Rapes of Passage - a voice for the raped women
RAPES OF PASSAGE
When my father was told I was to be a girl he raped me in my mother's womb. Incestuous rape runs through my family like curly hair and blue eyes, and I'm not the first to suffer his unwanted attentions. Grandma says that rape of one kind or another is inevitable for a woman in any family, probably because of her multiple relationships to Grandpa. He's not only her father but her brother, too. And the father of her daughter, my mother. Which makes him not only my mother's uncle and grandfather; but my father and great-grandfather; ergo my mother is my half-sister. Usually I call him Dad, and sometimes, Uncle. Only once did I call him Grandpa to his face, and learned the hard way not to remind him of his age. A humorless man, Dad smiles only after a couple of whiskies when he'll slap his thigh and insist we call him Omnipop. None of the women in the family find that amusing. Dad doesn't understand why.
After my initiation in the womb I managed to remain chaste for almost three years. But one hot summer day, lured by the monotonous yet irresistible tinkle of the ice cream truck, I crawled through a hole in the fence and toddling to the curb held up my dime for a banilla comb.
The good-humored ice cream man smiled kindly at me, staring at my pink frilly dress and matching panties. But the smile froze when I wouldn't touch his for a free cone. Slamming the hatch he leapt down and throwing me in the van took his revenge coldly and efficiently, raping me twice while the Italian ices melted and a crowd of anxious children yelled for Dove bars. As his heavy hand crushed my mouth blocking my screams, his whispers reprimanded me for wearing sexy dresses and tempting him to acts no mortal man could resist in the face of such destructive wiles as the ones I wielded.
At five I was raped by the kindergarten teacher because I had failed in calculus. He wrote on the blackboard for all to see that I was stubborn, pig-headed and needed breaking. It was like a wild horse he rode me. The subsequent caning was both punishment for my unwilling participation and camouflage for any redness and swelling.
He needn't have worried. My family turns blind eyes, ignoring events that require explanation. Questioning nothing, they accept everything, believe all news reports, all Presidential statements, current statistics, the caloric contents of canned foods, and the Assumption of the Virgin; however, they have some doubts that America really put men on the moon.
My very existence in times of crisis threatens the status quo, requiring instant subjugation, and the local priest rose to the occasion when Nixon resigned. And when roses failed to bloom, aphids outnumbering thorns on the bushes, the gardener took his turn. A puppy was compensation when the dogcatcher raped me by mistake - in the darkness he mistook me for Mrs. Wilson's poodle. After the Gulf War, when George Bush Sr neglected to assassinate Saddam Hussein, Grandpa incited the graduating class at The Citadel to rape and general mayhem.
At sixteen, following my speech as class valedictorian, I was gang-raped under the podium by the high school football team still sporting caps and gowns. I learned that there are some males with whom one should not compete, or if one does, one should always lose. Intelligence is not found attractive in a woman of child-bearing age.
On my first job I was raped by my employer during unpaid overtime, in lieu of a raise, he said; and it was called nothing more than office perks when the mailroom boy tried for seconds. Three days later, the cops who answered my screams in the park, raped me because, as one of them pointed out, I was already warmed up and obviously asking for it with my dress hiked up like that, and with hair all disheveled and mouth swollen from a hearty punch, why I was quite the sexy little bitch.
"Ya know, kid," said the sergeant at the station," ya look a lot like Julia Roberts, and that's a compliment, kid, I wouldn't mind pushing in my regards there."
One afternoon in the Emergency Room, this time taken there as a victim of a hit-and-run, a radiologist raped me while the X-rays hummed. When I asked why he was good enough to tell me the truth. In the past I had been answered with a fist in the mouth.
"General principles, young lady. You were there. You know, an uncle of mine was with Hillary and Tenzing on the Great Climb, yes, like Mount Everest you were there." Shocked by my tears, he seemed anxious to make things right.
"Nothing personal in it, my girl. It can happen to anyone. By the way, take my business card, one never knows does one..."
At nineteen, guilt-ridden and mystified by the sheer numbers of rapes in my life, I removed myself from the usual spheres of action by hiding in a nunnery. It was said that I was luring men to rape by the mere fact of my presence. But four rapes later I gave up trying to hide, having discovered that for women there is no safe place on this planet. No safety at home, at school, in the office, in church, in the woods, in prison, at the Arctic circle, at the equator, in the White House and, from what I've read in the news, I won't be safe even after I'm dead and in the morgue, necrophilia being on the rise these days. From the cradle to the grave rapists lie in wait.
By now, you may have formed a misconception - that I hate men. Well, you're wrong. I like men. And have loved two. Some of the most important moments in my life have been shared with men. It was a man who introduced me to Beethoven, Mozart and Pergolesi, and a man who, on Ellsmere Island, showed me my first wolf. I like male optimism, their willingness to dare. Loren Eisley, Gaston Bachelard, Lawrence Durrell and Patrick Leigh Fermor sharpened my perceptions to the poetics of existence. I waited in line for three hours to meet Yehudi Menuhin. And as for Willem Dafoe and Ed Harris - well, I lust on!
For years, having been taught nothing else in school, all my favorite writers were men, until a male friend led me to Woolf, Duras, H.D., Griffin, Sontag, Kristeva, Sarraute, Hazzard, Atwood, Arendt, Yourcenar, de Beauvoir, Colette, Christine de Pisan, Langer, Gallant, Flanner, Sarton and Christa Wolf. I'm a romantic at heart, still misty eyed at the love scenes between Hepburn and Tracy, and Bogie and Bacall. I'd like to get married, but who would have me?
My rapists are all considered decent family men. They are someone's son, father or brother. Someone, somewhere, loves them. They are, for the most part, tax payers, wage earners, pillars of communities, leaders of the pack, cream of the crop; some of them even Ivy League alumni - in short, figures of authority (and I haven't even hinted at the politicians and religious leaders in my life). These are all men I had been trained to look up to and obey. Men who faithfully observe Mother's Day, Veteran's Day, Founder's Day and the Stars and Stripes Forever, with tears in their eyes and hand over heart. Men who love their mothers (oh how they love their mothers), fighting to the death if Mama is maligned; and by extension, love their wives, calling them Mama too, as soon as they have the first child, loudly extolling the Purity of Womanhood and Motherhood, strong protective arms around the little woman, willing to give her the world as long as she is prepared to stay home and accept it. And many of them can be seen taking those same little women to church every Sunday, making it alright with God and why shouldn't it be all right with God, look at the thousands of paedophile priests who celebrate the Mass and act as His intermediaries while destroying children's lives in the service of their lust?
I do hope talk of rape doesn't offend you. I suppose I should have warned you from the start that these are not nice stories, yet you will find no erotica here. Deliberately cloaked in a veil of surrealism so there is nothing to titillate those seeking stimulation, they show the real in all its harshness. I was taught, as I'm sure you were, that a discreet silence about rape is mandatory if one is to succeed as a woman, and if it had not been for Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary, a compilation of archaic words given to me by my mother on my twentieth birthday, I, too, would have kept silent.
Until that day when I turned to the a's and found the word arpagee and its definition - a raped woman - I had been not only silent but without words to formulate my identity as a raped woman. Naming myself reified my existence. If you can't name it (whatever the it may be), then it doesn't exist.
I am the Arpagee.
Arpagee. A woman who is raped. I heard it not as an elegy, but as a promise of freedom for a prisoner of silence. I was not to be invisible anymore. I existed. It is difficult to convey the intensity of my joy. Until that moment the word rape had a vague amorphous quality to it. Boesky and Milliken's rape of the stock market inseparable from the rape of Europa or the Sabine women.
Enough! I am lost in this maze of definitions, trapped within metaphors.
I, the Arpagee, am the plundered and destroyed, the outrageously assaulted, the violated. I am the discarded stalks and skins of the fruit, my life blood extracted; the filter used by some men to separate their bestial self from the angelic. Divided in myself as object, I have become an empty sign. I am Brassica compestris napus, knowing rape winter and summer, fall and spring. My daughters, and yours, are the source of rape oil, our lives like leaves, used as fodder, mulched, blown away, we fall we hasten we hurry on a precipitous course. We walk the tightrape of men's desire, teetering between awe and degradation, our most essential and mysterious process named the curse, and the holy portal to life- the vagina, become synonymous with filth, with weakness, renamed in the greatest variety of derogatory terms for any genital organ. We walk the tightrope of male violence. I swing from the noose, the rope, the rape. I am the captured butterfly of male libido, staked, pinned. Observed. Collected. I am the refuse after my life has been extracted. My rape lubricates men's dreams: rape oil. My bastard children are the rapeseed. My life a thin wine, rape wine, pressed from the last dregs of sanity.
I had been lost within the distinctions, but now I was found - The Arpagee.
The consensus is that we, the raped, are guilty. We are the sacrificed. But to what higher truth? Our bodies, our blood, become the Communion for what Mass? Men rape to reaffirm the power of the Father, to master the power of the unseen, to hold power over that which gives life. An attempt to control a mystery. A participation by domination. Cannibals eat the enemy to ingest the power of the enemy. Men rape to divest a mystery of its secret, rape because they know instinctively there is no autonomy and, manipulated by self-created hierarchies, they are trapped; and rape because they hate the other men who control them. To rape is to conquer, to own by de facto agreement. For a man, to rape is to piss on another man's property.
But to be raped is to suffer a death, and yet live in the knowledge of that death; a knowing that cannot end until the body dies - long after the tortured soul has flown. To be raped is to live forever in a war zone. No cease-fire here.
When a rape takes place, I am there. The Arpagee.
I have many forms, many shapes. I am your mother, your daughter, your wife, your sister, your aunt, your niece, your cousin, your grandmother, even your pre-adolescent grandson. I am the girl unprepared for her boyfriend's violent attack. I am the small child mutilated for life. I am the woman who solved shame with suicide, who killed her female children rather than live in fear for their safety. There is nowhere to hide. There is no law that can implement our protection without denying us freedom. I have been a raped wife, beaten then killed to erase her husband's shame at the soiling of his property - my body. I am the adolescent girl from a small town, the one who never marries, whose gang-rape renders me useless, filthy, an object of town curiosity for a lifetime. Just call me Rape cake.
I'd been raped before I even had hair or teeth, so I know it doesn't matter how I look, or how old I am, or what I wear. It's a matter of general principles. Like Mount Everest, I am here. My rapes are legion.
But I must speak quickly for a rape is about to take place, and as the Arpagee I must be there. Every few seconds a rape takes place somewhere in the world, and I am there. Knowing the ins and outs, I'm beginning finally to understand why women are raped.
We are raped because we are guilty. Guilty of having been raped of identity. Disenfranchised while still in the womb, demeaned, debased, without voice or place, objects of scorn, disgust, desire, fear, lust and death. Made not in a god's image men say, but from superfluous bone. But innately, we are magical; we bleed and a thousand civilizations imitate the menses with male circumcision. Within our hermetic birthing circles (the origin of fraternities) we know that war is menstruation envy. Biologically powerful and numinous in our lunar cycles, we have to be controlled, subjugated by force, cultural values manipulated. Considered defiled, damaged, valueless, used goods, we arouse intense desire for possession.
One summer, mountain climbing in a remote part of the Los Padres National Forest in southern California, I had tramped for miles, the high desert overgrown with sweet sage, dead trees jumbled, rotting on the ground, untouched, unseen for decades. Finally, I reached a high rocky point. The air was so clear I could see at least a hundred miles. Beneath me, small towns dotted the plains fifty miles away. The great curve of the horizon cradled me. I sat for an hour watching the formation of clouds in mid air. Nearby, bear tracks and pack rat forts. The high yip yipping of coyotes. My heart thumped loudly in the silence after the kill.
Still a few hundred feet from the peak, the mountain loomed above me. High on the rock wall were indistinct marks and, hoping they were ancient Indian symbols, I climbed higher.
Hours later, exhausted, sweat dripping into my eyes, I pulled myself up on a rocky ledge. There was nothing above me but sky, clouds, and what I discovered later was the last of the condors who circled trying to decide whether I was food yet. I lay there, eyes shut, waiting for my breath to steady. Then, tickled by a small piece of scrub roughly brushing my ear, I opened my eyes.
Only inches from my face, incised into the rock was a word. Beneath it to the left was a name.
I convulsed with laughter.
Frank Peterson, the man or boy, sweating his brains out just as I had in a five hour climb, had reached the pinnacle, the peak, the apex, had crouched where I now lay, overcome by the vastness beneath him; the great mystery of creation spread like a carpet at his feet. And I imagined the stirrings inside him. The need to hold the moment. To assert one's presence when dwarfed by the eternal. His brain unconsciously striving to capture magnificence, seeking a word holding all power, all mystery. A word both destinacious and divine, bringing all he surveyed under his dominion. A word that would sum up his life; his beginnings and endings, that would reveal that he too was a man who knew. As his conscious mind failed in the search, anger rose, and with it disdain. But without knowing it he reached the mystery.
There was only one word and he found it.
My Freudian therapist accused me of a Messiah complex when I became the voice of the Arpagee and said Yes, I want to change the world. Fondling my neuroses and cursing Jung for a traitor, he cried softly while trying unsuccessfully to unzip.
"I dream of penises that are longer, shapelier, wider, stronger than my own. I want a penis that women will bow down before. I have dreams of the lingam in the yoni. I am afraid of public bathrooms, the sizing up of the competition at the urinal appalls me. Those bastards with the big ones know it and taunt me with full exposure. The pissing competitions in my childhood were a nightmare, a locker room nothing less than Dante's Inferno. Only Mother understood. She saved me from suicide by suggesting I become a psychiatrist. In my heart of hearts I know the truth. Yes, penis envy is a classic projection, a male response to the horror of the female genitals." The horror of the female genitals?
Whom did he think he was kidding? I will never forget my first close examination of the male paraphernalia.
One Indian summer evening when I was two, little Henry Pope, the fireman's son, pulled me into the lighted telephone booth on the corner, intending to satisfy his curiosity. Resisting, I demanded he show me his first. Moments later I ran screaming from the kiosk convinced his intestines were falling out. Now that's horror! My mother said it was weeks before I could be convinced to take my hand out from inside my bloomers where, with palm cupped over my vulva, I had attempted to hold in my viscera.
Wait. Listen. Do you hear it?
The indrawn anger of an acned adolescent. His shoes are expensive but his feet stink. He was fired today for petty theft, and because he didn't make the football team and because his car is not his own but belongs to his older sister and because his mother took an outside job and put him in nursery school when he was two and because he suspects that his penis is not potent and just because ...... he is about to rape.
It will be at 10:13 pm at the corner of Mulberry and Main or 45th and 6th Ave, behind a greyredblueblackcarhousebushgatewalltree, according to witnesses who will see what they expect to see and ignore as much as they can.
I must go. I must be there. As the Holy Arpagee, I am the sacrifice.
He wastes no time, is already on me. His breath smells, his nails scratch my arms, he tears my clothes. Biting and clawing he attempts to force himself into me. Kneading my breasts, he swears, slobbers. A knife scrapes my neck.
But his penis is small and flaccid and in an attempt to dispel the memory of a girlfriend's pitying smile at his sexual failures, he tries to excite himself with words.
"Talk to me, bitch," he snarls. "Say something."
"Like, help, rape?" I enquire in a conversational tone. I will give him nothing erotic.
"Talk dirty," he begs.
"Mudpies, La Brea Tarpits. Geevor Tin Mine. Ring around the collar."
"You know you want it, bitch. Go on, say it. Say you want this big cock."
"Look, buster, you threw this rape. If you can't come it's not my fault."
"Cunt, talk dirty."
"Dustballs, dogshit, detritus, ocean debris."
"Fight me, goddammit."
"I'm too bored to fight. I've had better rapes from a tampon."
"You're making me lose it."
Hypnotized by the rhythm of his pumping I dream of the Mothers and escape him. My head, drawn inward like a turtle, descends lower, deeper, into my chest cavity. He attempts to rape a headless woman but does not notice. Why should he? Men have been living with headless women since the Bronze Age.
I sink lower yet, resorbing myself deeper into the inner labrynth.
The Red Chamber - a cave of cut ruby mirrors and scarlet velvet tapestries. Walls lined with books bound in red morrocco, the air, warm with round rosy sculptural smells. Bowls of figs, fleshy pomegranates, golden apples. Saffron flames in the fireplace throw shadows on a round red bed strewn with pink satin pillows.
Throwing myself on the scarlet silk coverlet, I pick up the crimson telephone receiver and call one of my five hundred daughters, still safe in their ovarian dream.
"Mama, is it time yet?"
"Yes, my love."
I sleep for maybe a minute or, perhaps, a year, my unborn daughter in my arms. Finally, she wakes me, eager to live. Leading the way, she enters the dark, silken tunnel and begins her descent, swimming effortlessly. For me it is not so easy. Walls crush my head. I cry out, struggle in the narrow damp lane. Her presence ahead of me gives me the courage to continue.
Suddenly, danger - for she turns back.
"Mama. The passage is blocked. There's something in the way. A monster!"
"What does it look like," I answer, having my suspicions.
" A giant ghost, Mama, but it has only one eye!"
"Must we go back, Mama?"
Every inch of my being desired to nestle deep in the crimson, and continue to dream my life. But I could no longer deprive my daughter of her chance to be. The battle for future freedom, for life, must be fought.
"We can never go back."
Miraculously, swords arc in our hands. We are Odyssea. We are Valkyrie. We are the Amazon women. We are Boudicca of the Iceni. We are Macha. The miracle of Excalibur is ours. Battling our way to freedom, we vanquish a monster. Much blood, some of it our own, but we clear a path. We, too, are Heroes.
At last the light. In the distance faint screams have become bird song. A man runs, a blur on the horizon. He can never rape again. Perhaps in dreams, if he dares sleep.
I am lying cold, disheveled on the damp earth. One shoe is missing. For some odd reason I think of the radiologist. What was it he said? Don't take it personally. As the Arpagee I no longer take it personally.
I have been successfully depersonalized. I am all women and none. Each rape has confirmed me, has sanctified me, has created me separate. I am beyond the body. Beyond identity. I have become an archetype and, having abdicated personhood, am empty, filled with the varying attributes that others need to see.
I am Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons, raped after death by Achilles. I am the Sabine women, I am Isis, I am Leda, Europa, Aphrodite, Persephone, and Salmacis the nymph become half of Hermaphrodite yet denied identity. I am Helen of Sparta, later of Troy raped as a child by the hero Theseus. I am Hecuba, Pelopeia, Hesione, Lucrece, Cassandra and Hippolyta. I am Rhea Silvia, the vestal virgin, whose rapist impregnated me with Romulus and Remus. I am the suicides Arsippe and Nicaea raped while in service to Artemis. I am Halia, the wife of Poseidon, who drowned myself in the sea after being raped by my own six sons. I am Boudicca's daughters, and the nameless Levitian queen given to be gang-raped by the mob. I am Lucretia, Gaia, Dinah and the Shiloh virgins. I am Artemesia Gentileschi, Sarah Woodcock, Briseis, Madame LeBlanc the Huguenot, the women of Culloden Moor, the pregnant woman of Strathglass, the blind girl of Rona, Dame X of Compeigne, the raped women of Krasny, the raped girls of Warsaw and of Kosovo and the Sudan, the raped girls of the House of Dolls - Ursula Koster, Anneliese Antz, Ilse Antz, Hannelore Von Cmuda, and Margaret Promeist. I am Violette Leduc. I am Virginia Woolf, Una Burns, the raped five year old Kristine Paulsen, raped again at ten; the incested Cassandra Wilson who preferred to die of cancer rather than continue the inchoate pain of her child rape.
I am the raped women of Poznan, the 1198 raped women of Stuttgart, the 1000 raped women in the first night at Nanking, the 19,000 raped women of the next 29 days I am the 400,000 women and children raped in nine months at Bangladesh, and I am the untold millions of raped and burned Indian child brides, the raped fifteen year old with her arms hacked off, discarded by the side of a California highway, the raped blind teenager in Queens, NY, the raped Lauren Cox who bravely spoke out. I am the one out of every four raped female college students. I am the raped women of Harlem thrown from rooftops; I am the twelve generations of raped and tortured African-American women who know that all the slaves have not yet been freed.
In South Africa in 1999 a rape of a woman or child took place every 26 seconds; the increase in child rape is blamed on the fear of AIDS because 'virgins of sixteen are hard to find so men are turning to babies under ten'. During 2005 -2006 in South Africa 55,113 rapes were reported, a mere fraction of the actual number.
In 1990, 683,000 American women and girls reported their rapes to the National Victim Center, which means that a minimum of 1,897 women and girls were raped daily in the United States or 79 rapes took place every hour in what Americans consider to be the most advanced and sophisticated nation in the world. Sixty one percent of the raped were under 18. Three out of ten had not reached their 11th birthday. And 80% of the rape victims knew their rapist. This document can now not be found on the Web. We know that women and children from two months of age to ninety-four years old are being raped each day, and these statistics don't address the unreported rapes of grandmothers, mothers, civil service workers, editors, wives, farmers, artists, cleaners, writers, athletes, teachers, prostitutes, school girls, infant girls and incested babies. And the FBI states that 10 times the number of reported rapes go unreported, and even more on male rape. Who are these boys and young men? These women; these babies? Raped; nameless.
How do I give them back to you? How do I give them back to themselves? How do I give myself back to myself? We, who are nameless, the invisible raped.
To you, the rapists, and to you the observers we are Nothing.
Nought. Zero. 0.
0 - the gaping bleeding vaginas.
0 - the adolescent girl at My Lai, whose vagina, too small for the American G.I. raping her, was hacked open with his knife for his satisfaction.
0 - the mouths open in eternal screams.
0 - the hundreds of thousands of raped women at Bangladesh.
The Rape of Nanking is no metaphor.
Women and children pillaged raped and robbed of their most precious possession - robbed of their very self.
In the 1950's in Kenya the Mau Mau placed snakes in the vaginas of Kikuyu girls driving them mad, because female lives do not matter. In 1997 in Uganda, Sudan trained teenage killer rapists to cut off lips for trophies. In 2007 men rape babies as a magical cure for Aids. Raped with broom handle and baseball bat, poker and penis, speculum and knife - we have no value. We are zero.
0 - for the screaming mouth into eternity. The 0 that speaks your name. The 0 that gives birth to the world.
0 - for the ripped, bleeding vagina of a three year old, organs displaced, intestines and lungs ruptured; discarded like a condom. Can you see the image? Can I force you to feel something?
We are one in pain. One in destitution. One in non-existence.
In the news - our names withheld for protection. But what protection is this that negates our trauma by conferring invisibility? And so, protected, we remain nameless. A legion of the unnamed. And as the Unnamed we forfeit our place in history, in memory. Unnamed we evaporate, dissolved in silence on a page of ellipses. We must proudly name ourselves.
The shame is not ours.
Why is there no Congressional Medal of Honor for the Survivors of Rape? Why is there no George Cross? No Victoria Cross? Why is there no Grave of the Unknown Arpagee? There have been more women raped on this earth than there have been men killed in wars. Where burns the Eternal Flame for our millions? We too are Heroes.
To be raped and to go on living with the constant torture of the horror of rape, and to survive on the battlefield of our everyday life, is just as heroic as it is to face gunfire in Iraq or Viet Nam. To be raped and survive, emotionally and psychologically damaged, yet continue to walk to work, receive a home delivery of pizza, ride a bus, hire a taxi with a male driver, allow an electricity man in to read the meter, go camping in the forest, jog or swim alone, sketch in the wilderness, attend university or take night classes, enjoy spring blooms in Hyde Park or Central Park, love and nurture a family, make love to a man, and still maintain a trust that all is basically good - these are the acts of a Hero. We live in a war zone, vulnerable as any other Prisoners of War, and equally as traumatized.
Men, and women by silent consent, have made heroes out of rapists. From Achilles to Manson, Moosebrugger to Zeus, we analyse, mythologize, define, honor, excuse, compose epics to, sympathize with, listen to, talk of, fantasize about, admire, venerate, defend, respect, envy and deify the rapist. And in doing so, we create a veritable poetics of heroic rape. But the raped woman is forgotten. And no one speaks her name. There is no personhood under the hands of the rapist. We become nothing in society. We can no longer say "I" and be heard. No one is listening.
I am the woman raped on a pool-table in a Boston bar while an audience applauded.
I am fourteen-year old Zipporah Yagodyev, raped, burned under a New York bridge.
I am Patti Bowden raped for a second time when Justice was negated by Power.
I am the woman raped in the Boston area in 2007 and forced by my rapist to perform fellatio upon my son.
I am Kristie Montgomery. I am Molly LaRue raped, killed on the Appalachian Trail; Katie Koestner, Jean Murray, Marion McLeod, Susan Estrich, who spoke out at Wellesley, I am the Central Park Jogger, I am Roseanne Arnold.
I am the fifty thousand Muslim women and children of the Serbian rape camps victims of the penis legislated as a weapon of war; I am the raped women of Afghanistan, Chechnya, Cambodia, China, Japan, Rwanda, Liberia, Iceland, Israel, Namibia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Ethiopia, Somalia, Niger, Indonesia. I am the thousands of unnamed raped Australian aboriginals.....all countries are my home.
I am the raped French schoolgirls of the German occupation, the raped Roma and Jewish women and girls of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Bergen-Belsen, Breitenau, Buchenwald, Dachau, Jasenovac and the other forty four Nazi concentration camps.
I am the raped and mutilated women of the First Nations of North America - the Oglala Sioux, the Cree, the Apache, the Arapaho, the Lakota, the Cherokee, the Assiniboin, the Blood, the Iriquois - whose breasts and labia were cut off and fashioned into tobacco pouches and coin purses.
I am the raped women and children of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania. I am the raped Palestinian women of the Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Israel. The raped and immolated Indian child brides, the raped and circumcised Ethiopian and Somali women and children. The genitally mutilated and raped women of Egypt and Africa.
I am the raped comfort women, usually adolescent, of Japan, dishonoured and homeless, abandoned by our families, but the shame is not ours.
I am the thousands of Ugandan women raped by teenage boys who cut out our lips, ears and labia as trophies.
I am the Haitian wife who haemorrhaged to death during gang rape by soldiers.
I am the 100,000 tortured women and children trafficked for sex into the USA each year, and the unknown millions in Eastern Europe. I am the hundreds of thousands of raped foster-children whose fear of being institutionalized keeps us silent. I am the thousands of women drugged and "date raped" because, even though hoping for love, we said no to sex. I am the millions of raped wives whose bodies, in our husband's minds, are no longer our own.
I am the beautiful Frances Farmer, Hollywood movie actor, confined to a mental asylum because, determined to be my own person, I spoke out - raped and prostituted by orderlies for years while encased in a strait jacket. Eventually, broken and lobotomized, I was released.
I am the thousands of mentally ill or developmentally handicapped or quadraplegic girls and women confined to institutions, raped and prostituted by medics, orderlies and cleaners against our will.
I am the lovely fourteen year old Iraqui girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza, from Mahmudiyah in Iraq, raped, shot, then burned by American soldiers in 2006 before they murdered my parents and seven year old sister.
I am the raped Banaz Mahmod, tortured, strangled in London in 2006 by my father and uncle and their friend for falling in love with a man not chosen by them. They, and others like them, rape in the belief that this renders a woman unfit for Paradise. But if men who rape and murder go to Paradise why would any woman wish to enter?
I am the ninety-four year old widow from Chichester raped while visiting my husband's grave and told by the rapist that my age made no difference.
I am the six year old girl raped, killed, stuffed in an ice-chest on the Hudson River Parkway.
I am the raped two month old infant disemboweled, murdered by her father's penis.
I am the raped Baby Tshepang, known as Princess Moonbeam, nine months old, raped and sodomized as a virgin cure for HIV/Aids in 2001 by my mother's ex-boyfriend while his common-law wife watched. I have had twelve reconstructive operations to rebuild my bladder, my bowel, my intestines, my rectum, my vagina, my perineum and my tiny uterus. They have closed the gaping hole in my lower abdomen, and I still cling to life -
Are you listening yet?