to Have had a Girlfriend

Dec 20

Sometimes geek love is all you need

A guy I went on a date with once was very surprised to discover that I had had a girlfriend. That I had had a girlfriend for a full year was even more astounding to him – because I identify as gay, not bisexual. And you know what, I feel extremely lucky to have had the experience of dating my ex-girlfriend. Let’s call her Sally.

Let me tell you about the Sally and Vik saga. Sally is a wonderful geek – one of those beautiful women who are fully immersed in geekdom and will geek out with you unashamedly, but are still really easy to talk to about other things. Me and Sally got together because she came over to my room (we were living in a residential hall at University) and brought Battlestar Galactica so we could watch it together. And she didn’t leave. A year later I wrote her a poem that I printed out and cut the corners off to make it look like a page from the show as an anniversary gift. For my birthday she bought me the Earthsea saga and a keychain that said “Nerd Pride”. We were the geek couple of the college.

We had really similar interests in books and movies and general life, but just enough differences to be able to debate about things – which we did, with civility and intelligence. She was a gorgeous woman who didn’t just tolerate my geeky side, but revelled in it. She was more intelligent than me, more career driven. She would snuggle when I needed it, but we had our own lives so I had space when I needed it too. She’s pretty much everything I want in a partner.

So why was something wrong? My whole life I had not only denied being gay to the rest of the world – I had convinced myself it wasn’t true. I couldn’t bear the thought of it and any mention of it only pushed me further into the closet. So sitting there, in this perfect relationship, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like something was wrong.

It was only by having this incredibly perfect girlfriend that I was forced to examine myself. I broke up with her not because I knew I was gay, but because I knew that something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what it was, but I loved her so much that I couldn’t go on having her believe that it was going as perfectly as it seemed. I knew something inside me was just feeling wrong. I didn’t want to hurt her more later, so I had to hurt her now.

Of course, Sally didn’t understand. How could she? I was telling her, “I don’t know why, but I’m breaking up with you.” How ridiculous does that sound? How infuriating that would be! And we didn’t talk for some time – it was a rough time in my life, and I’m sure it was rougher for her. I was coming to grips with my sexuality, and she was facing her first true and unexpected heartbreak.

But of course, she was even the perfect ex-girlfriend and didn’t send me crazy texts, didn’t pester me, didn’t bother me at all. She’s such a strong woman that she picked herself up and (of course) still managed to ace all her exams.

In reflection on why we broke up, I eventually came to terms with being gay. Now, in hindsight, my relationship with her was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. If she had been any less perfect, I would have found something to blame the breakup on. But she had done everything right, and it was clearly something in me – and that forced me to take a look at it.

It was also the best thing for me because I discovered who my friends were. Yes, I broke up with her, but I was hurt as well. And it was painful to find that some of the people I thought were always going to be there for me simply weren’t.

So I was lucky, so incredibly lucky, to have had the perfect girlfriend. It forced me to break free from society’s clutches and let me be me.

Sally and I made up at the end of last year, and a few weeks ago I went to visit her in Canberra where she now lives. She is as beautiful and geeky as ever, and I can’t believe we wasted so long not talking to each other – and not geeking out. She will remain one of my best friends in the world, and we have talked about and moved past our history. It is one of the most healthy relationships in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thank you Sally.

[Image Credit]

Lucky

Lucky

Dec 18

Friendship is Magic

I don’t usually count myself as lucky as I don’t have anything special that the ordinary person doesn’t have. However this year as I was writing out my Christmas Card list there were around 40 names.

40 names.

These aren’t the people that I see/talk to once every six months and I have only sent 1 card to my family. These aren’t even people that I work with! These are the people I keep in frequent contact, shared brilliant memories and bits of my soul with, all out of my free will. It is absolutely incredible to see all these people on my list. It is also incredibly baffling!

Where had I gathered them? When did I gather them? Were they willing to be gathered?

I guess these questions don’t actually matter though, as what is important is the role they have in my life. I have around 40 people who are loyal to me and care about me. You can’t even begin to imagine what the warm fuzzy feeling in my belly is like. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d have so many people.

My back story is pretty much that of the stereotypical geek: In primary school I liked geeky things, other kids didn’t. I only had Femme Awesome (my best friend to this day). When I got to high school I suddenly had acquired a group of people I still call friends. University happened and suddenly I got even more? And now?! Now it is bordering on ridiculous!

I then thought to myself, ‘Would I be happy if I only had just one person who cared?’ And I found that the answer was yes. Because in the end it really isn’t the number of people that care, it is how much they care about you . So if you have your mum and dad, or a single friend or groups of friends, it doesn’t really matter does it? Because someone is thinking of you at least once a week.

They say you always find yourself reflecting on your life around Christmas and New Years and find thanks around this time too (unless you are American, because of Thanksgiving). So go ahead and find the good things in your life.

{Image Credit}

Edit: I know this post is incredibly mushy~ But so what? It is Christmas time!

Fairy Tales…updated to the 21st Century

Fairy Tales…updated to the 21st Century

Nov 03

So I stumbled across this little treasure on Flavorwire a few days ago but didn’t get a chance to explore it fully.

Now I have, and I have to say, it’s amazing. Please, please go over to the Fairy Tales for Twenty-somethings tumblr. It’s quite possibly one of the most awesome tumblrs I have ever seen. And it’s not only for twenty-somethings – even if you’re above the Facebook-addicted Gen-Y, you can thoroughly enjoy the ridiculousness that is our generation…in fairy tale form.

This particular one has a bit of an LGBT twist which I actually really love:

Rapunzel cut all her hair off and everyone was totally into it but one unexpected consequence was that she kept getting hit on by women.

After like the tenth time it happened she wanted to say to the girl, “Is this still a thing, that only lesbians have short hair? Can’t pretty much anyone have short hair now?” But then she was like, Eh, yolo, and they made out.

I find it hilarious. There’s so much in there that just puts the fairy tales in a twenty-something context in ways you wouldn’t even think. Like Tinkerbell’s internal monologue about her love for Peter, much like any teen drama we watched as kids. Or how the Prince and Pauper couldn’t stand each other’s Facebook updates and had to unfriend each other. Classic.

It’s a great tumblr. Check it out!

[Via Flavorwire]

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