Tales of a Divided City: Meet Sir RapesalotDate Released: Tue, 18 February 2014 17:00 +0200
I am so tired of being afraid.
I have been tired of being afraid for longer than I have known how afraid I am. Afraid of being raped. Afraid of being murdered. Afraid of being raped and murdered. Afraid of being raped and almost murdered but surviving and having to recount the horror so that I might lend a voice to women who have experienced something similar but are also too afraid.
It's exhausting. I am exhausted.
I am enough of a coward to admit to my yearning for blissful ignorance, but I know that ignorance will never be mine to have, not because I personally know a handful of women who have been raped... but because I personally know so many more men who have raped.
I remember quite clearly the day I had to explain to a friend that he was a rapist. I was fairly young when I discovered he was a rapist, about 15.
I used to hang out with a lot of older boys from my neighbourhood because I had bought into the idea that girls were terrible company. You know, bitchy and constantly talking about boys.
Anyway, one day I was hanging out with these boys - pushy and constantly talking about girls when one of them started telling a quintessential sex story.
Being a virgin at the time I considered this research, so I listened intently. He was a lot older than me, in his early zo's and quite good looking so I knew the story was going to be amazing.
He told us how he had gone to a tavern the previous weekend where he found a girl we all knew to be openly lesbian. He said they started drinking heavily but at some point he stopped drinking and continued buying her drinks. She passed out.
He carried her to his mother's house where he had sex with her until his body started to ache, he said. She woke up in the early hours of the next morning. He said that she grabbed her clothes and ran out of the house, naked.
I asked why he would have sex with a lesbian. He said it was so that she could make an informed decision about her sexuality.
I had so many questions, but it was hard to concentrate with the amount of loud and obnoxious laughter that was swirling around with our cigarette smoke. So I left.
"You didn t have sex with her, you raped her," I kept rehearsing in my head. I avoided the subject for days and then weeks.
I saw the girl that he raped often, and every time I did I felt the urge to fall at her feet and apologise because I knew. I knew and I was too afraid to say anything.
I was afraid and he hadn't even touched me. He hadn't touched me but I was not unscathed.
I will ask that you note how I avoided the subject, but not him. I continued to hang out with the boys. They spoke about girls, often. He did not share as many stories as the others because he liked to keep his "private life private', but every so often he would share a story, and every time he did it was harrowing.
More than the egomaniacal tone of his stories, I was haunted by his ignorant excitement. He had no idea how completely terrifying he was. He was "sharing" himself he would often say, as if blessing women with his art.
I was sent to boarding school when I was 16 because my aunt was afraid of the calibre of my friends.
Before I left I said to him my rehearsed words, but slightly amended them: "you didn t have sex with them, you raped them."
I walked him through why he was a rapist from the safety of my aunt's backyard while he stood on the other side of the fence (he was not allowed on my aunt's property because, well, everyone knew what he was).
He explained to me that I had grown up in white suburbia and could thus never understand the dynamics of township living.
I defensively rebutted by telling him I understood the township just fine and also understood that he was a rapist.
"If I am such a rapist why have I not raped you?" I did not know the answer.
"Maybe it’s still coming", he then said. Maybe he was right.
A rapist tells me that my rape is still coming and I believe him, long gone are the days of "It will never happen to me".
I lived in rape culture so aggressive it rhythmically birthed immediate victims. With my fear-induced silence I helped it along its destructive path.
It is a travesty that I had to explain to Sir Rapesalot the brutality of his actions, but more disturbing, more heart-breaking is the reality that many of the young women that he raped are not clear on the fact that they were raped.
This story is not unique. There are so many just like him, waiting for the next woman who will be so very lucky to "share" them.
So many mothers telling their daughters not to go near "that" house. So many precautionary measures that nurse the rapists.
So much fear-induced exhaustion. So many attempts at starving the ravenous beasts that prey on young women rather than slaying them.
So the fear persists and the beasts live comfortably. I am so afraid that nothing will change. I am afraid that he might be right, that my turn is coming.
Tales of a Divided City This piece is one in a series of reflections on our city. The aim is to generate conversation about our place and its meanings. Pedro A. Tabensky, is the series editor and the Director of the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics, located in the Department of Philosophy, Rhodes University.
By Julie Nxadi
Picture by: Benjamin Wheelock/Salon
Source: Grocott’s Mail