CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The last two years have been like a horror movie playing out in super-slow motion. Even though progressives made some fantastic gains on Election Day, I find myself exhausted and sad. And ever since Brett Kavanaugh, it’s gotten worse.

I've stopped watching the news—any news. However, I still scroll through comment sections on Facebook, and I hear conversations in bars, at the grocery store, at the office … and I am horrified, because now we are talking about rape—specifically, rape in the 1980s.

Things were a lot different in the ’80s. We were taught through film, TV and books that rape was something that happened to you in a dark alley, or at a rest stop, or in a parking lot, usually late at night, by a total stranger (often black). We were taught that good girls didn’t get drunk, didn’t dress provocatively, didn’t go out alone, and never brought men back to their homes—because that was “leading him on,” and if something happened, we were “asking for it.” It wasn’t until later in the decade that we started to discuss what we called “date rape.” I’m not sure why we had to qualify it with the word ”date” to separate it from “real” rape.

I was 19, with an infant child, working as a cocktail waitress in a busy nightclub. He was tall with blue eyes and adorable blond curls. He came in a few times and eventually asked me out on a date.

I said yes. I got dressed up—a black mini-skirt with ruffles, spike heels and a leopard-print blouse. We went to the club where I worked, and we had a lot of drinks. We danced a little … and he was so attractive.

He took me back to his house. We smoked pot and drank some more, before he offered to drive me back to my apartment. Once there, I invited him in.

Yes … I invited him in. I was attracted to him. I wanted the night to continue, and if I am being completely honest, I have to admit I was considering getting intimate with him.

I was not given a choice.

We sat on my couch, and he started kissing me hard—too hard. I tried to pull back, but he had my head in a vise-like grip. He forced his tongue down my throat … and I knew. Before he pushed me down, I knew. I put my hand on his chest and tried to push him away, but he was strong and determined. I decided not to push very hard, because I was afraid he would make it worse if I did.

I had an out-of-body experience. I could see him on top of me, as if I was looking down from the ceiling. Thankfully, it was over very quickly. He came, got up and pulled up his pants. He kissed me on the forehead, told me he’d had a great time and walked out my front door. I heard him drive away.

I lay there for a long time, paralyzed. I took that famous scalding hot bath, and I cried dry, wracking tears until the tub got cold. All those warnings I’d heard came back to me: Why hadn’t I listened? I was stupid and foolish.

I was never going to tell anybody what I had “let” happen. We whispered about those girls. “She was raped” somehow meant she was tainted, ruined. We thought of her as dirty and slutty—completely deserving of her fate: “Well she should have KNOWN better.”

We didn't report our rapes in the ’80s. To report meant being labeled as a slut, as damaged, as dirty. To report meant getting essentially raped again in an emergency room, by a doctor collecting “evidence.” Reporting meant going to court to get emotionally raped by your rapist’s lawyer and possibly the judge. To report meant everybody knew and whispered behind your back. To report was the equivalent of putting yourself on trial for the crime of being raped.

I was in denial. I prayed no one would ever find out. I started to have the nightmares. I was walking down the street in broad daylight, and I would see him. He was always wearing all-black, always silent. He would see me, and I would try to run, but my legs wouldn’t move, and he would catch up to me, push me down and rape me right there on the sidewalk. The street was typically one from my childhood, a street I had taken on walks home from school. The rape was always much more physically violent than the one I had experienced.

Depression and a suicide attempt followed. I was in a locked ward for eight weeks for my own protection.

It came out during a therapy session. My therapist looked at me with such compassion, and said, ”Honey, you were raped. You were raped, and it wasn’t your fault.” This simple statement rocked my world. The dreams disappeared, and I stopped blaming myself for what happened. But I still felt tainted, soiled. I am one of tens of millions of women who had this experience.

Years went by; decades went by. Today, I don’t often think about the time I was raped—or at least I didn’t until the Supreme Court hearings.

Tens of millions of women, like me, have been triggered. Millennial women are crying out #metoo. Even some men are now revealing the truth about the rapes they have experienced. This can lead to anxiety, depression, a return of nightmares, and reliving the rapes.

Those of us going through this need compassion, nurturing and unconditional love. Please believe us when we tell our stories, even if we can’t remember the details, dates and names. Please reassure us that we are not ruined, not dirty. Remind us that it wasn’t our fault. We need you right now. We need men to believe us, to show us that not all men are violent. We need to heal from the freshly re-opened wounds we are experiencing; whether you thought Ms. Ford was telling the truth is not the issue. Rape is the issue.

The time has come to change the language we use. We used to say, “No means NO.” Now we must learn to say, “Only yes means yes.”

I left my rape behind for 30 years. I’d have left it alone forever if I could have—but perhaps this is my chance to finally be free. I can make a decision to feel those feelings without harsh self-criticism. I may not want to, but I get to process my rape today. As scary as it is, I can allow those petrified feelings to thaw and really feel them for the first time. I’m not anywhere near there yet, but I have hope that such a day will come soon—the day when I can finally set myself free.

Published in Community Voices

On this week's narrowly confirmed weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson looks at the Supreme Court silver lining; The K Chronicles updates us on the chickens; This Modern World brings us a tale from Donald J. Trump, detective-in-chief; Red Meat lets the kids make costumes; and Apoca Clips pays tribute to the great Banksy.

Published in Comics

Is it even possible for a couple that stopped having sex to start back up again?

My girlfriend and I (we’re both women) have been together for four years, and we haven’t had sex for two. I thought the sex was good before it stopped, but apparently she was going through the motions. She’s a sex worker, and it took her a while to figure out she was not being present, and she wanted to stop having sex with me until she could figure out how to change that. I get that and respect it. We have an open relationship, so I started having more sex with other people. And while it’s fun, I do find myself wishing I could have sex with someone I actually care about—and I only care about her.

She says she wants to start having sex with me again, but we don’t really know how to do that. Everything is kind of terrifying and awkward. She said it’s hard to go from sex with zero intimacy into sex with the intimacy turned up to 11. We’re very romantic with each other, and there are other forms of physical affection like kisses and snuggling, but no making out or humping. I love her more than I knew I could love a person, and if we never do figure out how to have sex together, I’ll still stay with her. But for two people who are both highly sexual and want to have sex with each other, we sure are perplexed at how to make this work.

Sex Or Romance Dilemma

“Let’s cut to the chase: Yes, it is possible for a couple that has stopped having sex to start having it again,” said Dr. Lori Brotto, a clinical psychologist and a sex researcher at the University of British Columbia.

You ended on a note of despair, SORD, but Brotto sees two good reasons for hope: You and your girlfriend are completely open and honest with each other, and you’re committed to staying together whether or not the sex resumes. Your communication skills and that rock-solid commitment—neither of you are going anywhere—are the bedrock on which you can rebuild your sex life.

“There are two aspects of SORD’s question that jump out at me: One, the reference to wanting to be present for sex, and two, the description of the situation as terrifying and awkward,” said Brotto. “SORD’s girlfriend likely perfected the practice of ‘going elsewhere’ during sex while at work, which meant that it became almost automatic for her to do this while having sex in her relationship. This is classic mindlessness, and it is why mindfulness—the state of full awareness to the present moment in a kind and compassionate way—may be a tool for her to consider implementing.”

Mindfulness is the subject of Brotto’s new book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.

“Mindfulness has a long history in Buddhist meditation, and it allowed monks to sit with their present experience, including pain and suffering, for hours or days—or sometimes weeks and months,” said Dr. Brotto. “In more recent years, mindfulness has been reconceptualized as a tool that anyone can use and benefit from. It doesn’t rely on having a Buddhist orientation or a cave to retreat to.”

So how does this ancient mindfulness stuff work where modern girl-on-girl sex is concerned?

“The practice is simple,” said Brotto. “It involves deliberately paying attention to sensations, sounds and thoughts in the present moment—and noticing when the mind gets pulled elsewhere and then gently but firmly guiding it back. Mindfulness is also about not berating yourself for finding it challenging or judging yourself for the thoughts you have.”

In her practice, Dr. Brotto has seen research subjects successfully use mindfulness to cultivate and/or reignite sexual desire, calm anxiety, and relieve the awkwardness and fear that some people experience with sex.

“Suffice it to say,” she said, “there is an impressive body of research that supports the practice of mindful sex, and people who otherwise may believe that their minds are incapable of staying still can effectively learn to fully engage their attention to sex and the person(s) with whom they are having sex. It doesn’t matter if you are skeptical about whether mindfulness works or not—if you are willing to learn the skills and apply it to sex, you’re likely to benefit.”

If you’re nervous or scared that it won’t work or that you’ll never reconnect sexually with your girlfriend, SORD, Brotto wants you to know that those feelings are perfectly normal.

“The uncertainty surrounding what will happen when they try to reintegrate sex can be terrifying for some couples,” said Brotto. “What if it doesn’t work? What if neither of them has desire? What if the sex is just plain bad? If SORD and her partner are worrying about the anticipated sex, or even catastrophizing over it—a jargony term meaning they imagine it ending in disaster—that can make it damn near impossible to remain in the present. The good news is that mindfulness can help with the tendency to get lost on the thought train.”

So here’s what you’re going to do, SORD: Order a copy of Dr. Brotto’s new book, and read it with your girlfriend. And while you wait for the book to arrive, you’re going to try a mindful touching exercise called “sensate focus.”

“She will invite her girlfriend to touch her from head to toe, minus the genitals, for 15 minutes—without the goal of triggering arousal or desire,” said Brotto. “SORD’s role is to pay attention to the sensations emerging, and curtail any thoughts by redirecting attention to the here and now. And relax. After 15 minutes, they switch roles so SORD becomes the giver, and her girlfriend is the receiver. This is not foreplay. It is not manual sexual stimulation. It is a mindfulness exercise designed to teach a person to remain in the present while receiving sensual touch.”

There are solo mindfulness exercises, SORD, and some good, commercially available apps out there that can walk you through them. But if your goal is reconnecting with your girlfriend, Brotto strongly recommends that you two work on mindfulness together.

“My view is that a couple-based mindfulness exercise like sensate focus will get them to their goal of mind-blowing, mind-knowing sex,” said Brotto.

Follow Dr. Brotto on Twitter @DrLoriBrotto.


CONFIDENTIAL TO AMERICAN CITIZENS EVERYWHERE

Furious about Brett Kavanaugh? Me, too. That’s why I donated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Our only hope of protecting a woman’s right to choose, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, the environment and organized labor—our only hope for blocking Trump’s anti-everyone-and-everything agenda—is to take back the U.S. House and Senate this November. If the Democrats control the House come January (which looks likely), they can impeach Kavanaugh; if they control the Senate come January (a longer shot but within reach), they can put Kavanaugh on trial—and that means a full investigation into all the allegations against him, including the numerous ways in which he perjured himself during his confirmation hearings. It would take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove Kavanaugh, and Dems likely won’t take that many seats—but if a trial uncovers proof that Kavanaugh committed the crimes he’s been accused of and lied to Congress, perhaps enough Republicans can be shamed into voting to remove him. (Republicans feeling shame? That may be the longest of long shots.) Go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website (dscc.org); click “contribute”; and give what you can.

CONFIDENTIAL TO CANADIAN STUDENTS IN ONTARIO

Thank you for walking out of your classrooms to protest the scrapping of Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum by Doug Ford, your newish (and thuggish) premier. Every student deserves an up-to-date sexual education that covers reproduction, pleasure, consent, tech, sexting, sexual abuse and LGBTQ issues. Watching students stand up against Ford’s reactionary, bigoted, sex-negative assholery has been truly inspiring. Keep it up!

On the Lovecast, are sugar babies sex workers?: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITFMA.org.

Published in Savage Love

On this week's lying-to-Congress weekly Independent comics page: The Supreme Court confirmation hearings are on everyone's minds as Apoca Clips checks in with Brett Kavanaugh's new endorsement deal; Red Meat deals with some construction; Jen Sorenson ponders Kavanaugh's version of high school slang; The K Chronicles examines the range of while male privilege; and This Modern World honors the weirdness of the shifting Republican narrative regarding Kavanaugh.

Published in Comics

On this week's laughed-at-by-the-United Nations weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson preps the women who are now coming forward; (Th)INK examines Brett Kavanaugh's character; This Modern World ponders the ever-shifting excuses regarding Brett Kavanaugh; Red Meat enjoys Milkman Dan's delicious barbecue; and Apoca Clips gives Bill Cosby a pre-sentencing shave.

Published in Comics

On this week's mushroom-shaped weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles ponders Donald Trump's fervent supporters; This Modern World looks at yet another Trump tweet cycle; Jen Sorenson predicts Brett Kavanaugh's oath of office; Red Meat offers up some special milk; and Apoca Clips talks to Li'l Trumpy, climate-change denier.

Published in Comics

On this week's hurricane-fearing weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World watches as Brett Kavanaugh refuses to answer questions; Jen Sorenson has Kavanaugh get possessed by the Spirit of Honesty; (th)ink honors the greatness of the film Sorry to Bother You; Apoca Clips lights some shoes on fire; and Red Meat watches as Karen seeks legal help from Milkman Dan.

Published in Comics

On this week's extra-unhinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson wonders what some Democrats are thinking when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh; The K Chronicles honors Colin Kaepernick; This Modern World watches some Fox News with the president; Apoca Clips gets a cut from Geoffrey Owens; and Red Meat is encouraged to have a healthier diet.

Published in Comics

On this week's treason-fearing weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles offers a tip o' the hat to the protesters in London; This Modern World previews the path to the Supreme Court; Jen Sorenson ponders the pros and cons of the likely new Supreme Court; Red Meat judges a posedown; and Apoca Clips listens in as Trumpy and Putin get ready to play.

Published in Comics