When I first heard about the Jian-saga, my reaction was much like other people’s: I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t true but I felt sorry for Jian on some level. I’m a regular Q listener and though I am not crazy about his interview style, I’ve often been moved and challenged by his opening essays. If I had run into him on the street, I likely would have been a wee bit star-struck and I may even have swooned. I didn’t want the accusations to be true. And I asked the question I’m now desperately ashamed of asking – why had a single report not been made to the police if these women had experienced such violence?
Let me be frank: I am a woman who has been raped. I am a woman who never once made a report to the police.
As that person, I questioned the validity of claims because they had never been officially reported.
And I realized that I have grown up in, lived in, consented to, and participated in a social contract that judges women for the violence against them based on perceptions of choice. I, a woman who has been silenced by this fucked up paradigm, perpetuated it.
I was a fourteen-year-old girl who was skipping catechism classes to hang out with a secret older boyfriend. I yearned for excitement and rebellion and the feeling of being special. What I got spoiled every ounce of those normal adolescent urges. For the last twenty some odd years I have struggled and battled with the decisions I made that night. For the last twenty years I have owned the horror of that night as something I invited, as something I allowed, as something I chose.
It’s dominated the folder I’ve labeled “bad decisions”.
When I first wrote publicly about my experience of rape, I ended it this way: “In a long list of bad decisions that night I obeyed. I got into the truck with an inebriated rapist.”
Choice is a tricky thing. Both in what it actually means (how does “choice” unfold in moments of such huge power differences?) and in feelings of ownership. We teach our children empowerment and maturity by offering them choices. We teach them to feel connected to their world by employing the act of choice. We teach them that choice equals power.
The act of choice.
We don’t know yet what will happen in the days and weeks to come with the Jian-horror-saga. But I do know that at the very least, it’s begun a conversation that might just chip away at the false-beliefs we’ve built around sex, power, choice, and consent.
For that alone, I’m grateful for this moment in time.