Trigger warnings for rape, sexual assault, transphobia (internalised and external)
I’ve seen dozens of #metoo statuses on Facebook now, and every time I see one, I scroll back up to write one too. And once I’ve stopped writing, I stop and wait. Sometimes I delete the whole thing, and sometimes I just wait until I’ve forgotten, wait until I try to navigate away from the page, so I can delete it without having to look at my own words.
‘You haven’t finished your post yet. Do you want to leave without finishing?’
Everything is wrapped up in words like ‘technically’, ‘basically’, ‘legally’. I wrap up every experience in words like that so it’s easier to give people the benefit of the doubt, it’s easier to pretend it wasn’t as traumatic and shitty as it actually was.
She only technically assaulted me. If I say it like that it’s easier to pretend it was nothing, that I don’t still sometimes think about her hands up my skirt over and over, that my heart didn’t skip a beat every time I saw her in the rest of the four years I spent at that school, that my hands aren’t shaking as I type this. Makes it easier to pretend that the joke of it all- the joke that she was assaulting somebody who wasn’t performing gender right, while she was a perfectly normal cishet woman- makes any of it better at all.
It’s easier to say that that ex-girlfriend only technically raped me. That way it remains a mistake and not something malicious, that it doesn’t seem even fucking crueller that the first thing I did after being raped was comfort my rapist’s guilt.
It was technically rape, but not legally rape, and if I say it like that it makes it easier to pretend I didn’t go to the police because I didn’t see the point, because I wasn’t traumatised enough, that it was anything apart from guilt about ruining my rapist’s life. That I wasn’t too ashamed of making my rapist seem like a bad person- because rapists aren’t good people, and my rapist loved me enough that I didn’t want to believe she was a bad person. That I wasn’t afraid of cutting my rapist off from queer resources, that I wasn’t certain that she as a trans woman needed those resources far more than I did, that I didn’t just try to leave and forget I was ever queer and trans.
I’m scared to say #metoo because it makes me feel like I failed as a man, and my maleness is always up for debate in ways that the maleness of cis men never is. Because people equate “sexual harassment” with “male on female sexual violence” to the extent that sometimes no other scenario crosses their minds. Finn Wolfhard leaving his agent become an act of allyship to women, rather than him being protected from a predator who assaulted boys his age. My silence after the main #metoo campaign becomes a lack of allyship, rather than an attempt to not trigger myself more than I already have been.
I feel like I’m a man just enough that people won’t believe me if I tell them, a man just enough that cutting my rapist off from resources feels worse than what she did to me, because I should be able to shut up and bear it. And yet I’m also not enough of a man that people will hear what happened and still believe me when I say I’m a man.
I don’t know why I’m writing this blog post, but I know it isn’t closure. I must be good at burying things, because until this paragraph I’d never really actually admitted how bad things really are, not to myself or to anyone else. A blog post isn’t going to fix me. But maybe it’s a first half step towards the first step, writing things down so I know where I stand and what I feel. There’s a support group in my city I’ve been meaning to go to for months on end, and maybe that can be my first step.