With current events being such as they are, your social media pages must be overrun with Kavanaugh hearings. And if you’re a survivor of sexual abuse you may be feeling a bit under attack. I know I and a lot of my friends are. Because of the abuse I survived, I have PTSD. I pretty much have a handle on it most days but when you’re being constantly bombarded with triggering content it can be hard. It’s made especially hard by people who do not tag the content they post properly or not at all.
Cn: talk of consent, bodily autonomy, use of physical force to defend oneself
CN: Discussion of Statistics in relations to disability, other social issues, sexual assault, and abuse.
There are times when I am talking to someone about my life- about the fact that I’m scared of new proposed laws making it harder for me to survive in Ontario, or about how I’m one particularly unlucky day away from being homeless – when I get the feeling like the person I’m talking to thinks I’m exaggerating. They get this look on their faces that makes it clear they’re just humoring me by not pointing out how ridiculous I’m being. Meanwhile, I’m already minimizing how severe my situation is out of fear of being accused of exaggerating. Worse still, my circumstances are relatively minor compared to that of many of my friends and readers.
When they don’t automatically dismiss what I’m saying as being hyperbole, the people I speak with assume that my case is rare – an exception. A circumstance not worthy of planning against because it’s unlikely to happen again. And yet? Every day I meet someone new in the same type of situation I find myself in. It’s become so textbook, some people look at me as though I’m performing magic when I manage to guess the ridiculous circumstances they find themselves in or repeat almost verbatim what they’ve heard from doctors, therapists, or other people.
It’s a matter of framing, of perspective.
To someone in the mainstream, what is happening to me must be the result of either something I did wrong, or something extremely rare, or impossible. It seems like the probability of all the things going wrong that go wrong happening seem impossible.
What are the chances that every relationship you’ve been in is abusive?
What are the chances that so many of your doctors end up incompetent? That so many doctors end up holding biased opinions?
What are the chances that everyone around you is so terrible? Doesn’t it seem more likely that you are the problem? Statistically speaking that is?
CN: description of r*pe, uncensored use of that word, domestic violence, violations of privacy, coercion, alcohol, emesis
Heed the content notice, while this post ends on a positive note, the bulk of it is tough and potentially triggering. Please take your time and take a break if you need to.
CN: Discussions of CSA, SA, Violence, Homophobia, Ableism, and so on.
Continue reading “Mental Illness, Sexual Orientation, or Crime?”
Netflix’s original series Grace & Frankie returned for it’s third season March 24th. I love this program. However, a plot point which begins towards the end of the latest season bothered me and I needed to write this.
Spoilers ahead, content note for stalking and manipulation
Episode 11, The Other Vibrator
Grace and Frankie now have their own company, Vybrant, and they’ve launched a vibrator made specifically for older women.
They discover another company , Onmi Tech, has stolen their idea. They send a cease-and-desist letter via their lawyer and then have a meeting with the other company’s legal team. It’s during this meeting that the head of the company, Nick, spots Grace. He immediately walks into the meeting.
The whole time he’s in the meeting, he doesn’t take his eyes off Grace, to the point that even when he’s responding to Frankie, he only looks at Grace. He’s told why the meeting is taking place and proceeds to kick out his legal team (which by the way, includes his own son). Grace dismisses her lawyer as well. Grace can already tell this man is interested in her and her intent seems to play this to her advantage. Which, I can get behind. Nick is the type of man who likes to feel powerful and have his ego stroked. If Grace can use her “feminine wiles” to save her company, then by all means. There’s some flirtation and Frankie’s attempts to also be a part of the conversation, which honestly save the whole scene. Otherwise this is a very run of the mill cis hets being bland. Nick suggests he and Grace go to dinner so he can “make this all go away”. Frankie however sees what’s going on.
Frankie tells Nick they’ll sue him. He says, “Ok, I’ll see you in court”. He turns to Grace and says, “At least I’ll get to see you again.”
Episode 13, The Sign (Episode 12, focuses on Sol and Robert which is why I’m skipping it)
In this episode the women is served cease-and-desist papers from Omni Tech.
Later in the episode, Grace is on the phone with Nick. And well, see for yourself:
Grace: Are you kidding me? You can’t sue us! It was our idea!
Nick: Grace, you said you were gonna sue me, but I never heard from you.
What’s a guy got to do to get your attention?
Grace: You’re suing me so you can see me?
Nick: I’m being proactive, one of the things you like about me.
Grace: [scoffs] There is nothing I like about you.
Nick: Oh, come on, it’s cute. I’m a scamp.
Grace: Oh, stop. This is not a game to me. We built Vybrant from nothing in our 70s. And it was just starting to take off. And not filling orders is not good for business. And if you think that I’m going down without a fight, you’re not as smart as you look.
Nick: You think I look smart?
Grace: What is wrong with you?
And scene! (emphasis mine)
So, what do we see here? Nick used the legal system to get a hold of Grace. She and her new company are vulnerable and he knows this. He dismisses her very legitimate concerns by laughing it off. He tries to gaslight her by making it seem like she is the one who likes him, he’s doing this for her, really. This is a joke to him. Like Grace said, she and Frankie built their company in their 70’s. If you’re familiar with the show, you know they’ve dealt with the topic of ageism and how society views (or doesn’t) women over a certain age. This is clearly a way to manipulate Grace. He’s counting on the fact that as an older woman, she’ll feel like she can’t say no.
Later in the episode, Nick shows up at the house, comes in even though Grace never invited him in. Grace tells him Frankie has had a stroke, he shows concern for a second and then it’s back to pressuring Grace to go out with him.
Again, emphasis mine:
Grace: Would you stop playing games with me? Things are hard enough right now.
I can’t even work because of your cease-and-desist.
Nick: I just wanted to see you. Look, Grace, my original offer still stands. Have dinner with me. One little dinner. I’ll drop our vibrator, nobody sues anybody, and we all go on with our lives.
Grace: And what do you expect to get out of this dinner that will never happen?
Nick: Nothing untoward. I want us to get to know each other. Come on one dinner.
Grace: That’s all I’d have to do and you’d drop everything? Stay out of my business? My life?
Then there’s a back and forth about what type of meal, where it’ll be, how they’ll get there, even what they’ll eat. I’m sure it’s meant to be cute. It’s meant to show that Grace isn’t easy and just look at how hard poor Nick has to work to get a simple date with Grace.
After shaking hands on the “deal”:
Grace: Why are we doing this?
Nick: Because I can’t get you out of my head.
Grace: Then you should get a new head.
Nick: I would, but I have great hair.
See? He’s so funny. How very charming.
Grace arrives and brings along paper work for Nick to sign saying he won’t pursue the lawsuit. Once that matter is settled, Grace begins to tell Nick about herself in a very disinterested tone. Nick offers her alcohol which she at first refuses because “pre-late lunch drinks” had “not been negotiated”. Nick then says he’ll have “to pour out this extremely dry martini with olives flown in this morning all the way from Spain”. Again, if you’ve watched the show, you’ll know a dry martini is Grace’s drink of choice. She asks how he knew that.
Nick: Because I did a little research on you.
Grace: That’s terrifying.
Nick: I got the lowdown on Say Grace.
Grace: Oh, did you?
Nick: Solid growth ten quarters in a row, despite the beauty market’s volatility.
Grace: Well, it’s 11 quarters, but who’s counting?
Nick: We are. It’s so us.
From the beginning, Grace has been rightfully upset about Nick’s behavior. She correctly identifies that his STALKING is indeed terrifying. After another
charming obnoxious back and forth:
Nick: If you’re an expert, explain them to me.
Grace: Oh, God, no. I am a nightmare when it comes to relationships.
Nick: Yeah, well, I read that in the research.
Grace: Where are we going? There’s no restaurants out here.
Nick: We never said “restaurant,” we said “food”. I’m meeting all the criteria of our negotiation.
So, we know that Nick is aware of Grace’s past with Robert. He knows she’ll be hesitant to start anything with him or anyone, so he’ll be prepared to use whatever he can to get her to do whatever he wants. He has so far.
I wish Nick wasn’t in this show. His character is gross, a creep who doesn’t respect boundaries and who is willing to use the legal system to bully Grace. This isn’t cute. It isn’t romantic. It’s stalking, manipulation and abusive. This plot line is extremely common, all you need is to look at the synopsis of any “romantic” movie
But just because it’s common doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak up about it. I am hoping next season won’t involve Nick but I know better. I just hope I’m proved wrong, because I love this show and I’d hate to have to quit it, but I will if it comes to that.
CN: gender stereotypes, abuse, SA, fat phobia, victim blaming/shaming, size shaming, r*pe apologia, uncensored use of the word r*pe, toxic masculinity, ableism
CN: SA, CSA, domestic violence, corporal punishment
CN: uncensored used of the word r*pe, dv myths
I believe Melania is a victim of domestic violence (DV). Not just from seeing how she acts, but based on her husband’s history. If you don’t want to show her any pity or sympathy, that’s fine. That’s your right. But please remember that when you say she can easily leave, or that she deserves it you’re hurting me and other survivors of DV. That’s called splash damage.
CN: brief mentions of SA, CSA, use of the word r*pe uncensored
I recently saw the above image on Facebook. Long story short it’s talking about not forcing children to hug people that they don’t want to. To give children a choice and a say in how and when they interact and show affection to known adults. It explains that by teaching children they have a right to say no, that lesson could keep a child from being abused, or it gives them tools to be able to speak up about it.
While most of the comments were positive there was one commenter who balked at the notion of a child not hugging a grandparent, for example. They basically implied that teaching bodily autonomy in the form of hug refusal could lead to intimacy issues or emotional divides. They questioned what kind of family is it that would respect a child’s wishes to hug or not be hugged. They alleged that unless the child is Autistic or has some sort of other sensory issue then that child should always hug someone even if they don’t want to. Otherwise it is disrespectful.
Now please explain this to me: how is it respectful of me to force my child to hug someone she doesn’t want to? Is my child not worthy of respect?
The same person said that the idea of children having boundaries is silly because something about being potty-trained, so that obviously children do not have the cognitive ability to make boundaries.
This person kept going on and on about respect. When I was little my family forced me to hug a certain family member. That didn’t teach me respect. It taught me I had no say, it taught me that anybody had a right to my body. I do not find it a coincidence that I’ve been raped and sexually assaulted. I was taught not to say no. Is that what we want to teach our children?
If I want to model good behavior to my child, if I want to teach them that they have bodily autonomy, if I want them to grow up to be people who respect others’ autonomy; then childhood is the perfect time to do so. It is in childhood when you set the foundation for who they will become as adults.
This goes back to an older post I wrote in which I said that as a culture we do not respect children. We don’t see them as fully fledged people with ideas and dreams and hopes of their own. We don’t think of them as people who can have opinions, wants, dislikes and likes. We see them as carbon copies of ourselves but they’re not.
If we want this current generation of children to grow into compassionate, emphatic adults then we need to teach them that they have value; they have worth. That they have bodily autonomy and that they have to respect others’ right to space and privacy.
We cannot tell them (whether through words or actions) that they are not worthy of respect. As parents, educators, as elders we owe it to our children to show them respect because otherwise, why should we expect them to respect us?