So, a 1000 Voices for Compassion marches on. I’m late as usual– the 20th was my wife Cimmorene’s (@wavemistress) birthday, and I simply did not have time, or rather, the energy, to line up a post that quickly.
I don’t expect any of you dear readers to understand that it happened to me. I don’t even expect any of you to understand that it can happen to men. Not even Wikipedia editors seem to acknowledge such very much at all. But if you figure you’ll do your best anyways, and consider yourselves sufficiently warned of possible triggers, than I invite you to read on.
The tough stuff starts here
I’ve been busier on Twitter lately, because, to be quite blunt, I have a support network there, and they haven’t recoiled in horror when I’ve shared my story, the way some bloggers have. They’ve lived the grit and the shit of childhood sexual abuse, and although I’d say a lot of them have had it far worse than I did, they welcome me regardless. Because of the great stigma men face with this issue, I am overwhelmingly outnumbered by women, but there are a few men, and a few amongst that small section that are quite actively championing the cause of survivorship and trauma recovery.
A supportive Twitter chat friend introduces me to the UnSlut Project
If you’re not familiar with the UnSlut Project, I invite you to go check out the website really quick, and then come back here. I think the context is important.
A friend from #sexabusechat (Stewart- @gottogetoutof) does all he can to get word out about resources for sexual abuse survivors. One day he retweeted some Tweets from Emily Lindin and the UnSlut Project. I was intrigued and decided to check it out.
Once I learned what the issue was about, I felt an impression that I should share my story. I was reluctant to at first; much like a lot of domestic violence and abuse in general, the issue has been framed as women as the targets/victims, and men as the aggressors/abusers. Even if men are targeted– fairly rarely is it said that a woman perpetrated the abuse. Then I got a DM from Emily asking for financial support (since part of the project is a documentary film). I thought the message was automated at first, but she very sweetly and congenially reassured me that it wasn’t. I asked her if I might share my story, and she enthusiastically agreed.
My sexual bullying story starts here
I tried to keep things short. I’m prone to tangents and ramblings. I didn’t talk about all the instances that women were quite cruel to me in a sexual way. But I will simply add that I was always bothered– whether it was in childhood or as an adult, in college. One story is just too embarrassing to share so openly, right now. So here’s the message I sent to the site, in (most) of its ugly glory:
I’m writing with the hopes that when people read my story, they realize that this is not a gender-based issue. It’s not an issue where only men are the aggressors, and women are the targets. Sexual bullying and slut shaming can happen to anyone.
During the middle of my college/university experience a little over twenty years ago, I somehow caught the attention of a sorority girl in one of my classes at a small private college. I was still socially awkward at that time, and her rather energetic nature and interest made me a little nervous. I blurted out, “don’t have an orgasm, now!” after a nerve-wracking conversation one day, which I realize now was totally inappropriate.
But I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of revenge from her sorority sisters. I was harassed repeatedly by e-mail, telephone, and even in person. This continued even when the campus police got involved. It didn’t stop until I left the school.
Thankfully, that experience didn’t follow me to university, but, I remember walking across the street when a convertible pulled up and a young woman leaned out and said, “Yeah, baby. Shake it!” For some reason, that triggered memories of being mercilessly teased in middle school by boys that thought I wiggled my buttocks too much when I walked. Even though I doubt her comment was homophobic like theirs were, I still felt like an objectified piece of meat.
I know that men in our society are encouraged to welcome sexual attention. Yet how can it be welcomed when it’s unwanted and degrading? I think most guys know the difference, and no amount of swagger (or retaliatory insult) covers up the hurt. It’s not cool, and it’s not “studly”. It’s abusive.
A quick thanks to my friends at the No More Shame Project/Trauma Recovery University, who’ve given me courage to heal from childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. Survivors can be vulnerable to this sort of bullying. Please use my real name; I’ve come far enough that I don’t need to be ashamed anymore.
I don’t think the story has been added to the site, yet. I can say it’s a rare one– most of the stories are from women, and one gay guy last I checked. It frustrates me that society filters this issue by way of gender and sexuality. Granted, I’m actually bisexual by way of orientation, but, I still don’t think that it directly has anything to do with it– women are capable of sexually bullying a man, just as they are capable of raping a man. Attitudes and definitions may not have caught up, but, that’s my experience.
Some final thoughts
I don’t expect you to understand, or agree, right way. I do not expect accolades to my bravery or courage in speaking out. I do not expect many comments on this post, at all, even negative ones, although I fear someone will come along and reply with smack talk. I’m not looking for praise, high regards, or any of that.
I’m simply tired of the bullshit and the lagging attitudes, so I’m saying my truth. It is what it is.
See also Compassion for the Sensitive