Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Let me be bitter

I've recently read a few things on the internet that rub me the wrong way. Somehow there seems to be a culture that moving on from something difficult necessitates gratitude - I find this jarring. I'm frustrated and short of sleep, so this won't be the most coherent post on here.

"To the person who told me I wouldn't amount to anything, thank you."
"Why I am grateful to the bullies who _______."

There are a few articles with this sort of theme floating about online (The Mighty seems to be one of the worst offenders for this). I'll respect that some people approach their experiences this way; that's their prerogative. But it almost reads as though gratitude is the default, healthiest way to heal. And it's troublesome.

It goes a step far in Carmen Aguirre's recent article [TW - she describes her experiences of being raped as a child] in the Guardian. She thanks her rapist for teaching her about compassion. Now, I don't want to censor her experiences or how she presents them - but at the same time, it frightens me that her words could be taken by a predator as justification for their actions. Any rational person would know it isn't, but rapists aren't rational people - they're entitled people, who will take anything they can get and some things they cannot.

The classmates who bullied me as a child didn't teach me that my individuality is worth more than their opinions. My friends and my family taught me that. The bullies did their best to teach me that I was worthless and would never be cool enough to be loved. I learned to persevere in getting the health care I needed by being affirmed by the professionals who got things right, not ignored or belittled from the ones who got it wrong. And most of all, the man who raped me didn't teach me to be sensitive to my body, be compassionate, or anything positive. I could have learned these things through joyful experiences, not rape. Instead, he taught me to always look over my shoulder, to investigate every bump in the night, to incessantly check whether the door was locked. He taught me to assume by default that people showing interest in my body were violent by default. That my body was a thing he could abuse at will. He taught me that I would never, never truly be safe. Nobody should have to learn these things. I will not thank anybody for showing me these things.

No girl should ever come of age by having her body violated.

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