Monday, June 8, 2009


Recently a friend approached me about working on a book that is going to based upon a similar experience we have had. I want to write it. Yet, I am so afraid as well. It's not something I am sure I am ready to go back in to. She and I were raped. Our rapists weren't complete strangers, and they didn't pull us into some dark alley. We weren't beat up and they didn't run away after. We were raped by people we at that moment loved with our whole hearts. We were raped by our then boyfriends. I sit now, unable to believe that I am writing this here, but I feel compelled as of late to talk. I know talking is key to healing, but somehow this idea of the book terrifies me. I guess what has me so frightened is that recently wants to ask me questions about the relationship that this happened to me in.

I can talk about it, but only when I feel ready to. The other day, however, I was cornered by a coworker who began to interrogate me about what had happened. I gave her no particular details, but she still asked me what I was going to do to protect myself from him. I had to admit out loud again and again that there is and there was nothing I can do. I hated having to say that out loud. I hated knowing that I will never be able to find a way to protect myself from him.

He didn't hit me or leave any marks that would let you know it was rape. He just berrated me while climbing on top of me. All the while I was saying no I didn't want to, but he didn't listen and before I knew what was really going on he was inside me and he wasn't going to stop. I froze. I didn't know what to do or couldn't believe what was happening. I froze and before I knew it it was over. He got up and kissed me and told me he loved me. I wanted to throw up.
This happened again and again and I couldn't bring myself to do anything because he began to convince me that this was normal and that I was a horrible person for not wanting to have sex. He would remind me again and again. He would call, text, write notes. Saying he loved me and then he would lay me down while I was saying no and climb right on top.

Somehow in my head I convinced myself this was normal that he wasn't doing anything wrong. I gave up saying no. I let this happen for months and months. I finally ended the relationship, but not because of that. I didn't think about what had happened but he continued to harass me after we broke up. If he couldn't get to me he would get to me through mutual friends and even my sister. He had fellow team mates text him if I walked into a party and he would text and call me constantly. One day on aim we got into an argument and I yelled at him for knowingly manipulating me. He asked me if he did that in everything we did in our relationship and I said yes. He then admitted to me that he knew that he had raped me. It had not clicked until that moment in my head that that was what he had done to me.

I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to do anything but become aware that I had just become a statistic of rape. Yet, I was victim who would never have a voice, never have any means of seeking justice. Where do you go from that moment? What do you do? Who do you talk to?

What the conversation at work did was bring me back to all those awful raw moments. It made me remember, the first, second, seventh, tentch, etc times it happened with him. It reminded me that I see him almost every other day and he will never be arrested for it and I will never be able to prove that he did it. It's his word against mine. Yet, I know and I remember every day of my life that I said no. I know that he didn't care. I know that he had the nerve to get up after cumming and telling me that he loved me. I remember these things every day. Every day I am reminded that I am just another silent victim. I hate it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bill Baird

I left this lecture feeling as though I have been taking advantage of a right I thought was natural to existence. I knew the right to privacy movement was a long fight, but I never stopped to think that it was a continuing battle. I just couldn't imagine that people would want to take away the right to protecting one self. I was shocked and immediately humbled for being so foolish.
I was unbelievably impressed by this man and can not believe everything he was willing to sacrifice for this cause. It's not very often when you meet a person who is actually selfless. He worked so hard and still does. We laughed at his methods of showing the absurdity of the law, but in reality it wasn't that funny. It wasn't funny because there are people out there who really want to make it so birth control isn't available to single people and there are people who want to overturn Roe v. Wade.
These rights are what helped to further empower women to take control of their own sexual lives and rights. These laws finally gave them backing to the right to say no, to say when, and to say how. These rights have been so unbelievably crucial in how I live in my day to day life and I have not thought twice about trying to protect or defend them. I have said that I believe strongly in women's rights, but apparently before this lecture I truly didn't.
I look at this man and I feel so unbelievably thankful. This man has saved more lives then we can even imagine and has protected so many others. He reminded us again and again how important these rights are and he is correct. We shouldn't let people take this away from us.
The opening speaker used the word hero and he is most certainly correct in this fact. What Bill Baird has done is amazing. I can honestly say that without the laws that he helped to put in place I probably wouldn't have been in that auditorium today. That fact keeps resonating in my head. All because of the actions of one man.

Lines of Pain

I found myself only partly agreeing with what was discussed by Professor Maria Frank in concerns of the speeches of Hectors wife as well as her discussion of Dido. For the wife of Hector her concern over her husband's death and the pain she felt because of it can be seen as metaphorical. In the second speech after she sees her husband's body she launches in to a long speech talking about how she left her son and her to the vices of the Greeks. While she may just be discussing the pain of what her son will be going through she is also metaphorically discussing the fall of Troy. Like her husband the city will be left to be devoured by worms after the dogs are done. Her husband's death marks the end of the city and the end of his household. Troy relied upon a monarchy as the sole source of government and power with the loss of Hector its entire basis was ripped away and was left in a state of unrest because Astyanax was too young to take the throne. When she burns his clothes it is symbolic of the future of Troy where all the wealth, everything to remind people of what that city was will be burned and left to ashes by the Greeks.
I do agree with how the wife of Hector challenges the Trojan idea of honor and glory. She has to sacrifice her husband, her son and even her own life because of what the men have classified as badges of honor and proof of glory. Her bitterness is real. She as a woman, a widow, has no hope of finding a way to live without the threat of death if she survives the destruction of Rome. She was the wife of Hector, his prize, and she has the destiny of becoming the victors slave, or worse whore. She will have to live a life where her fall will constantly be thrown in her face and she will have to suffer for the actions of her husband. Her son has no hope of surviving. As the sole male heir he will be killed as soon as the Greeks gain entrance. This pain is real and the bitterness attached to it as well.
So many people look at these epic stories as the source for the definition of what a hero is. They also look to these stories as the best example of glory and honor in battle. These men fill the songs of the warriors people seek to aspire to become. Few people take a moment to really look at what these men left behind and the fate they left their family to suffer. These men aren't really heroes. Instead they are men who fight for no real reason and see their family as nothing more than a token of their prowess. What is there between the lines is the pain that the women and children experienced that are slaves to this idea of honor and glory. They have no choice and their fates entirely rest upon the actions of their "hero". Where is the glory in this?
The story of Dido always frustrates me. She is just as much of a hero as Aeneas, if not greater. Everything Aeneas was trying to achieve she had already done and on her own as a woman. Yet, she is belittled and forced to conform to the male conventions of feminine weakness when in the presence of her man. I think her pain is not entirely based upon the fact that Aeneas will not recognize their marriage, but instead of his inability to recognize that she is worth just as much as him. Her suicide is not that of a broken heart, but that of one who is entirely defeated and sees no recovery. Aeneas took advantage and made her break her vow and her reputation as woman was forever tarnished. She has to suffer the fate of a cheating woman rather than a death of a true hero. She takes her own life because she is left to face her people, her brother, and her enemies knowing that all her great deeds were erased in their minds because of Aeneas's rejection of her.
Saba's poem The Goat really struck a chord with me. It's the first time I have seen in writing a recognition that pain is universal whether it be man or animal. It's a concept that many people forget. Pain is felt by every living thing and there is a recognition of it when witnessed. It also brings to light how people rarely take the time to recognize that their pain isn't singular. There are others hurting around them and others who have hurt before. Pain isn't a one instance occurrence. It cycles through man and animal in endless waves with moments of respite. Out of the entire lecture it is this poem I feel that truly addressed pain in purest form.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Performance Pain

I find it so unbelievably ironic and frustrating the difference between women doing triathalons and men doing them. For men its showing their vitality and their ability to deal with pain for women its about finding a reason to survive. Why is it that when women become athletes we have to have some sort of pressing reason to push us in their pursuit of athletic prowess. We can't just seek to do a sport because we enjoy it.

This idea of the triathalon as a mark of a moment to decide to survive intrigues me. What is it that makes the triathalon the starting point for women specifically to decide to continue on with their life and find a new reason to survive. Women said they did because of an end to a relationship, age, and disease. They have to push themselves to do things they have never done before and go beyond whatever they thought they were capable of. I do think the emotional connection with becoming this type of active is a true representation. It requires a whole new form of determination and new want to be a person again. I just find its interesting that the triathalon is becoming this outlet for women. Prof. Striff discussed how it was a badge of honor and how you would automatically gain respect for being a triathlete and I feel that this is the basis of the reasoning. Women are seeking a new way to gain respect for themselves whether its within their community or if its just with themselves.

The Iron Man has always been an event that fascinates me. Part of me secretly wants to do it while the other part is absolutely piss scared. You look at the ironmen and they don't look human anymore. They become machines to the event and seek to just survive the next stride, stroke, and pedal. How does become romanticized in one's mind? The amount of pain that a person must go through would be enough to scare most people away yet the Iron Man is sold out again and again and again. I think the idea of survivorship comes into play with this as well. People seek to find ways to prove to themselves that they can overcome and survive. The Iron Man is a way for athletes to show themselves that they can overcome and succeed. I would love to talk to someone a year after finishing an Iron Man. I am curious to see if they have an entirely new outlook.

What confuses me is how this idea of survivorship isn't discussed generally when the Iron Man is brought up. Instead we are to look at these athletes with reverence and also think of them as being somewhat insane. I feel as though that because the event is mostly male the idea of survivorship is something that should not be discussed. The male athlete is idolized and seen as flawless and there is nothing behind their desire to compete other than the want to succeed. The only time survivorship is discussed is when it is a man with a disability.

I find myself so hopeful and so frustrated with the triathlete realm after this lecture. There still remains a huge seperation between the male and female triathletes. They all endure and they all seek to find a reason to survive why can't this be the story that is told across the board?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And where'd the line go? When does it go to far?

I found myself leaving class this Tuesday a little irked after the discussion following the lecture. One of the guests attending made a point that you don't need to go see a man get shot at an art gallery as a piece of art when you can go to the quote, "ghetto" of Hartford and see it every and any day you would like. I found myself a bit furious with the comment. Yes, we can see a senseless act of violence performed by another person for any number of reasons, but what does this do? People will say, oh thats horrible, or they will even pretend as though they didn't see anything because it wasn't their problem. Whats effective about Chris Verdon's (sp?) piece of willingly being shot by his friend is that it forces the audience to really watch and really react. They don't really have the opportunity to turn the other cheek and pretend they didn't see it. It forces them to look at that act and wonder why would someone go to such an extent to make a statement. I wouldn't call that act self indulgent. I highly doubt he enjoyed being shot, but the importance of the mission of the piece went above and beyond his personal qualms or level of pain. I can't see how that is self indulgent. It wasn't a cheap scare tactic that we see on candid camera. It's an attempt to reach out to people through a medium that we try to constantly educate ourselves on. If it were just paint on a canvas would it have as much of an effect?
I just can't see how this is self indulgent in any way shape or form. It isn't some sort of twisted S&M moment where he seeks the pain of the bullet in front of an audience to get off. He isn't doing it for a few laughs either. That comment just keeps resonating in my head and I can't but feel as though its completely wrong.
People are so apt to say that we have seen it all and felt it all but the truth we don't. It seems so silly and somewhat prejudicial to say that you can just go to the ghetto to witness a shooting. So violence is strictly in the realm of the poor, or the racial minority? What is the point with that statement. What this piece did was take the minority and the social stigma out of a shooting. Had it been a man of another race who was shot I am sure the reaction would have been different.
All the artists presented each sought a different medium in order to present their ideas and their experiences. They didn't rely upon the traditional mediums because they felt as though they were inadequate to the experience. I agree with this entirely. Paint, pencil, charcoal etc can only do so much.
I think the problem with this type of artistic expression is the fact that it goes against the idea that the body is a temple. It shouldn't be altered, have self inflicted wounds etc that would take away its sanctity. These artists push this idea because it makes people react. This is what should happen. They want their to feel and interact with their piece. These type of pieces are also an invasion and debasement of the safety of social circles and social standing. It forces the affluent and often the sheltered to see things they normally would have.
In the 70's with the Vietnam War the shooting piece made people actually see what they were having their sons drafted into. I think what bothers people about this type of artwork is that it often gets to the core of the issue in a much more raw and gut wrenching manner than people are used to. Again, it forces people to observe, react, and reflect upon what they saw.
It's not surprising that this type of artwork is more widely accepted in my generation rather than earlier generations. We have grown up with the constant back drop of war, gore, injustice, fear, the list goes on. We have violent video games, almost pornographic horror films from Rob Zombie, and we have singers like Marilyn Manson. In a way pain has become a medium of expression of our generation. We are more apt to accept a shooting as a means of art rather than a traditional canvas. We are what we live. I am not saying we are violent, but I am saying we have a much different understanding of pain from the previous generations and what we consider to be an acceptable image. A line exists for us as well, and yes we too shall one day say someone has gone too far
I personally loved Sue Williams artwork. I found it to be profoundly beautiful and horrific at the same time. I find myself enraptured in her work. She has found an interesting outlet for the pains she has experienced and she has been able to make the public more aware of the wrongs committed. Yet, she does this by allowing her paintings to speak for her. She is ashamed yet she is compelled to present her experience to the world. I honestly wish that I could have that kind of courage and talent.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Falling Man and American Suicide

I left this lecture really revved up. As I am sure those of you who attended could probably tell due to what I said in class. I found myself feeling so unbelievably frustrated by the comments made by art critics and faculty members of the school alike about the "appropriateness" of the artwork and literature released post 9/11. Appropriate has become a huge word used by those who are advocates of being Politically Correct. It bothers me. People are going to deal with 9/11 and address the situation in each their own manner. There isn't a law or a set of guidelines that dictates whether or not a person should write and publish a poem, paint a beautiful mural to commemorate the event, or use pictures taken of the event as a piece of art. Yet, everyone wants to get up in arms about it. It's bound to happen. Appropriate is such a broad term that has a definition that can be warped to fit any situation and to benefit anyone's argument. Let's stop using this word when it comes to judging artwork. What an individual should say is that the piece makes them uncomfortable. Then they should delve into why. That perspective will cause the public to observe how art and literature play upon emotion. This is not a bad thing. Why would we want to read or see something that leaves feeling nothing.

I feel that much of the controversy with the Falling Man piece is that it has to do with suicide. American society does not discuss suicide as anything positive or moral. Its a sin, its wrong, its selfish, etc the list can go on. Yet, this man was faced with a multitude of options that left him suffering a considerable amount so he chose his own end by jumping. We now have photographic evidence of American suicide and it makes the public uncomfortable. Why do we let so much of our culture cling to the extremely Christian views of suicide and why do we try to do the whole it happens everywhere else but here plea. We have seen as a country again and again that we are not exempt from anything that is innately human. So why deny this act?

What gets me is how people try to see his jumping as a selfish act. The real selfishness is the reactions of some of the families afterwards. He would never commit suicide he would want to come home to us. The us where is his decision and his right as an individual to decide what kind of pain he is going to face? Everyone gets so caught up in their arguments they fail to see the hypocrisy of it.

Even in discussion in class. Many people agreed that we have a right to read and write about the Holocaust as a means of remembering and commemorating, yet they get angry about American citizens doing the same thing. When do we get to decide where an argument fits and it doesn't? We can't have it both ways, yet everyone does.

I find the mural absolutely beautiful. Its a representation of 9/11 you don't often see(due to the public I would assume). It offers so many interpretations and it leaves you seeking out every small detail. Its not a painting you look at once and forget. It sits in my mind like Picasso's Guernica. You look and look and always notice some new detail that leads to a new interpretation.

In my personal opinion and pardon my language, but fuck the critics and fuck the people that try to enforce what they feel is appropriate in addressing how to deal with the aftermath of 9/11. As I said in class if we constantly waited for everyone to agree on when the moment is appropriate all the people who had first hand experiences will be long gone and so much will be lost. Yes, it upsets and yes its jarring, but guess what its making you feel. Thats what I think so many people are afraid of. They are afraid of looking at how they really felt about the event. Or they have to revisit their emotions experienced during the event and try to figure out why they were scared or angry. Yet, guess what in order to heal you have to feel and in order to remember there has to pictures, paintings, and literature. So, get over it. It's there, it's going to made and its going to stick around

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And If you want sing out sing out

As you all know, I absolutely love this movie. Everything about it makes me smile. For once its nice to watch a movie that tells you to live life and enjoy every moment of it. It teaches you that the good come with the bad and that its important to remember the good and what you learned from the bad. I can't help but look back at this movie and laugh. It just has a way of staying in your head and scenes will pop up here and there that will put the biggest grin on your face...

I can't feel sad about the fact that Maude committed suicide. Through out the entire movie she alluded to it and she never once stopped and said she felt as though she hasn't lived her life to its entirety. Suicide is a topic that many people feel uncomfortable talking about and assisted suicide has come under a publicity storm in the last decade or so considering assisted suicide groups have popped across the country and the world. If a person feels its their time to go then who are we to stop them? In cases of depression and young age I agree that an intervention is important but when someone is Maude's age I think they have a right to decide when they want to leave this world. It gave Maude the comfort of knowing she got to die her way healthy and happy. I could never wish for anything more when I die or when loved ones around me die. Happiness is such a crucial and important thing...

I honestly don't believe this movie needs to be redone for our generation. As I mentioned in class the nation was on the cusp of a huge transition at the time this movie was made. The nation was just beginning to see the return of soldiers from Vietnam and see the loss of those boys youth and their happiness for a time. Our country was transitioning into a phase of great mourning for the loss of the youth in a generation. Maude already witnessed this once with her own experience I don't blame her for not wanting to see it all over again. Presently our country is again at the cusp of mourning again because we have and will be seeing the return of broken youth from Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea. We will see how much war can take away a lot of what we found made us happy. This movie is a gentle reminder of how important it is to make sure to live and live happily. This movie captures the carefree laughter that will be necesary to survival for the soldiers returning and their families as they see the loss that was experienced.

I always find myself being so thankful that this movie didn't center around Maude being a Holocaust survivor. I feel that it would have made audiences get too caught up in that aspect rather than the aspect of living life. Maude made no effort to be recognized as a survivor rather she wanted to be recognized for living. I know keep reiterating this living fact, but in truth thats what this movie is.

This movie discusses suicide in so many different facets its not surprising that when this movie was first released that it wasn't well received. Even in the present suicide is not often discussed. It's generally avoided. This movie brings it to the forefront and it makes the audience deal with the idea that suicide isn't always a vice for those in pain or in a state of depression. It pokes fun at the fact that society is so uncomfortable about it. Why are we so afraid to discuss it and try to understand all the motives that a causes a person to commit suicide? Are we so saturated by religious dogma that we can't move beyond that suicide is a sin? Suicide isn't anything new so why is it still listed under taboo?

Even in the movie the fact that Maude committed suicide wasn't addressed as a horrible circumstance. The paramedics, nurses, and doctors all behaved as it was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. They didn't show shock or disdain or even worry. I think what may make most people uncomfortable about this movie is how it looks at suicide because it addresses it like no one had before. It identified suicide as something human.