Aug. 21st, 2012

mistymassey: (Default)
When I was sixteen years old, my sister and I spent two weeks with my grandparents in Florida. One afternoon my grandpa dropped us off at a local park. He and Grandma were going grocery shopping, and would be back in two hours to pick us up. It was hot, but the park was shady, and I found a bench to sit on and read while my little sister played with the other kids. There were probably fifty other children running around, accompanied by moms, dads and sitters. I was happily reading when a man sat down next to me. He was in his thirties, and for some reason he started talking to me, as people do when you're reading and would prefer to be left alone. I was polite - raised that way, you know - but something about him was making my skin crawl, and I kept wishing he'd just go away. Finally he asked how old I was, and I told him. He leaned back, made an ummmm noise and said 'You sure aren't built like a sixteen year old.'

I'll admit it, I panicked. I was surrounded by strangers and I didn't know how to ask any of them for help. The guy hadn't actually done anything except talk, so I couldn't imagine anyone would have seen me as anything but an hysterical teenager. So I did the only thing I could think of - I slapped my book closed, collected my sister and started to walk back to my grandparents' house a mile away. It was a dumb move, because that man could so easily have followed me, but thank goodness, he didn't. 33 years later, whenever I think of that day, the fear returns, as strong as ever. If someone says I'm built, I feel nauseated. Men who resemble that guy engender an automatic flight response in me. He never laid a hand on me, but he managed to overpower me just the same.

I share this story because I can't stop thinking of all the women who've been having to suffer for the last few days. If all this talk about whether rape is legitimate or not is bothering me, I can't begin to imagine the hell being experienced by women who suffered far worse at the hands of some power-hungry asswipe. Men who truly have no dog in the fight are making distinctions on what is and isn't rape, and making up nonsense about how a woman's body functions without even a thought. Then when they're called on their lunacy, they backtrack and say they misspoke. The men who stand with them, even without making stupid statements, are just as bad.

You didn't misspeak, gentlemen. You said what you meant. I have not forgotten the fear that gripped me all those years ago - believe me when I tell you I will not forget your horrible words, either.

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mistymassey

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