There are times when the sheer availability of modern media leaves me awestruck. Netflix means that, more than ever before, I can watch my favorites whenever I want. I’m having trouble emphasizing how big that difference is. I spent my youth encountering things I enjoyed and carefully watching for title sequences, “[show] will return after this,” and anything else that put a name on it I could use to recognize it in my friends or on toy-store shelves. I dreaded when shows would inevitably leave the airwaves, and watched reruns obsessively to fill in gaps from the previous viewing. Media was ephemeral, and there were never enough blank VHS tapes to capture it all.
One might expect a silly dichotomy like “cat person vs. dog person” to be uselessly hazy, but I have found great utility in it. There are a whole series of patterns I have come to appreciate that follow that distinction, and some interesting social things happening that enforce them all.
CN/TW: Descriptions of Assault and Rape
I was at a party the other weekend, when the subject of my book came up.
I decided to tell the anecdote of the faith healer, the punch line of which was the description of his hand on my crotch and ass stroking back and forth, while I tried not to laugh in his face or look at my mother who was also struggling. I played it like I always do; for laughs at the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. But this time something was different. Maybe it was the look on the face of the person I was speaking to. Maybe it was the fact that I was already thinking about something related to assault. Whatever it was, even as I was laughing, I was suddenly face with the fact that what I was describing was sexual assault.
A man was touching my body in intimate places, in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. He was stroking my crotch because he knew he could get away with it. Despite the fact that my mother was sitting right there. I was in a position where I couldn’t object, and I couldn’t really refuse. Not without possible consequences.
It’s not as if the realization changed much. I was already an assault victim, having come to terms with what had happened to me at 18 years old with a doctor.
But the realization that I had been telling the story of my assault as a humorous story made me stop and think.