Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thoughts after camp

This was not how it was meant to be. In May, the mountain was a haven, and a place of understanding, more or less universally. This camp was largely that way, but for one fellow camper who shattered my sense of safety.
Everyone else said she is a good person who merely said inappropriate things and has a crass sense of humour. And yes, of course she is a good person. Good people, however, do fucked up things sometimes. When I saw her bothering another girl about her introversion, her facial expressions, her looked more to me like bullying than horsing around. But it was the rape jokes that were hardest to hear. The threats were not genuine, but they were still disturbing. Oddly, the girl who was the target of those words insisted she was not upset; perhaps she was too drunk to recognize how bad those words sounded. Perhaps because we are women, it did not seem so serious. She saw herself as a bystander who should have intervened when the noise of their conversation kept me awake, and she apologized. But I saw myself as even more implicated, feeling too vulnerable to stand up and stop the hugely problematic things that were being said.
The others in the cabin were supportive, and fabulously so, totally there for me when I panicked and felt triggered. It was jarring to feel that triggered in what is otherwise a safe space, but I was relieved that most people there were focused on helping everyone feel as safe as possible in our cabin. I told a counsellor (for those unfamiliar with A-Camp - yes, we have counsellors, even though we are adults. And this is why we have counsellors. The staff are part of what makes this camp so safe, and so cohesive). She intervened, and the jokes stopped, but my sense of safety did not fully return. I cannot trust someone who says such things, even in jest, while intoxicated. I am saddened that none of us had the strength to discuss, in that moment, why this was problematic. I am worried that we see such "jokes" as commonplace, as innocent, rather than as a manifestation of rape culture. And it hurts to see this happen in a space that is otherwise so focused on safety, and that has otherwise been nothing but affirming to me as a survivor. The laughter and joy and pride and love at camp was there, but had to coexist with the vigilance, analysis, and fears that I had hoped to leave at home.

[I could easily write a gushing post about everything that was absolutely right about camp, and that I loved. I did overall have a wonderful time! But this here is my safe space to talk about things that aren't ok; people who know me in the real world have undoubtedly heard me pontificate about the good stuff almost endlessly, but I have not been as vocal about this part of the weekend]

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