I’ve never been raped. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Violence from men towards women is at an alarming, disturbing high. It is extreme because we allow it. We dismiss, trivialize, ignore, and ridicule what happens to women. We laugh when woman talk about it. We silence their voices. We do not hear their cries, and we don’t care. We traumatize women further. By “we” I mean men especially. I mean society. I mean the select groups of women – women who have bought into the abhorrent misogyny covertly embedded within patriarchy (a subject for another blog). Bottom line: women are treated like they are expendable commodities. Feminists call this rape culture, and it must end.
I consider myself lucky – lucky that my virginity was not taken at sixteen when I was almost raped in high school by a stranger who should not have been on the track field, lucky that I was not left on the bottom of the Hudson river in New York City when I was almost raped at twenty-three; lucky that I was not raped on a date to dinner and a movie in Los Angeles when I was twenty.
I’m the Lucky One
I will tell you why I am so lucky:
Because the hired construction worker, who was a friend of the family, touched my tiny nipples right after I had hit puberty at age eleven. But, I wasn’t raped.
Because my mother fired the gardener when she caught him eyeing me from head to toe several times instead of pruning the roses. I was twelve. She did not tell my father. I wasn’t raped.
Because I was visiting Tijuana, Mexico, with my family one summer, and while walking down the street, a stranger touched my butt. I was nine or ten.
Because I lost count of how many times men have told me to smile throughout my lifetime, as if I exist just to please them.
Because saying “no” to a man is always construed as an invitation for more of … whatever. Men don’t understand “NO.”
Because I lost count of how many times men “accidentally” get too close and their hands end up feeling my ass on a crowded bus, subway, or street.
Because the jerk at the bar did not leave me alone after I told him I was not interested (Or, was it “jerks?”).
The many times when I lied outright: “I have a boyfriend.”
Because I’ve lost count of how many men from all over this world EXPECTED me to pay attention to them no matter what I was doing.
Because of the cruel and grotesque comments from men on my social media because I was standing up for myself or standing up for oppression (of any sort).
Because I lost count of the whistles, howls, obscene comments, and gestures uttered as I walked down the street minding my own business.
Because of the two high school boys behind me who yelled, “Let’s get her!” when as a middle-schooler, I was walking my bike home up the steep hill (I dropped my bike and started running towards home like a bat out of hell; they then yelled, “We were kidding – it’s okay!” Fuck them.).
Because at cross country practice in high school when I was running with my teammates, an overweight man drove by and yelled, “Go on a diet!” (NONE of us were fat, not that THAT should matter).
Because my ex-husband expected sex whenever he wanted it. Didn’t matter how I felt.
Because of the nonstop, intrusive chat messages sent on social media AFTER you tell men you are not looking for a relationship, a hookup, a boyfriend, a husband, or to even shoot the breeze.
Because women are called cunts, bitches, sluts, whores, you name it, and “just a woman” (as I was once told by a man from Iran).
Because of the many times I was thankful to be out with a boyfriend because I knew other men would then leave me alone.
Because I was sexually harassed by a male boss at a former job.
Because of the many times I was expected to play stupid so I would not embarrass (or anger) a man.
Because I was followed to the bathroom at an outdoor concert by a stoned, long-haired, sixties-freak hippie who would not leave me alone.
Because everything I mentioned above happens everywhere.
Because I can go on for pages and pages for myself and for every woman. I am the lucky one.
Rape. Date rape. Spousal rape. Partner rape. Gang rape. Serial Rape. Friend rape. College-campus rape. Child rape. Prison rape. Transgender rape. Rape just because. (Did I miss any? By the way, I know men get raped, but guess what? Most rapists are MEN).
I have never been raped. I am one of the lucky ones.
Me, Too, but…
But, I have gained so much by what I’ve experienced! I have learned to forgive, to release it, to NOT give it any more power. I am no longer a victim. You read that correctly: I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM.
But, I have learned to accept myself as I am, with or without makeup, with or without sexy clothes, with or without high heels and perfect hair.
But, I have learned that I don’t need to smile if I do not want to.
But, I have learned it is okay to tell the truth: “Thank you, but I am not interested.”
But, I have discovered it is okay not to respond; it doesn’t mean I am a bitch or a cunt.
But, I have discovered I don’t have to have the perfect body for a man to love me.
But, I have learned it is okay to walk away. It’s okay to be me. It’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to be smart.
But, I have learned that I am a human being first, then a woman. I breathe. I am a human being!
But, I have learned I don’t exist for MAN. I live for ME.
I have found my voice.
I’m one of the lucky ones
I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days empowering a new paradigm where women are treated like human beings, like human beings, like human beings, like human beings…
I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days standing up for equal rights for women.
I am one of the lucky ones who will teach the younger generations of women that they are just as deserving in every aspect of their lives as men.
I am one of the lucky ones who will help to end the abuse and misogyny of women worldwide.
I am the lucky one who thanks the world over that there are men out there who treat me like a human being and not like a woman. Because they are the real men.
I am a survivor.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com