An open letter

TRIGGER WARNING: this post discusses themes of rape and mental health.

For as long as I can remember I have been angry. Angry about poverty, about racism, about our political system, about sexism, about everything wrong in the world. When I say anger, I don’t mean a slight annoyance. I mean pure rage. This feeling was as central to my identity as my gender, because in my mind they are the same thing. Femininity comes with terms and conditions.

This morning, something was different. For the first time, I woke up and the anger wasn’t there. It’s turned into something else. Exhaustion, depression, hopelessness. I don’t know what word to use to describe it. I’m sitting in my dorm room right now as aware of the immense privilege that comes along with my identity as I can be. Still, I can’t breathe. The culture I live in does not want me, or anyone like me, to succeed and I can’t see a way out.

Rape is ingrained into us from birth. It almost seems that being assaulted is as much of a right of passage for girls as assaulting is for boys. Look at the president, look at Kavanaugh, look at Brock Turner, look at Hollywood, look at your friends. Now look at Dr. Ford, look at Kesha, look at Hollywood, look at your friends. Its inescapable and ignored and traumatizing.

That’s not even the fucked up part. The most fucked up thing about this is that I’m more worried about the mental health of the boy who raped me than my own even though the only thing I see when I close my eyes is his hand covering my mouth when I tried to say no. As a woman, I have been trained into passivity. I have been trained to put my well being after others’. I have even been trained into making my anger unoffensive. I’m not alone in this. #whyididntreport, #ibeleiveher, #metoo are all direct testaments to the disregard with which our society treats sexual assault and survivors. Yes the rapist’s life is affected by accusations, but so is the survivor’s. What makes one life more worthy than another?

Everything happening with Kavanaugh isn’t the start of all these feelings. It’s a catalyst. I can’t speak for all people, or even all women. I can only speak for myself, and I’m fed up. The precedent being set it an awful one. Women aren’t being over dramatic when we say our lives depend on this. They really do.

This burden shouldn’t just fall on women. We can’t carry the cross. Rape culture doesn’t just hurt us. It hurts male survivors. It hurts male perpetrators. A culture that has no respect for autonomy is in no way healthy for anyone. We need support if we want to make a difference.

The process of recovering from a trauma is long and hard. There’s anger, sadness, worry, and joy. There are good days and bad days. I’m done feeling like everyday is a bad day and I don’t know what to do about it.

This doesn’t even touch on half the problems. I didn’t mention the other issues with Kavanaugh’s potential appointment. I didn’t mention the system classism and racism that plagues us. I brushed the surface of one issue and as much as I would like to pour all my anger onto this page, this is all I have the energy for right now.

Every good wish,

Julia

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