Time heals all wounds?

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The rape was over eleven years ago, and I am just beginning to understand I will never be over it. I will never be the person I could have been, I will always live as someone who has survived a rape. Most days I can live with that. On the days I can’t, well, I’m learning I can live through those also.

I have lived through rape (and consequently abortion). Through sexual assault. Through (state sanctioned) sexual violation. Through weekly sexual harassment. And I am SO FUCKING TIRED. I am sick of it. I am beyond it all. Sometimes I just can’t begin to understand the evil of humanity.

Rape culture exists. It exists on the left. So many people think that womens rights are too far down the list to be bothered with. That we have to deal with a few little issues for ‘the greater good’. I just want people to know that I will never care about any cause more than I care about womens rights. This post has no real point, it is not saying anything new. But I am so tired, and sometime all I want to do is just scream.

This is me screaming.

 

A thousand apologies (owed) (None received).

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Today I woke up to the DELIGHTFUL news that Rob Gilchrist is suing the police for ‘Mental pain’.

When I heard this, I went into a state of shock. HIS mental pain? Aside from all the others, what about me? What about my life, which he did his best to destroy? I’ve never heard a word of regret from him.

This is where I admit more than I wanted to. I was once (ten odd years ago) a Anti Nazi activist. A good one. I put several in prison. I pissed off a LOT of people. I broke no laws, and I worked with police on occasion. So naturally, I was a threat. Gilchrist was introduced to me by people I trusted as a fellow activist, and we became friends, of some sort. Until I started getting suspicious. Details about me, including a photo, ended up on RedWatch and Stormfront. I kept fighting. Gilchrist was pressuring me to sleep with him, and when I refused, he told me I would regret it. He sent naked photos of me to both Nazis and Police. He told everyone I was a cop/nazi/whore, and most people believed him. And what hurt the most; he told people I was making up the story about Anthony raping me (I suppose one sexual predator feels kindred to another). Everyone believed him, and when I tried to warn them I thought he was a spook, they said that is what he told them I would say. I was getting harassed daily by nazis, I had to move cities, and I lost what little faith in humanity I had.

When the news broke, I expected at least a few of the people who had wronged me the most to apologize. In fact, some of them made public announcements about owing me a apology. None found me.

He was paid to spy on illegal activity. He knew all about Anthony being a serial rapist, and was in fact, closely involved. He could have used his influence with the police to do something. Instead, he sent naked photos of a 17 year old girl, along with jokes.

I highly doubt he has suffered mentally. I suspect all he misses is the power and money.  He took so much from me, to see this makes me sick.

Fuck him.

 

(Sorry this is not the most articulate post. I’m still very angry).

Welcome to the Slutcave.

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I try to wear my label of ‘slut’ with pride. It means I am pissing people off, that I am unwomanly, [1] and am (hopefully) having a varied and fulfilling sex life (although the final condition is not necessary to be called a slut). I try to embrace it, to say it doesn’t matter, and those who don’t know me are the ones who call me a slut.

But it does matter. It is the old cliche; how to undermine a woman. I first got labeled a slut by my rapist. He actually started spreading rumors about me being a slut before he raped me, laying the groundwork if you will. It didn’t matter that I had only had one very bad experience with sex when I was 13, and wasn’t keen to repeat the experience. It didn’t matter that I was essentially a 15 year old virgin. It didn’t matter that my friends (or, at least, people I thought were friends) knew all of this. I was called a slut, far and wide. And the label stuck. So when he raped me, and I started telling people about it, there was a reputation already in place. I know being a ‘slut’ is irrelevant to being raped. I know that. My friends know that. Sadly, most people feel they can dismiss you when you are a slut. You deserved it. You made yourself at risk. All the usual bullshit.

The label sticks to this day, 11 years later. People who have never met me know me as a slut. And I try to say it doesn’t matter, because I don’t want to be friends with people who  think being a slut is a bad thing. I am trying to reclaim slut. I am trying to be proud. And on the most part, the people I associate with means it doesn’t matter if I call myself a slut.

But it does matter. It matters greatly. That one word caused irreparable damage to me. It is the one word that hurts. It is dangerous. And I need to know what to do.

Thoughts?

[1](Side note; unwomanly is red squiggly lined, and suggestion for it is ‘unmanly’).

EDIT:: Extensive discussion on twitter has decided that unwomanly isn’t a word because the true word for what I am trying to describe is slut. It is funny how these things work out, isn’t it…

A apology for the human race.

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Just a quick, possibly quite self indulgent post about something I can’t get out of my head.

Yesterday I was walking home from work, at about three in the afternoon. I had my headphones on, and am generally fairly oblivious to my surroundings after work. But I heard shouts. I looked across the road, and there in the bus stop was a young Pakistani man. Sitting on the bench beside the bus stop were two middle aged (white) men, and standing up was a middle aged (white) woman wearing a cross. So far, so unremarkable. What had caused my attention was the two young men standing over the Pakistani lad, shouting racial abuse at him. I’m not going to type it out, but you can imagine. Racists are rarely smart enough to vary the tune of ignorance. Without thinking, I crossed the road, pushed the thugs aside. I sat down to the lad, and started chatting away. Basic, inconsequential stuff. This was all it took to get the thugs to step away (although they continued shouting). I couldn’t believe that NO ONE had thought to do that. I waited with him until the bus came, and then told the driver not to let the thugs on the bus. The boy asked me if I would be okay waiting for the bus by myself, I explained I lived across the road and would be fine. He started CRYING. Fucking crying. He had been living in the UK and NZ for 10+ years, and something as simple as this made him cry. When I asked him why he was crying, he explained that no one ever speaks up. Then the bus had to leave, and he thanked me.

And I felt like shit. I still feel like shit. Something like this should never happen in the first place, and my response should not be a rarity. It’s preying on me, and I just don’t understand how it happened. Please, if you see something like this, never let it go.

M; I am sorry that life has done this too you. You do not deserve it.

The social rapist.

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When the man who raped you runs away without getting justice, what are you supposed to think? I felt glad he was gone, and guilt he was getting away with it. You feel helpless you can’t do more. What you don’t expect is to see your rapist pop up on facebook ten years later. And then to find all his facebook friends are young girls, and the trauma and the guilt starts again. Do you post the pseudonym? Do you write messages, that will surely be rejected, to the girls at risk? Or do you just cry and feel like this nightmare will never end.

He actually ADDED as a friend on facebook one of his victims. I can’t believe that. This is a man that feels no guilt. I should be proud, or something, that he didn’t bother trying such mind-fuck games with me. Instead, I feel guilt. Guilt that I didn’t shout loud enough, that he is playing with other girls and their lives. Guilt that I can’t bring myself to confront him again.

I have been living it all again. The taunts. Walking out the next day, covered in blood. Facing the three girls laughing, calling me slut. That had stolen my clothes. The rumors and damage done to my ‘reputation’ that continues to this day. The EXHAUSTION. Constantly having to give everyone all the gory fucking details in a attempt to make them understand. To prove that it mattered. That rape is not okay.

I don’t know where I am going with this. I use social networks. They are helpful tools. But what do you do when those social networks are becoming tools of the rapist. Being used to continue tormenting victims. Do you shut yourself in, and remove all online presence? I feel sick knowing that to block me, he had to look me up. I have strong privacy settings, but my online presence is a part of me. To know that he looked at me, that he thought about me…

I’m no where near ready to be coherent about this issue. This has set me back. I’ve had to up my dose just to get through the past 24 hours. But I know I need to write. I need to keep talking. I refuse to let him shut me up. He hasn’t yet, and he wont now.I need to know what I should do.

If you read this, I have this too say. You won’t break me. I will always write, I will always scream.

Goths use it too!

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The previous post on whitening creams has been cross-posted on 2 facebook walls (YAFA and CFC) and Twitter. The responses have been enlightening (pun definitely intended), and I thank those who contributed. I also thank Jia and Tove for their particular interest and support, as well as Angela, Hannah and Sophie who discussed this topic with me.

One of the very interesting topics that came up was another use for these whitening creams. In my ignorance, I had not known that these were also being used by Goths. There were at least two accounts of this happening, and I can only suppose that these are not isolated incidents. This indeed is a fascinating phenomenon. However, I would still argue that there is a fundamental difference between the two uses.

I think that the following is a good analogy: comparing the two uses of skin whiteners is like comparing body art to genital mutilation. Body art and genital mutilation are both culturally founded and locally accepted. These practices can be quite similar. If we were to be strictly pluralistic, we would accept both practices as cultural heritage. However, one is based on voluntary self-expression and the other is involuntary oppression.

Similarly, whilst the act of whitening one’s skin is the same, the meaning is completely different, even polar opposite. Goth culture is an alternative culture, and skin whitening is a part of a rejection of mainstream culture. In contrast, for Asian women, skin whitening is a desperate attempt to participate in mainstream culture.

Even in India, Korea, Philippines, Western cultural hegemony is evident. Western countries are major exporters of cultural materials, and these are more numerous and astronomically better funded than locally produced materials. This state of affairs is exacerbated by local producers also put a premium on whiteness in response.

My experience is in Korea and New Zealand. Korean cinemas are filled with Hollywood blockbusters – there would be even more, if it wasn’t for the quota. Flipping through Korean women’s magazines, I found that although marketing is targeted towards Korean women, the models are white or photoshopped white. For those of you who have not had the experience, I cannot stress enough that it is abundantly clear that whiteness is the ideal, whether one is born with it or not.

New Zealand is similar, though there are significantly differences. Majority of women here are, in fact, white. However, beauty is still more associated with whiteness and portrayals of people of colour are more often in problem contexts, such as vaccinations or drunk driving. One striking example that Tove found last year was a Peter Alexander poster that was displayed in the window of the High Street branch. There was a white female model posing as Snow White, surrounded by black children. Let us guess who we were meant to aspire to be or to have. If there is an iota of doubt, keep in mind that this store does not sell children’s clothes.

Going back to the issue of skin whiteners, take a look at the pictures below. Mirza is an ambassador of The Body Shop. One picture is an advertisement for The Body Shop and the other is Mirza in real life.

The fact is, vast majority of consumers of skin whiteners are women of colour. This is most clear in marketing, which is almost solely targeted towards women of colour. There is a reason as to why The Body Shop’s Shiso range was not on the global website but heavily featured in the Asian ones, and more difficult to find on the Australian one.

The history of whitening creams is a tragic one in Asia. Many women have succumbed to cancer as a result. This is well documented, and I will refer you to one such article in Lancet, the preeminent medical journal: Women have Deadly Desire for Paler Skin in the Philippines (Easton, 1998). Women are so desperate that they have, and are continuing to, risk their lives to become whiter. And we cannot patronise these women, whose life prospects may well benefit from having whiter skin. This too is well documented, and I will refer you to a newspaper article: Skin Whitener Advertisement Labelled Racist (Sidner, 2009) [http://articles.cnn.com/2009-09-09/world/india.skin_1_skin-nivea-racist?_s=PM:WORLD].

I do not blame the users of such products, nor do I criticize the Goth culture. But given the historical and cultural context, I maintain that skin whiteners are symptoms and instruments of global Western imperialism/capitalism and its cultural hegemony. And as such, I do blame racism in the media, and marketing used by multinational conglomerates that sell and reap the benefits at the cost of confidence and lives of women.

I will be writing at least one more follow-up post on this topic, on another comparison that is often used between skin whiteners and tanning beds. I will be keeping an eye on the comments if anyone would like to make themselves heard.

Whitely

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Dear The Body Shop,

I like you. I really like those tiny delicious-smelling pots of lip gloss. And I really really like that you are into ethical business. So, friend, what’s up with these?Image

Sadface,

KK.

I found these in the Queen Street branch in Auckland, New Zealand.

Seriously, two out of five words that is the name of this product involves the word “white”. The packaging is white too, in case we missed the point.

According to the Australian website for The Body Shop (there is no New Zealand website, and I could not find the product on the global one),  it “reduces early melanin-making signals even before the hyperpigmentation process and melanin production cycle starts – helping to prevent uneven skin tones, brown spots and freckles” (http://www.thebodyshop.com.au/Product.aspx?Id=962 ).

O sorry, my mistake. This whitening whitely white product is for uneven skin tones, brown spots and freckles. That sounds OK, I guess. Not out of the ordinary, in any case.

Waaaait. Do you mean the same melanin as the thing that determines skin colour? The same melanin that PREVENTS SKIN CANCER? THAT MELANIN?

O SHIT.

Not only is this product inherently racist, it is possibly carcinogenic. But I’m no scientist, and cannot comment on the latter. (Can anyone confirm or deny this?)

But as a woman of colour, I find this product offensive. It equates whiteness with beauty, and as such, it is not an ideal that any woman of colour can achieve naturally. Whiteness is privileged. Conformity wins over diversity.

The thing is, The Body Shop has excellent moral principles and policies to reflect that(http://www.thebodyshop.com/_en/_ww/services/pdfs/AboutUs/Policyonexternalmarketingandclaimslayout.pdf). At heart, there is goodness. This is one of the major reasons why people patronise The Body Shop. But this product blatantly contradicts those priciples and ignores the policies. The excerp from the policy below clearly states that beauty is “regardless of… skin colour”, and that there is a “stringent copy approval system”.  By selling this product, The Body Shop is not only transgressing its own moral boundaries, but also deliberately lying for profit.

What is the most constructive step from here?  Dear Reader, please help me with suggestions. There will be a follow-up post on this.