Two accounts of rape, the first most people including men say they condemn, but if a gang rape can happen in a frat house how are we supposed to believe "most" men would never do such a thing. The second happens prior to a wedding, the rapist an uninvited wedding guest but someone the woman knew. That matters because it shows the man's frame of mind, not in the least afraid of paying for his actions, and because it shows why many women fear all men. If you can't trust friends in your social circle, nor your father, your uncle, your schoolmates, not the cab driver you hailed on the street, not your best friend's brother, then you can't trust anyone. It is not just the horror that they do, it's also how they behave once they are done. Why do they behave like this? Why do they act like it's nothing?
I tell you this story to show you exactly how unglamorous rape is. Whether it is a tied-to-the-bed knock-her-unconscious atrocity like the one just detailed or merely a silent, stealthy minimally violent assault like mine, rape is vicious, cruel, painful and damaging.
I shouldn't have to explain this to you.
And yet I feel compelled to because thanks to examples ranging from the mostly innocuous Edward "Do I kiss you or kill you?" Cullen in Twilight, to the twisted media coverage of the Chris Brown-Rihanna debacle to the galling rape-fantasty video game genre, the media is selling us an image of rape and domestic violence as being artistic, dramatic, the result of misguided love and -- most terrifying -- wanted.
The latest incarnation of this is Lady Gaga's new art flick/music video for her single "Paparazzi."
The real story:
Rope burns circled her wrists, her fingernails were bloody and torn and she had a deep purple bruise on one forearm that inappropriately made me think of hoagie sandwiches, such was its size and shape. But what was most haunting were her eyes. They were not bright with tears, nor flashing with anger, nor did they even show animal fear -- they were just still. And dead. Those dead eyes would haunt me for months afterward.
After she finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, I became aware of a shadow in the doorway. I recognized the boy. He was from the frat house. Standing quickly, I pushed him out of the room. "Are you crazy?" was all I could think to say.
He looked drunk still. "I just... wanted to see if she was okay."
The gall. I couldn't process it. "You guys almost killed her."
"It wasn't supposed to go down like that. I didn't think..."
"Leave," I demanded, not willing to be party to whatever rationalizations his inebriated brain was going to manufacture. For a split second, his eyes flashed and I saw anger. I thought he might push past me to get to her. Or perhaps even hit me. "Now. Or I'll call the police," I added with confidence I didn't have.
"F*** you," he muttered at last, dismissing me with a wave. As he stumbled down the hallway he added over his shoulder, "Tell her to give me a call."
"You're making too big a deal out of this," he said gruffly, returning to his plate stacked with cheesecake and pie that he had pilfered from my roommate's wedding buffet. I was a bridesmaid. He was not invited. My roommate hated him. Which was probably why he had made an effort to show up. He probably wouldn't have come if I had asked him to.
The only mistake I had made was falling asleep. My mind latched on to the only tangible piece of evidence I had. "You ripped my bra!" It sounded so silly and dramatic when I said it aloud like that and yet it was the one thing I kept coming back to. It hadn't felt violent when it was happening and yet he'd literally torn my clothes off me as I cried and screamed. Hours later as I sat on my floor numb and shaking, I kept twisting that bra over and over again in my hands and staring at the damage. It was one of those white utilitarian numbers that girls wear when they do not mean for their undergarments to be seen. And yet the thick straps were stretched and torn until both were broken completely apart.
Anyone who has ever worn a bra will know that this is quite the feat. The hooks may break, the underwire may pop out an embarrassing moments, sometimes even the thin spaghetti-type straps will snap at the point they are sown in. But this? This was something else. Some of my other clothing was damaged too but it was the bra that bothered me most. Particularly since it was the only white bra I owned and I needed it to wear under my cream bridesmaid's dress the next day. Another bridesmaid had helped me pin it together in the bathroom of the reception hall. It took 6 safety pins to make it wearable. And they were digging into my skin as we spoke. Later I would put that bra, replete with safety pins, in my box - the box of evidence I hid in case he ever made good on his promise to kill me.
"Oh, I'll buy you a new one," he laughed. "How much do you need?"