I could feel her staring at me and wished there were something I could say to make her feel better that didn’t involve us talking about it anymore. I was struggling with conflicting mindsets: there was the need to be believed and heard, and simultaneously the need to acknowledge that my experience paled in comparison to some. (To paraphrase Sarah Nicole Prickett, other people have been “raped worse.”)
At Duncan Purdy’s rape sentencing, two of my best friends sat on either side of me and watched in horror as he flexed his butt muscles in front of us. He was handcuffed at that point, and looked like a tied horse shivering its ass to shoo a fly.
When I say “dick culture,” I mean: The inordinate pride men feel in owning and wielding their dicks. The idiotic contests they hold to see whose dick is more powerful, can shoot off harder, go farther. The way both men and women will say “he was thinking with his dick.” The spasmodic reaction of a dick-bearing man when one suggests that, given the yearly number of dick-related injuries per capita, the use of his dick should be restricted. Every man with a dick believes he is a responsible dick-owner. Dicks don’t kill people, he says. You can’t take away our dicks. Yet there are always so many “accidents!” I am no handmaiden to the nanny state, but you have to admit: a ban on dicks seems like the most pragmatic solution.
My sense of responsibility for that verdict seems sad now, bordering on narcissistic. But in retrospect it also marks the moment where I stopped apologizing for how my story might make others feel, stopped waiting on others to tell me what had happened, and instead put the onus on myself to express that what haunted me was real.
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