This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking to the crowd as a special guest at Case Western Reserve University’s production of “The Vagina Monologues.” The Monologues are, as the name suggests, a series of monologues or speeches about various aspects of being female and thus owning a vagina – the happy and fun aspects, and the sad and painful aspects. Delivered on campuses across the country, the Monologues raise awareness about violence against women and the proceeds from ticket sales go to a local organization serving survivors – in this case, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
What a fantastic event, and the perfect opportunity for me to share my energy and enthusiasm about being a survivor. But not everyone agreed with my decision to speak there. Not everyone finds events like these to be appropriate.
And that’s exactly the problem.
Violence and sex are the cornerstone of our entertainment industry, but we can’t talk about it in-person, or listen to others give speeches about it? We can give presentations to women about healthy relationships, safe sex, and reducing their risk of being raped, but we can’t listen to them talk about their actual experiences with healthy relationships, safe sex, and rape?
No wonder survivors have a hard time coming forward! No wonder we’re afraid to talk to kids or adults about sexual assault and abuse!
The man who repeatedly raped me as a child didn’t sugar-coat anything. He used me as he wished and told me it was because I was a bad kid. Millions of other survivors out there have similar stories to tell. There’s a reason why I speak at events like “The Vagina Monologues” that are too risqué for the pious among us. There’s a reason why I speak to kids in jail who would just as soon spit in my face. There’s a reason why I tell the brutal truth when I speak. The reason is this: rapists don’t give a damn about the comfort of their victims, so I refuse to make the truth comfortable for rapists or anyone else. If we’re going to stop the rape of children, then we have to tell the truth about it at all times, in all places.
Isn’t it time we did away with all the pleasantries? Isn’t it time we left our safe little offices and stepped away from our pie charts and podiums for a while? We aren’t going to save children from sexual abuse by being proper. We’re going to save them by being real.