Skip to content

An interesting exchange

April 4, 2015

I let it slip in class today during a discussion about the dangers out there for underage fashion models, that I had been sexually assaulted in my youth; that while tearfully sharing my experience (I was 16), I discovered that the friend I was sharing with (18 yrs old) had herself been raped; that when I went to college, one of my best friends (19) told me about her rape at the hands of her best friend’s husband while she was vacationing with them in Mexico (how exactly do you extricate yourself from that one, I have never fathomed); that when I rather offhandedly confessed my experience to my mother one day in my 40’s, she confessed that she too had been sexually assaulted by a family friend sleeping over at her cousin’s when she too, was 16 years old. There are too many other stories to count. Two of my students approached me later in the hallway, visibly distressed at the idea that such things could occur (they are fond of me), and be survivable. Their awe struck me, but comforted me as well, as I witnessed just how far these things seemed from them in their lives (though one told me she had seen a statistic – up to 50% of college women sexually assaulted on campus). I spoke to them of what a man named Bill Cosby was experiencing out of context; that it was so common back then for women who lived in the public in any way, and certainly those who were groupies, or visiting the Playboy Mansion, or hotel rooms, to be sexually assaulted by men that reporting it would have been absurd; half would not have been believed, and the other half would have been seen very much as having brought it on themselves in frequenting such men in such environments. I can relate to the plight of Cosby – not because (obviously) I would condone his alleged activities; no, it is simply that my knowledge of “back then” says that if HE, a lone black man in a white world could get away with such things in the Hollywood of the 60’s, it was simply because so many other white men around him were engaged in similar activities – or worse – (where do you think he got the idea, if he did?) that it absolutely banalized the activity. Big yawn, crois. We were there! If you were a singer, or an actress, or a model in the 60’s, you were “obviously” in some measure a “loose woman”, and “deserved” whatever you got… It was hard to find the tone I wanted with my students; at once wanting them to understand the realities of the world in which we live , but also not to pity me, as I had discarded the experience at some long ago point along with a lot of other unfortunate occurrences in my life; I had no intention of being defined or having my life restricted by that bumbling, over-hormonal, absurd high school boy I let in as a friend while my parents were away. A sad reminder that we need to have conversations with our young people about the realities of our lives, so that they can weigh, and measure, and be prepared for what someday may come.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: