Pissing into the toxic sea.
Spitting out the last of my bloody toothpaste into my bathroom sink, knowing full well when I looked up into the bathroom mirror I’d see the reflection of the eyes of the man who’d violated me the night before starring back at me from the couch as he’d awakened hungover. Sure enough, looking up, I matched his gaze in the reflection.
Within a matter of minutes he’d left my home, headed to church of all places, he was a man of god after all and it seemed to be fading away, or so I believed. I would spend the next six months of my life completely hating men, and all things masculine. Raging against the patriarchy, demanding the wage gap be closed without ever having done research into the actual meaning behind it, and seeing the world as us verses them.
We had just been chattel after all hadn’t we?
Men were still our former owners now weren’t they?
Caustic in nature, this hatred I felt for the penis people became too much to handle and eventually via therapy, alcoholism, and a lack of compartmentalization I let that shit go. However, the idea that a single violent incident triggered a hatred of an entire gender of the species within me caused me to question if I had been caught up in the madness of the 3rd wave war between men and women or if I fundamentally was lacking in emotional maturity in my understanding of human nature and the concept of us all being equal. As time moved forward and events unfolded over the two in a half years that followed this article has evolved into what it is today.
According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center as of 2015, 91% of all rape victims are women and roughly 63% of rape is not reported (1). Despite the popularization of the #MeToo movement on Twitter as a means of many celebrities drawing attention to the underworld of exceptionally under-reported sexual assault allegations within Hollywood, the movement itself started a decade before it was made seemingly famous on social media and had little glitz or glam to it’s origins. This movement, regardless of where it stands today, was pivotal in uniting individuals across the globe in sharing their experiences of assault, survival and recovery. Social media savored, exploited, and milked every story dry in a desperate effort to continue the momentum of the “drama” machine that runs Western culture and influences the world. Few things make the internet more juicy that a good click bait headline right?
However, before anyone could slow the train down, the MeToo movement was careening through stations skipping stops, reducing survivors into simply victims, casting out all recovery they’d made in life, and turning any individual to have an allegation lobbed against them guilty until proven otherwise. Teetering on the rails, the movement began to lose control even being led by some of the most notable influencers of Hollywood and lose credibility even among feminist like myself. Men versus Women, Us V. Them, toxic femininity vs. toxic masculinity, is what the movement began quickly devolving into, and with only half the wheels on the rails, stopping the train at this point became impossible.
Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist and original founder of the MeToo movement shared her same deep concerns with the state of the movement itself in a recent interview. “What #MeToo allowed people to do was create community with these shared experiences. You have a built-in group of people who automatically gets you, who automatically believes you, who automatically wants to hear you, that’s the wildfire in it. (2)” Burke continued on “We have to shift the narrative that it’s a gender war, that it’s anti-male, that it’s men verses women, that it’s only for a certain type of person-that it’s for white, cisgendered, heterosexual, famous women. That has to shift. (2)”
Her words cut through me immensely as she spoke pure, undeniable truth. By the time the movement had surged, my own healing process had begun and the sense of community that came with the tweets, blogs and direct messages was all the same uplifting. I supported it. Tweeted it out. Shared my own story. But...it didn’t take long for me to see that although I so vehemently wanted to be an individual who lifted up and provided that very sense of community that appealed to me to others, this movement was marching forward with hardly any of us queerdos in tow. Not belonging, even in my own scene, was a feeling I was accustomed to. Born to a harsh upbringing, cast into a world of judgment, and forged in the fires of a collapsing economy, deteriorating Geo-political state, and failing bio-sphere, not belonging or being wanted was a feeling I knew all to well. Who cared right?…….not me...that was….until Argento.
The giant, confusing, cluster fuck that is Asia Argento.
Asia Argento, until the explosion of the MeToo movement was simply that chick from that shitty Vin Diesel movie to me. I didn’t even know she was with Bourdain until he passed to be honest. Regardless, her words at Cannes seemed to be a declaration of war. A sort of call to arms for all survivors. And I heard them, loud and clear.
“You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are, and we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer. (3)” She evoked these words in the throws of Weinstein’s downfall while addressing a room of equally creepy folks. It made quite the impact.
Her words exploded across news outlets and social media around the world, even evoking a tearful response from my dead as fuck heart. Holy shit, is this the beginning of the end? Did her haphazardly improvised speech at Cannes actually scare the predators of Hollyweird? Were we going to start seeing change?
Of course not. That would be reasonable. That would be hopeful and bright and beautiful. But we’re talking about a movement that Hollyweird hijacked from the damn victims themselves, the commoners, us normies, why would it ever end in anything other than a disaster?
Alas, enter Jimmy Bennett.
Fall of 2018 arrived you know just the usual state of insanity, the world is still burning with the climate in dire straits, and the future’s of Gen's X, Y, and Z continued on a downward trajectory, why wouldn’t a giant confusing cluster fuck dropped into the middle of MeToo be warranted?
Whether you chose to believe someone who presents sexual assault allegations against another individual immediately, wait for a trail, believe the accused, or believe neither, all in all is your choice, and this article is not meant to sway you one way or another on any particular case. The point of this piece is to simply ground you into the reality that nobody wants to live on either side of such tragedy.
September 2018, Jimmy Bennett, a young actor from the world of Hollyweird made a sexual assault allegation against Asia Argento herself. To complicate things even drastically further, as reports continued to come out, it was revealed that Argento or “someone in her camp” payed Bennett off for his silence (4).
Evolving into little more that a he said she said conflict, where she claimed he had jumped her, and all the same Bennett claimed that he had ever intention of filing a police report against her for her crimes. To date he has yet to do so, however that didn’t keep this situation from becoming an all out emotional mind fuck for every single human involved or watching (4).
2018 claimed a lot of lives, but the loss of the life of Anthony Bourdain was nothing short of emotionally traumatizing to any human who knew him or struggled with darkness as he did. As the he said, she said cluster fuck raged on Argento made a power move that cost her the support of myself and many, many others.
In a desperate attempt to seemingly keep her own hands clean of the blood Argento threw Bourdain under the bus (4). Claiming he had made the payment to Bennett to keep the problem at bay, Argento essentially washed her hands of this matter. All accused in this society are guilty until proven innocent right?
Leaving me speechless and in tears upon hearing this news, this news forced me into my own come to Jesus meeting about my emotions on the matter….and there is was….the emotions. The humanness I hated acknowledging.
My tagline for years has been that I am the master of avoidance. I even made up a dance called the Compartmentalization Conga….the moves are simple, you just run away from everyone and everything. Get it?
Avoiding processing emotions has been my coping mechanism for as long as I can remember. It always made more sense to file the feelings away and deal with them on a rainy day or in therapy some time later. I mean come on, emotions are for those who want to feel human right?
And who the fuck really wants to feel human?
Well, in reality all of us should. Even. Me. Too.
And perhaps that’s a prevailing issue underlining all of this. Emotions. Humanness.
Avoidance, compartmentalization, filing feelings away, all of these behaviors I engage in are learned, not innate….and if I’m using negative coping mechanisms, how many others of us are walking around doing the same?
Simply being alive and facing the plight of the Sisyphean nature of the human condition is hard for everyone in the first place. Throw sexual trauma, drama demanding western culture, and Hollyweird into the mix and before you know, most likely you’re going to see a destabilization in emotions.
So here we are. With a helpful, hopeful movement seemingly without a leader, I mean, at least not the leader it needs. The accused being deemed via the public court of opinion guilty without due process. Victims and those falsely accused left with lives in pieces and in desperation to find normalcy on the other side of disruption.
Here. We. Are.
Humans swimming in darkness. Drowning in a sea of emotions. A sea that crashes waves of gender inequality, victim syndrome, and absolute confusion into all of us. Frigid in it’s temperature this toxic sea finds itself riddled with pollution from suffrage, outdated ideals of masculinity, wage gaps, single parents, and lastly us.
It’s never going to be easy for those of us on the outside looking in on a rape allegation to make the decision who’s telling the truth. Dealing with rape is never going to be easy. Guess what? It’s always going to suck. And there are always going to be people out there who do in fact rape and those who do in fact make false allegations to destroy people because it plays to the actualization of their happy ending. None of this will ever be ok or easy, so don’t expect it to be. However, this movement, this sea we are standing in as aware Gen X’ers and Y’s, this doesn’t have to be shittier than it is.
For every individual deemed a whore or blamed for coming forward, for everyone to be deemed guilty for being accused, every snarky, snide obnoxious comment made online, every ounce of bad mojo expressed, it’s just one more ounce of toxicity pissed into this toxic sea.
Just one more big fat fuck you to everyone simply trying to be human….or avoid it.
We tread through these metaphorical waters daily simply by being alive and we need not to see the sea level rise as we see the real sea level rise in our actual oceans. We need to find a means of cleaning up this toxic sea that all genders find themselves in. There is no one solid answer to how we do this. There is no one solid answer to how we bridge the gap between men and women and solve this ‘war.’
But there is a place to start.
Acknowledging that humanness is a difficult thing to handle, and we all handle it differently, cope with it differently and live it differently is a good first step. Looking to someone who just presented allegations to the world for the first time and not judging which side you are going take but instead thinking, ‘Golly, I hope they’re ok,’ wouldn’t be a bad idea. Looking to someone who’s just survived a false allegation, or someone who has chosen not to come forward with one or someone who doesn’t know what to do yet and not judging, not patronizing but only looking to that person and offering love, compassion and support is the best way to go. Offering compassion and attempting to provide as much understanding as possible is the healthiest thing we can do if we want a better existence, cleaner waters to tread and progress. Anything we do otherwise is simply pissing into the toxic sea we are drowning in.
How disorganization threatens failure to the resistance
By Sarah Rue
The scent of tear gas, dumpster fires and maylox filled the air once again these past few days in my troubled city and despite wishing I could say it was for a different reason this time around, sadly I cannot. For what seemed like the hundredth time in my short existence alone a white police officer shot and killed a black man and all sides erupted in violence. That sentence seems simply constructed enough, but even as I type further the internet’s social justice warriors are preparing their digital pitchforks to come my way for making such a deeply complex issue seem so simplified.
When it comes to St. Louis there genuinely are a minimum of two sides to all that has happened. Now it is important to note I am not talking about civilians versus the establishment in this article, I am talking about the organized and the disorganized sides of the resistance as this directly pertains to what I feel could lead to the failure of the resistance to oppression.
The trauma of Ferguson was something that we as a city were just beginning to heal from when our nation and the most recent efforts of the modern civil rights movement took the biggest hit they have to date. A disinterested generation of millennial’s, brought down by the cynicism of gen X and the malice of the baby boomers put none other than a cold hard racist in our white house, effectively rendering all efforts put towards equality that had taken place in the past eight years null and void.
America, a nation built upon the murder of an indigenous people, the backs of slaves, the servitude of the socio-economically subjugated, the tragedies of hundreds of nations of immigrants and the rage, piss and vinegar driven dream of manifest destiny has never been in anything other than a state of cultural turmoil since 1776. Although all of this sounds terrible, this turmoil is something of a fuel to our growth spurt and is the only reason any sense of organization to the resistance has remained.
On one simple Tuesday I fell asleep earlier than I should have around 7pm in the evening, like most of my generation I arrogantly felt that Clinton had it in the bag. I awoke to the sound of Joe Rogan on a live stream on YouTube announcing that Trump had won. In an instant, I knew all progress towards further freedoms and equality would be undone. A mere eight months later, we stand on the brink of nuclear war, with half the west coast on fire, and as if it couldn’t get any worse we now face rioting, looting and militarized police in our streets as a race war looms yet again.
The early efforts of the resistance when faced when organizing marches for women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, were nothing short of beautiful, but last night as I approached the protest in front of police headquarters I could feel the fire beneath the rage that fueled this movement starting to simmer out, a frightened scattered nature in the air and some ready to boil over. The exhaustion that comes from fighting for your dreams is a feeling only a few know, but a feeling that was clearly visible on many protestors faces.
Gazing across the crowd it was obvious that although there were many individuals holding the attention of the militarized line of cops, it was clear, no one oversaw any of this. Not a cleric, not a clergyman, not even Al Sharpton could be found except for in a picture one man was holding up with him shown. This was chaos, and as I moved deeper into the crowd nearing the line of officers the situation only deteriorated. Two young women, who couldn’t have been old enough to drink screamed at several cops,
“You wanna catch a ni**er? I’m right here, fuc**ng catch me, get empowered mother fu**er”
One protestor stood in full riot gear with an assault rifle loaded and at the ready, while a set of others took to their tubas and began trying to lighten the mood. Every emotion could be felt, but not a single cohesive direction to move forward could be gathered from the energy flowing there. There was no rhyme or reason to any of this and this itself represents what could be the downfall of the resistance and all future efforts for equality. Resistance, like the examples activists from the past set for us all requires contemplation, organization and endurance. One side of the fight is trying to organize, peacefully and vigilantly, and the other is so damn outraged they would prefer to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks and stop caring if nothing does. The later will get us nowhere and the former is our only choice if we as a city want to rise up from the ashes of this racially driven civil war that we have been besieged with for decades.
Heed my words, violence begets violence. Peace begets peace. Act accordingly, or sit down.
All images are copyrighted material of Sarah Rue. These images may not be used without the expressed consent of the owner under penalty of law.