Friday, July 24, 2015

Rape Culture Update: Yes, even the young folks in Edmonton...

Edmonton is a cesspool of misogyny, and has been for decades. It's considered one of the worst cities to be a woman, anecdotally AND statistically. We have literally the worst wage gap in the country. Woman make just over half of what men do. We have some of the worst domestic and animal violence records in the country. Those go together, as harm to more vulnerable beings, and perps work their way up the food chain as they are emboldened, due to encouragement by the culture around them. We have one of the highest underage prostitute rates in Canada, especially for native women. All of this is in large part due to the tarsands economy. Studies show that places that rely on that kind of resource concentration, particularly those that require such environmental destruction, and high pay for high risk, with disposable workers, are far more prone to importing vulnerable sex slaves, taking out the instability on their families, and treating women like the earth they are forced to rape for their jobs. It's a cancer (which we also have one of the highest rates of) that disproportionately affects women, and increases the culture of sexual violence.

Since my previous post on my assaults was published, all the old rape culture chestnuts have been hauled out and dusted off by his camp. Which still surprises and of course deeply disappoints me. I had thought that with all of our work on this issue, his cadre would be less inclined to perpetuate such garbage. Even in this place...  For more proof, here is how the cops reacted.

Rape can't occur if the relationship was consensual.

Up until the 80's in Canada, it was still legal for a husband to be able to rape his wife. Because rape originally means a 'violent and unlawful taking of property". Since she was his rightful property (and being a cold bitch denying him sex amarite?), there could never be an unlawful taking. Therefore, no husband can rape! Ever! It was one of our greatest achievements, and still is bizarre that we had to fight for it, that sexual assault could now be a crime for intimate partners. Seriously. This isn't a Thing. I freely admit that I was in a consensual sexual relationship with Ryan, and would do so again, in a heartbeat. I still deeply care about him, which is why I wanted to arrange a meet and settle this without destroying his life, because I still think he's worth it. That still doesn't mean that he achieved consent on these occasions. And that is where the problem lies. Mistakes can be made, and that's where communication and forgiveness come in. If he doesn't learn this lesson, I can't be sure he won't do it again. I would take a bullet for him, and forgive him the moment he sincerely asks, but I will not usurp the Truth for his sake. The boys in my camp think he is human refuse and shouldn't be allowed to walk among others, and it is a source of much consternation that I hold my view. Attribute it to PTSD, or sexual abuse training, or entralldom or Fate. But how I feel is the Truth, and I stand by it until it changes.

My rep. (What was she wearing?)

The fact that I have worked hard to overcome my issues and appear as sex positive, particularly in public, is no longer a source of praise for my bravery as I try to reClaim my sexuality, but an indication of 'how I operate'. The fact of the small number of sexual partners that I have ever engaged in intercourse with in my rather longer lifetime (I mean, duh) doesn't matter. It's how I 'appear'. Because he just assumed? And that somehow justifies rape, right? I'm still having trouble about how that one works, quite frankly... Prostitutes can still be raped, you know. Every. Single. Act. to another human body must be consensual. Especially ones that involve bleeding.  It's kinda mandatory. Regardless of what I was wearing or how friendly I am to him or other men at events, or how much I try to forge trust bonds with others...

The rep of brutal honesty and total integrity that I have spent a long lifetime building up doesn't seem to enter into it, though. Remarkable how that works...

No one forced her.

I had really thought we had finally gotten rid of this one as a society at least. Consent is more of a 'Yes' thing, not a 'I didn't hold you down' thing. And anyone who suggests that I would seriously recommend running away from. Because they have indicated they are kinda rapey. I went into such painful detail for a reason. Consent can sometimes be harder to achieve, especially in more difficult circumstances. That's why communication, particularly ahead of time for people like me, is essential. As well as continual checking and aftercare. And let me reiterate this - especially when you make someone bleed for you. Because it's an actual crime. Yah-see?

Her boyfriend is a...

Of course they have to attack his character as well. It's kinda necessary, since I'm one of the few folks who has an actual witness. Rumours are already being flung at him, too. Somehow, that means he isn't reliable or to be trusted.. The undercurrent of racism inherent in these claims (he's Chinese/Filipino) makes it all the more charming. I'm not quite sure how that is supposed to make what Ryan did seem all better, or maybe they are trying to pretend that we have concocted everything, for some monumentally bizarre reason, but this does seem a necessary tactic to protect their friend. Which brings us to...

She's making it all up (false rape claims)

Because for some reason, I'm laying everything on the line: my marriage, my home, my career, their careers, my kids, my family... Everything. Just so I can smear this young man and ruin his life. Even though I never came forward at the time, and didn't want to now, but for the fact that he was suddenly went out of his way to get in my face and hurt me more, and not admit that any of this happened. It forces me, in the name of Justice and Truth, which are a big deal to me as a spiritual elder, to come forward to protect any other women he might try to do this to, and to get him out of my spaces so I can at least have some small joys in my life.

And just when I thought they had covered all the bases, here's a new one that was just hurled at me last week. If there's a rape apologist award, this one takes it!

If a much younger man rapes you, you're a pedophile!

Okay, ladies, keep that in mind. Stick entirely within your cadre, or you deserve to be raped, I think is the takeaway here. I'm not quite sure the reasoning on this one, either... If young men con seniors out of their life savings, the thieves get a free pass, because the older folks shouldn't have trusted them? How about murder? Those older persons shouldn't have been hanging with them in the first place! Oh, wait... No. If a young man is old enough to buy a condo, drive his own car, get a job and sign contracts, he's old enough to take responsibility like an adult for making the choice to rape someone. Even if that someone is older and took him at his word like a grown up. The trusting and relationship part is not the mistake here.

That one came from a few new twists on this whole story. I am a fairly well known member of the poly and pagan communities. There is much overlap naturally, and in an attempt to introduce Ryan to other folks that he could connect with, I took him to a poly potluck, a monthly meet up put on by the Polyamory Edmonton Association. I was still very nervous about being his only contact to these communities and wanted him to have more exposure as just himself. There was only six people there this time, since those are less well attended than the drinks nights for example. There I hung out with some old and some new, including one young man, Damien Hildebrandt. I did my best to let Ryan get to know everyone, but also not let him feel alone, so I concentrated on being *with* him and also social, including talking alot to Damien. He seemed reasonable and intelligent, so the time went by pleasantly. Later, he Friended me and Ryan, which I almost always accept, my FB being more buisnessy than not. We chatted at some length, and he shared his loneliness and insecurities. His plight appealed to my compassion, 'cause I remember what that is like, and he seemed to need a friend, so I offered to take him out to dinner to discuss it. He knew I had a husband and I came to the meet with Ryan, so it's nice to hang with folks who aren't polyphobic. The evening was a bit awkward, but I felt enough sympathy to invite him on another one. I did find his arrogance and privilege his main issues, however. He really did think he and his opinions were all that and a bag of chips, and even though I tried to gently probe that, he was bulletproof on it. And at no time was there even a hint of a physical relationship. I can do that. I actually *like* hanging out with people of totally different ages in a complex and satisfying manner that isn't sexy times. Shocking, I know...

It turns out, I knew his mom, too! Sherri Ingrey was a long time FB correspondent of mine from the pagan community (hence how Damien and I were able to hit so many topics) and she chatted to me about our going out. She expressed only amusement at the time, even though her son is much younger than I am. (And not, say, the horror and disgust she later pretended.) I did mention, delicately, how his arrogance was hard to get around, and she concurred. She insisted that it was his father's flaw, whom she no longer got on with at all, and she hoped her son would grow out of it. Our next dinner out went even less well, and I distinctly remember his racist comment that cooled me completely. I was done with him, and was rather distant the next times he tried to contact me. I didn't actually want to hurt his feelings, so I didn't want to critique him, but he really was unpleasant. He stopped bothering to communicate with me in late August, and I thought that was the end of it, and I had successfully Ghosted. Guess what?  Hel hath no fury like an entitled man scorned! Imagine my surprise when I saw him *at the courthouse* attempting to get the judge to accept him as Ryan's spokesperson. The judge didn't allow it, of course, because he's not a lawyer, nor does he know anything about this case, so he can't even be a witness. Other than he saw me and Ryan together once, while we were still in a relationship. And we don't need a witness for that... I still haven't figured out, or been able to ask him, what the f*ck that was all about! Because he unFriended me that afternoon. Apparently, he had just remained Friends with me all this time to stalk me on Ryan's behalf or something. I mean, deeply creepy. And it gets worse. It seems that he is the source for 'how I operate" or the main trashing of my 'reputation' as an excuse for my rape. Since he did see us together, that must mean I'm either lying or I can't be raped in a consensual relationship? Polys, snatch this one up fast! I have no idea why he's still single. He's clearly a catch. Except he might rape you if you get into a relationship with him, and he's more than willing to use your polyness as a slut shaming justification for it.

Naturally, I assumed his mom would be revolted by this turn of events, and would want to smack his bottom thoroughly for the rape apologist harm he was doing to my life. I mean, *I* would certainly want to know if my son did that. Hah. No such luck. She seemed already familiar with this (thanks for the heads up, Sherri) and called me a pedophile, which she needs to look up the definition for. Persons who are of legal age have agency, and are treated like adults in every possible institution. They aren't children, which is the "paedo" part of that. There have even been relationships of age disparity throughout history, and as long as there are no great power issues, like old men forcing girls to marry them, those relationships can offer much exchange and affection. We even have an idiom for it! There are plenty of happy consensual May/Decembers (even though I'm not really December yet, more of September), and even if you call all of them pedophiles, it still doesn't make it so. And it certainly doesn't give anyone a free pass to rape. I normally don't blame the parents for rapists or their apologists, but in this case, as a rape apologist herself, she's clearly a contributor.

So really, the *only* people making a mess out of my life is Ryan, of course, his female allies Izzy and Roo that I still keep trying to protect and I'm so disappointed in, and this Damien and his mom. All the stories and smearing come from them, with other folks repeating without considering the source. Or even thinking about it, apparently. I mean I know he's charming, but doesn't *anyone* bother to look at these for more than a second to see how stupid, impossible, and repugnant this narrative is? What have we been working for all these years in fighting these incredibly harmful rape culture myths? It almost seems wasted...

Ryan's honour must be taking huge hits for this victim blaming and manipulation. He's willing to corrupt the truth and all of his circle, when the only thing he is currently protecting is his rep, and his desire to go where I usually am while I'm actually there. He's not even defending himself from criminal charges or civil claims. I have yet to do those, because awful for me (I'm pukey enough as it is), but I will if I have to, to force him to hear how much he can hurt others, and has already hurt me. I can't imagine what horrible tactics he'll pull out if he makes this continue. All I have ever wanted is an acknowledgement, and an intense discussion on consent, to make sure he understands. Mistakes can always happen. I could easily chalk all this up to his inexperience and sudden freedom and forgive him and let this go. But not if he is willing to harm me even more, by denying these events and defaming me, simply to protect his rep alone. Because then, he's becoming an actual dangerous rapist. And that I am required to fight. I promised to teach him, and I don't break my word, no matter how much this kills me.

I miss my crew from #Artsjam at the Legislature. Just one of my many losses from all this.