Thursday, September 27, 2018

Burn It All Down



Rage.

That's what we feel.

Rage.

I wish I could find a photo of my eighteen year old self, the innocent self that attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who pledged a sorority, who attended fraternity parties, who got drunk only a few times, but one time in particular at a party and afterward when a boy whose family name emblazoned a dormitory took me back to his dorm room and when I felt woozy (I had never been drunk) and said so, he told me to sit down on the bed lie down you'll feel better and then with lie simultaneously put his very large hand at the top of my stomach, just below my chest I think it's called the solar plexus and pushed me backward but I knew in that moment, I knew his hand, and even as I looked up into his nostrils so wide, so long I knew what was happening and my head cleared and I struggled up his hand there and sat up and stood up and walked out the door and ran down the stairs and out of the dorm and on to mine. I don't remember if I told anyone about that, then. I was a little bit drunk. Maybe he really wanted to help me. 

I went to college with lots of Kavanaughs. 1981-1985. The parties, the garbage cans filled with Hawaiian Punch and grain alcohol. The ancient black man who tended bar, at the "cocktail" parties and called every girl Miss and her date's last name, his voice soft as he handed out gin and tonics. The rumor of girls pulling trains. Girls who woke up and had forgotten what happened the night before. The smell of piss and stale beer in the hallways of the fraternity houses in the morning. The boys in one fraternity who hung tampons from their Christmas tree in the entrance of their "house," just at the bottom of the winding staircase where girls and boys far wilder than I disappeared. The secret societies where the most privileged boys belonged, along with professors and alumni, the Castle and the Lodge, their arcane rituals. The parties there where lines of cocaine were sniffed up with dollar bills, where girls' boyfriends had nicknames like "The Doctor," the wink wink of dealers, the wall-crawling thumping of music and ecstasy-fueled camaraderie. The teeth grinding afterward. I knew all of it, participated in little of it, was usually sober, my own boyfriend and his friends drinkers but never all that. There are always choices to be made. I watched it. All rich. All white. The Daddies. The privilege. The entitlement. The racism. Yes, the racism. Antebellum parties with blackface. The laughter. No integration in the sororities and fraternities despite attempts. My grandmama would never pay for my membership if we let black girls in, I read on a slip of paper when we canvassed for reactions. I could never live in the same room with a black girl, another.

I don't think the men on either side really get it, do they. And the women on one side, yes there are sides, yes there are tribes and that is not the real danger. The women on that side who just don't can't won't get it. So much hurt and darkness and once they were little boys and yet, still.

As much as we've been taught otherwise, I say burn the whole thing down. 


12 comments:

  1. We are not pawns in anyone's game. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford spoke for us all. Your vivid memories add to her evidence.

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  2. This. Yes. Burn it to the ground. We've had enough.

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  3. It seems to me that something I've never really thought about in so many words is that it was always the rich white boys who were the "nasty" ones. The ones that didn't seem to have any concept of the rules of gentlemanly behavior, who would push things, people, women, limits in ways that no one else would because of course being the rich white boys they had been taught from birth that yes, they were entitled and no, the rules did not apply to them. They might know which fork to use for the shrimp but they had no concept of shame or respect.
    I don't know, Elizabeth but I do know that I am old and that I will never see a true resolution in these matters. What I see is that forty, fifty years after the women's liberation movement, we are not liberated in the least. Not from fear, not from terror, not from pain, not from shame, not from self-doubt. Nor have we achieved the certain sure knowledge that our bodies belong to us and to us alone.
    I love you. That I do know.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Millsaps College 1990-1994
    Phi Mu
    No boys or much drinking for me, but I remember all-night philosophy sessions or study jams in fraternity houses, guys who read Greek and Latin, maybe some work by St. Augustine on the table for discussion, maybe even Rev. James Cone, discussed in all earnestness, while prettier, curvier girls disappeared into rooms, possibly drunk, probably helpless, but giggling, and I felt infinitely superior. "You're just like a man. You don't want to be like those girls. You're one of us." The same guys who could delicately discuss Aquinas' proofs of the existence of God would make vulgar, threatening phone calls to any girl, friend or stranger, who had "wronged" one of his fraternity brothers. They would hand around her number, if, for instance, she had broken up with a guy (or threatened to report a rape?) and every one of a hundred guys or so would call and threaten her, one after the next. "Hurt one of us, you hurt us all."

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  5. Rage, yes. I had no idea I could feel as outraged as I do! There is comfort in knowing I am not alone, that we're united in this rage, a sisterhood on fire.

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  6. The thing is, almost every woman you know has a story. Many of them have many stories. I have two stories, two that stood out above the rest, two that could not be confused as anything else less than a violation, with all the violence in that word, and I told no one, I swallowed these nights and told myself "you should not have been in his room; this is what happens," and the only soul on this i have ever told before writing this comment is my husband. How many secrets have we kept as they turned to poison inside us. No wonder we rage.

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  7. ...the only soul "on this earth," is what it should have read, and thank you for your rage.

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  8. I, too, am full of rage. I only write about it in short pieces on Facebook. The thought of writing a blog post on it is more than I can bear. The memories and experiences this is bringing up for many of us is astounding. A real wake up call (as if we needed one, well, WE didn't). I hope good women and men stay mad as hell for a very long time. We should. We should work on getting these rich white entitled bastards out of public office and out of the courts for sure.

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  9. I never attended University so that wasn't an experience I was familiar with, tho' I did suspect that rich Kids of privilege played by a whole other set of Rules than the rest of us. Still, even outside of privilege there have been the assaults against Women and Girls of all ages, it transcends socioeconomic boundaries sadly... it is way too prevalent.

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