Posted in history, people, Saturday / samedi / sábado / lördag / Sonnabend or Samstag, Things I try to hide, Values & Ethics, Weave of Traditions

I hate to post this right now.

‘Because the man in question has helped me a good deal. We have a decent relationship and he is amazingly helpful and has sent me things that may well be the only things keeping alive. Nothing is simple in this world. Remember my grandfather’s fiddle. Only this man is not as bad as my grandfather, not by far. He has learned his errors. It is possible. And that is important. People think it’s not possible and they give the perpetrator no chance of redemption. That helps nobody. There are people who are beyond hope but in my case that is not true. But I have to talk about this. It is awkward because he just helped me a lot. But it is true regardless. So I have to say what I have to say, to bear witness to something most people refuse to acknowledge, and I have been putting this off far too long. Understand this post is not to punish the perpetrator, it is to explain what is possible, some things that most people do not think of.

So. I will call him John to be as anonymous as possible even though some of you know who he is.

I was molested from at least the ages of 11 to 15 by John. I have been hurt by other men, including something i am now told as rape (someone put his toes up my butt) but John did the worst damage.

It is easy to tell you how John threatened to butt-rape me. How he rubbed his penis on my butt. How he did sexual things to me that I was entirely unaware of at the time (Lolita has some scenes that explained to me how that is possible). I told him “Oh that is okay” and he very guiltily said “No, no, that is worse.” He feels remorse and went to therapy and tried to learn. He doesn’t even date now. These are facts. They are not the whole story but they are facts.

Anyway, so, the thing is, everyone things that child molesters are all pedophiles. That is, that they have a sexual orientation that gives them an irresistible attraction to children that they have trouble not acting on. But the most important message in this post is that this is not true.

So what is true?

I was molested because John was a misogynist, a big-time misogynist.

Most important message in the post.

The term incel didn’t exist back then. I know the history of the word, that it wasn’t always bad, that a woman invented it. But it has come to mean exactly what John was.

It matters that I am a woman. It doesn’t matter my inside gender. It matters that I am a woman, as in I belong to the class of people known as women, and misogyny is the hatred of that class of people. And that doesn’t change. And yes trans women are also women, I am not denying that. But I am also a woman and I can’t deny that. And I mean for the purposes of who is subject to misogyny. Or transmisogyny. Any kind of misogyny, and you are a woman for all practical purposes.

So.

John set a date by which he would marry.

It didn’t happen.

He picked a woman to marry.

She didn’t want him.

He could not accept this.

He tried to date a string of women, unsuccessfully.

John felt entitled to own women’s bodies. And use them however he wanted. And it made him angry when women would not do what we were told. Very angry. Very bitter. Very cruel. He threatened to threaten suicide to force a woman to have sex with him.

So the damage he did to me was not so much the things I listed above.

The damage he did was that he taught me all about women and he taught me all wrong.

He taught me to hate myself.

He taught me it was all right for men to treat women like things.

He taught me sexism and misogyny.

Those have stuck in my head longer than anything else he did. I am still disentangling them like the worst of my yarn monster.

But I asked him. I asked him why. I asked him why he did it.

And John said to get back at the world.

For not automagically giving him a wife when he felt entitled to a wife.

I was the smallest and most vulnerable girl he could get his hands on. Or his dick on.

And I had nightmares about him and back then people thought all nightmares about abuse were abuse flashbacks and 100% real. So I believed in the nightmares, I believed he anally raped me. My only anal rape came later in a psych ward. And involved feet, not penises.

This was the nineties which explains the confusion.

Anyway, for John, this was a power thing, he had power over me, and he used it.

He was not a pedophile.

He was a raging misogynist and what these days they call an incel.

The most important thing is his sense of entitlement to the bodies of women no matter what. And the rage tantrum he threw when he could not get his way with women his age. I was the target for all his rage and fear and disappointment and especially, especially, misogyny.

Which is one reason I need the word woman for myself no matter what else I feel. I can’t escape it. Do you think that little girl who survived being shot in the head, for trying to go to school, would have been shot any less if she was secretly a trans boy? Because she wouldn’t. She was a girl for all practical purposes and sometimes practical purposes are all that count. I am sorry that I don’t remember her name. I am still a little delirious from the hospital.

But I remember something like this:

I do not tell my story because it is unique. I tell my story because it is not unique.

Let me see if I can look up her name. That is from her Nobel Prize speech.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI.

Malala Yousafzai giving a speech. She has black shiny hair, brown skin, and an orange headscarf and robe of some kind, with a lace wristband poking out from underneath. She is holding a microphone. She is very beautiful inside and out, to me. I love her from a distance.

Anyway, she would be facing misogyny no matter whether she is really a man, woman, both, neither, some combination, whatever her gender identity is. For the purposes of misogyny you only need one way to be female, and there are many.

And the same is true of me.

John did not hurt me because he was a pedophile. He hurt me because he felt entitled to women’s bodies and I was a girl he had near total control over.

John, i know you will read this. I didn‘t want to write it in some ways, especially after all you helped me. But I think you, if no one else, will understan why I had to tell people the truth. I’ve been afraid to for far too long. I’ve been afraid. Of what will come raining down on me from family for writing this, of how you might feel after all this time.

But I also know that you take responsibility for your actions as much as you can. And you take what you did seriously. And if anyone is going to understand why I had to say this, it is going to be you. And you know, you know in your bones, like I know in my bones, that if you didn’t want anyone even anonymously telling why you molested a child, you shouldn’t have molested a child in the first place.

Because that is what I was. A child. And you hurt me. And you shouldn’t have. And you filled my head with the worst of misogynist nonsense. You learned. But you hurt me. You hurt me. And not just with your dick. Not even mainly with your dick. Your words and ideas hurt me the worst.

Your misogyny hurt me the worst. And your misogyny, not pedophilia, fueled the whole thing. And everyone needs to know that. For their own safety. Which is why I wrote this. For the safety of other people. Not to “call out” John, but to inform everyone that there are more than one reason for child molestation.

Also, thank you for changing. Thank you for the help. Thank you for getting help. Thank you for taking as much responsibility as you can. Thank you for having a conscience, that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of my grandpa. None of this excuses what you did, and you know that. But thank you for knowing there are exceptions.

And I am not telling anyone else how to feel about their molester. I am not telling anyone to forgive. I am not telling anyone how to feel. I am telling you how i feel. to the best of my ability. That is all. For now. I am sorry, I do not mean to air dirty laundry, but this is too important not to talk about.

I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is not. Paraphrase, Malala Yousafzai.

I tell my story not because is unique, but because it is not.

Paraphrase, Malala Yousafzai

Thank you, everyone. Everyone. Including John.

Posted in disability rights, quotes, Sunday - dimanche - domingo - söndag - Sonntag

The Things I’ve Heard About My Eyes and Brain… (Storytelling Sunday)

Some of the words used in this post are really ugly. That’s because they’re the really ugly words that I heard. I’m not gonna sugarcoat this. But if you can’t deal with reading the r-word in either of its common forms, or hear “psychotic” or “blind” used as insults rather than descriptions, you might want to skip this.

Storyteling Sunday, written on red text, on a striped yellow/green/black/white/cyan background.
Storytelling Sunday.

The story here, the reason it’s on Storytelling Sunday, is because each of these quotes forms one little piece of a long story that’ll be familiar to way too many disabled people. And while I’d like the story to stand on its own, I’d just like to comment that I don’t think lesser of any group targeted by such speech. And I don’t even necessarily think lesser of the people creating this speech — it’s very destructive, but it happened a long time ago to a bunch of people I’m leaving anonymous on purpose because who knows how they’ve changed since then or why each one said what they said.

You look BLIND.

close family members

What, are you a RETARD or something?

other kids

You look PSYCHOTIC.

close family members

You look RETARDED.

close family members

Do you have a HEARING PROBLEM or something?

lots of people

What are you BLIND?

lots of people

People think you’re BLIND.

close family members

People think you’re RETARDED or something.

close family members

People think you’re PSYCHOTIC.

close family members

You TARD.

close family members

You’re HALF A BUBBLE OFF PLUMB.

close family members, therapist

You’re A FEW SANDWICHES SHORT OF A PICNIC.

close family members

You’re a FEW FRIES SHORT OF A HAPPY MEAL.

close family members

You DON’T HAVE ALL YOUR OARS IN THE WATER.

close family members

You’re a little bit TETCHED.

close family members

Oh don’t worry, we’re all a little SLOW in this family!

close family member regarding family reunion

It’s only after living with you for six months that I can see the degree of your VISUAL IMPAIRMENT.

close family member

You look STUCK-ON STUPID.

kid

You sure you’re not BLIND?

practically everyone

You CAN’T SEE can you?

practically everyone

Hey look at that BLIND [guy/lady]!

Lots of strangers

You know ‘gifted’ is just what they tell RETARDS they are so we don’t have to tell them they’re RETARDED…

lots of kids

You just seem like a SPECIAL ED KINDA GAL…

A hairdresser who’d asked whether my school was a ‘special school’ (it was).

These things were said in all manner of tones. Some people seemed to be trying to be affectionate. Others were aiming to insult and harm and bully. Others were just confused or curious. But all of this has an effect on you when you hear it day in, day out, every day, in one form or another. Especially when it’s coming from loved ones and people who are supposed to be loved ones.

I’ve asked about the blind part. Apparently it’s about a bunch of things: I stand too stiffly. I don’t make the normal eye movements and look straight ahead too much. (This is just called “staring” and apparently makes me stand out.) I don’t respond normally to visual information. (I am low-vision, guys…) I wear dark glasses in low light. I don’t always move my head or eyeballs in ways that would indicate noticing things visually. I could go on. Apparently I have many things that make me “look blind”.

But hearing these things so much made me think there was something wrong or shameful about being low-vision.

And, well, as I said, the story told by the above quotes most likely speaks for itself when any disabled person who’s heard similar reads it. I just want to make sure people know, my problem here is not “OMG I’m being compared to people I think are inferior,” it’s “OMG I’m being compared to people the speaker thinks is inferior, and being thought inferior myself, but I wouldn’t be inferior whether or not these things were accurate descriptions.

Right now I’m talking about blindness, but blindness is just one of the things that was repeatedly called to my attention as a sign I was Doing Something Wrong, or rather Being Something Wrong (you know you’re being accused of Being Something Wrong when the local kids use your full name as a cuss word growing up). Which — no — doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, but ableism rarely does.

But it does get inside of you, telling you these things do make you inferior (whether they exist or not barely matters). And I’ve been ridiculously afraid of being low-vision for way too long. Time to change what’s inside my head, time not to let this crap into my brain anymore. You don’t have to accept every idea handed to you, something that was news to me when I learned it rather late.

Posted in music

My lifelong nightmare in music.

At some point, my grandfather was involved in a Mason Williams benefit concert to save the Willamette River from damming.  This portion of the Willamette ran right through where my grandpa lived, and my grandpa was very musical, so it makes sense he would’ve been involved.  The upshot being that we had a bazillion records of Of Time And Rivers Flowing (a product from the benefit) kicking around our house, and listened to them a lot.

Anyway, the following song was probably the worst nightmare I could think of.  I was fascinated by it and horrified by it and felt every part of it as if it was happening to me every time I heard it.  Living without water is a terrible thing.  Think about that when you hear of water shortages, water crises, people with no access to water, people sabotaging the water supplies of would-be immigrants, take this song to heart.  I did, I always have, I always will, even when I was a little fuzzy on who Dan was (a pack mule, although I’ve heard some people say he could be a horse as well, but definitely originally a mule).

Lyrics:

All day I’ve faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water
Cool water
Dan and I with throats burnt dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool clear water

Keep a-movin’ Dan
Don’t you listen to him Dan
He’s the devil not a man
And he spreads the burnin’ sands with water
Dan can’t you see that big green tree
Where the water’s runnin’ free
And it’s waiting there for you and me?

The nights are cool and I’m a fool
Each star’s a pool of water
Cool water
With the dawn I’ll wake and yawn
And carry on to water
Cool clear water

Keep a-movin’ Dan
Don’t you listen to him Dan
He’s the devil not a man
And he spreads the burnin’ sands with water
Dan can’t you see that big green tree
Where the water’s runnin’ free
And it’s waiting there for you and me?

Dan’s feet are sore
He’s yearnin’ for
Just one thing more than water
Cool water
Like me I guess he’d like to rest
Where there’s no quest for water
Cool clear water

Keep a-movin’ Dan
Don’t you listen to him Dan
He’s the devil not a man
And he spreads the burnin’ sands with water
Dan can’t you see that big green tree
Where the water’s runnin’ free
And it’s waiting there for you and me?

Cool clear water

A mirage on the Mojave Desert, looking like water in the distance.
If you’ve never seen one, this is what a mirage can look like. That line about the devil spreading the sands with water is not really a metaphor. It actualy looks like water. Mirages are another thing that scared the crap out of me as a kid.  Water that isn’t water…

Also, always respect your environment if you’re headed somewhere like a desert because you just want to see its beauty or whatever other reason.  If you’re going somewhere without easy access to fresh drinking water, understand what that means.  Respect that you could die even if you know what you’re doing.  That should go without saying, but so many people enter harsh physical environments unprepared and don’t understand what that means.  If you don’t go in thinking you could die even if you’re prepared, you’re a fool many times over.  “Nature” won’t automatically provide and save you, “nature” may chew you up and spit you out dead.  Always respect the power of where you are, always respect your smallness in the world, always respect your fragility against the elements, always respect that if you get into trouble in such an environment other people may die trying to save you or locate your body (and still may not succeed).  Understand your responsibilities, understand danger, have some frigging respect, don’t undertake such things lightly.

More about the concert and the album:

“Of Time and Rivers Flowing” was a concert I put together during the summer of 1982. The concept was to present, in chronological order, songs about rivers and water that have been popular throughout history. The intention was to show our long-standing relationship with rivers –that they run not only through the land, but through our hearts and minds as well.

The idea of an entire program based upon rivers and water came about in this manner. In May of 1982, the Springfield Utility Board announced plans to put five hydroelectric dams on the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, one of the most beautiful, wild, free-flowing streams left in the country, and also my favorite trout stream.

I went with several other citizens from Oakridge to a public forum held in the high school auditorium to discuss the matter. Everyone was adamantly against the idea of the dams. Feelings ran high.

However, one group at the meeting, the McKenzie Flyfishers, a small club of flyfishing enthusiasts from Eugene, Oregon, was organized with facts and figures about the negative effects this project would have on the river should it come to pass.

After the meeting, in spite of the fact that all felt they had done their best to speak on the river’s behalf, for me the idea persisted that if only somehow the river itself could have been at the meeting to speak for and defend itself at its own “trial,” so to speak, it would have made the most eloquent statement of all.

Music and water have much in common; rivers are like music and music is like a river. They speak well of one another. Both flow through time, purifying themselves as they go, nourishing life along the way.

Then it dawned on me that the river could have a voice, in the form of the songs and music it has inspired over the years. Music could bring the river to the meeting! I began searching for songs about rivers and water and managed to collect more than 400.

One of the people I met through the McKenzie Flyfishers was Jim Williams. An avid flyfisherman,he not only lives right on the McKenzie with a drift boat ramp in his backyard, he is a past president of the McKenzie Flyfishers and of Oregon Trout as well. He and his wife, Bonnie, became and continue to be my greatest allies and supporters.

In March of 1983, the McKenzie Flyfishers and I joined forces to present three benefit performances at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. We sold out all three shows and the Flyfishers used the money earned to successfully lobby a bill through the Oregon State Legislature. On July 6, 1983, the governor signed a bill formally adding the North Fork and its headwaters, Waldo Lake (the purest lake in the world!), to Oregon’s system of protected State Scenic Waterways.

Only two percent of the rivers in America are still wild, free-flowing streams. Federal laws set up to encourage energy development have not adequately addressed the numerous other benefits rivers can and do provide. In the ever-increasingly industrialized world in which we live, the natural river becomes a rare gem impossible to value, possessing an intrinsic reality unrelated to economic profit.

Today the “Of Time & Rivers Flowing” concert has continued to evolve in content. A reflection of “the river” metaphorically through time, it is a chronological river of musical history spanning almost 400 years.

The songs tell the story of our long relationship with rivers. Rivers have been the routes of exploration, the boundaries of territories, the highways of commerce, and they have sustained us with water, food, recreation, beauty and inspiration. We sing of it, and in doing so, reflect ourselves. Some of the more recent songs, unfortunately, speak of the degradation the rivers have experienced in modern times.

The concert serves to draw attention to the universal experience that is the river. Of Time & Rivers Flowing makes the audience aware of the potential of our collective personality. By giving the river a voice – a chance to speak to us through the music it has inspired – it can remind us of what we mean to each other.

– Mason Williams
May, 1996

I grew up going to Oakridge (loads of family lived there) all the time, I (sort of) learned to skip rocks in its streams, and went swimming in Waldo Lake and all these places they talk about, so I know this river and the water and terrain around it intimately.  Water mismanagement is rampant in the American West and even the parts that have not been hit hard yet will feel the effects before long.  My father, like many Okies of his generation, is from the two counties at the epicenter of the California water crisis — this is personal as well as everything else it is.  But Tulare and Kern counties are only the beginning for California and elsewhere.  If you don’t pay attention, you won’t know what hit you.  Listen to the song and think about what it means to be without water.  Whenever you hear of water shortages, of people being made to live without water or safe water, of water and waterways and water sources being taken away or polluted or misused, anything, understand what no water means.  Really understand it.