Exposing the Perps. Not Sorry.

I wrote this post in response to the ultraviolet campaign to “Remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench” for the light sentence handed down to a jock at Stanford convicted of rape, and whose father felt the measly sentence was unjustified because his son only misbehaved for 20 minutes. Note that the judge was also a Stanford graduate.

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As a rape survivor, I can promise you that even after 30 years, you never forget, and you never fully heal. So many of us reading this were raped. So many have never told. So many are still ashamed. Some are judging me right now, saying to themselves, you/she shouldn’t tell these stories. You shouldn’t reveal these facts about yourself. You shouldn’t profess such things in public.

Unfortunately, for the latter group, you are only perpetuating rape culture with wishes for such silence. If it embarrasses you or makes you uncomfortable, you really should investigate within, why that is so. I will not apologize for my voice when it is used to advocate for truth. Rape does not define me, but rape shaped me. My guess is that the men who raped me probably committed rape again and again because of our cultural tendency to be so hush about taboo subjects.

I guarantee this didn’t start with my generation, nor with my mother’s or her mother’s generation. And given that the latest epigenetics research shows via evident biological markers that ancestral trauma is inherited, you can bet rape culture has impacted virtually every family.

It is condoned every time we force a child to accept a hug. Bodily autonomy starts as soon as a baby can indicate with body language the preference of NO. We are conditioned to encourage children to say and do and wear what makes them uncomfortable or what we choose for them. I am no exception, as we are all deeply conditioned by an authoritarian paradigm that can be traced throughout our human ancestry, with the exception of early Paleolithic culture when goddesses reigned supreme and tribes were egalitarian regardless of gender or age.

And, while I could draw a longer list of direct connection between our society’s paradigms of authoritarianism and rape, as well as elaborate on the detailed lifelong impact of being raped, this is about the Internet, and using it to send the message that rape is not acceptable and the punishment for rape should bear the same long-term impact as experienced by a raped person throughout her or his lifetime.

And, if the black and white dynamics of our judicial system cannot split hairs finely enough for every case, then at least in situations like this we have a vehicle for vigilante justice via social media. So be it. I’m a survivor, and I choose to spread this message.

The judge himself probably did the same thing when he was in school, and the father of the perp exemplifies in his own perverted, privileged perspective that he, too, probably committed rape. If that sounds facetious to you, imagine this…

I was roofied and raped at 18 by a popular high school classmate from a “good family” at another classmate’s graduation party – it was a boy I’d known since at least middle school. He was a preppy jock and a scholar.

I still remember the Solo cup he offered me with beer that he used to deliver the drug. It was legal to drink at 18 back then, but I wasn’t fond of beer, and I took very few sips.

I remember him walking me to my father’s car that I had driven to the party, but I don’t remember intending to leave – I had only just arrived.

I was half-clothed when I woke up in the back seat of my father’s unlocked car alone around 2 a.m. I had gone unconscious right as he was mounting me.  I remember trying to protest, but I couldn’t speak. Remember, he was 18, two years younger than the Stanford perp whose whiney father lamented his supposedly non-noteworthy 20 minutes of misbehavior.

The next Monday, at school (it was our final required day of attendance), I approached him at his locker and asked why he did that to me. He shrugged and said, “I thought you wanted it,” and just like that, he walked away.

I am sure he went off to a prestigious degree program.

That was the beginning of my knowledge of rape culture. It was 1983. He was an athlete and an honors student. I felt I wouldn’t be believed, so I told no one.

Actually, I didn’t understand what had happened to me. I had never heard of date rape drugs. I wondered if those few sips of beer were enough to intoxicate me. I had only been drunk once, on my 16th birthday when I drank a half cup of liquor and Coca-Cola.

I wonder how many women he raped before or after me.

Later that summer, shortly before I went off to college for the first time, I was flirted with and invited to a  local college dorm room by a seemingly nice college football player who had been hanging out with a neighbor at our private “condo” complex pool. He was at the pool cooling off with a handful of other football players, including my neighbor, after early August training. I had been there first, sun tanning alone with my boom box blaring a song about a horse with no name by America.

I showed up at his dorm that night, naïve, and thinking nothing about sex. He had invited me to “party.” I thought that meant lots of people. He forced me to have sex and then, he forced me to sit with him on his dorm couch as my neighbor passed by in the hallway, presumably to make it appear as if I was consensual to this liaison.

I wonder if my neighbor then – a popular boy from another “good family” – knew what was going on, as we locked eyes as he passed the room. I always felt like he was kind of complicit in what went down, if by no other means than his silence. He was older, and a classmate to one of my sisters. His family was upper crust.

I became lonely, depressed, and disconnected from myself. My body was not my own anymore, but one of a girl whose head buzzed incessantly with negative self talk. (Sometimes, she still shows up.) In college, this enabled the “mean girls” to make fun of me, and rather than fight back, I sank. (Note: They wouldn’t stand a chance with me now.)

Alas, my senior year, I was date-raped by a popular junior, a baseball player at my tiny college that I had been hanging out with all evening along with other students. He was there on scholarship under a celebrity coach, Gaylord Perry.

You don’t need the details, but I tried to fight him off with all my strength. I remember calling him a “shit” and begging him to pull out because I was not on the pill. The next day, I told a classmate, who readily informed me that I had been raped, but I was in denial.

I soon heard about another, younger student he had also reportedly raped. I avoided her, not wanting to delve into my own pain and shame. I had no clue how to handle my experiences or feelings, and my self-worth was by then next to nothing. 

For those who want to know one of the myriad of reasons why I unschool my child so that he discerns his own perspectives in life rather than allowing a culture of immaturity and homogeneity to conceal who he truly is and can be, just re-read the last sentence of that last paragraph.

I had to see that asshole baseball player every time I went to the cafeteria for the rest of the year. My humiliation became me. To this day, I hate baseball.

Looking at today’s rape culture, I doubt that back then in 1987 that my college administration would have believed me. Date rape was not even a term used widely at that time. Society had taught me to be ashamed of myself. These men planted their darkest selves to haunt my soul, without conscience, and it took decades for me to locate the light trapped within.

It is no different for any other person who experiences being raped. There are no degrees to rate whether one rape is worse than another. It IS identity theft. It IS soul-crushing, and those of us who learn to put it into perspective are lights for those who still can’t watch portrayals of sexual violence on TV without crying.

So, I ask you – is it really so facetious to suspect that the very judge handing down the light sentence probably perpetrated rape in his own day, there at Stanford? The lack of conscience exhibited by such men is evidence of how entrenched rape culture is in the sectors of privilege in our society.

I’ve learned to read people over these three-plus decades. So well, in fact, that I can tell when I meet someone in person if they do or do not have my best interests at heart. But, young-adult-me did not have such a developed sensibility.

Perhaps this big machine of society is turning and churning itself as a self-regulating dynamic that will transform our culture like the Paleolithic societies repeatedly referenced by Peter Gray did when shaming those who strayed from tribal ethics. The organic nature of social media affords justice in this particular case.

I am not my story, but this is my voice. And, I am not sorry.

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