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I wasn’t preparing to survive another attack, but rather to execute one.
June 28, 2014 9:08 AM   Subscribe

(tw: rape) Kathleen Hale reflects on her assault, the subsequent trial, and the relationship between predators and prey.
posted by Juliet Banana (28 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Read this a few days ago. It is an incredibly, incredibly brutal read. But it is also so fucking good.

This was a punch in the gut:
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.”)
posted by Phire at 9:13 AM on June 28


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.
She's got an amazing voice. Following her bio and seeing that she's written a novel, I found the site for it and it's one of the most charming and interesting websites for a book I've ever seen. I'm going to the bookstore today to try to find it.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 9:40 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


It is easy to find the counter-example for the often assumed assumption that there is a total or a partial ordering defined on phenomenological properties and experiences. There is also not a well-defined metric space on them. This might as well be a good counter-example.
posted by curuinor at 9:41 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Melinda told me in the wings that although he pretended to know who I was, he kept confusing me with Jillian; she had the feeling that he’d done this sort of thing so many times he could not even recall specific incidents.

Words fail.

The two essays she links in the piece ("Your Friends and Rapists: How dick culture permits the crime" and On Not Being a Victim") are also amazing and wrenching. From the first:

But no matter how many Americans are murdered every year, and no matter how many times we say we “could just kill that guy,” we don’t talk of “murder culture.” We talk of “gun culture.” Accordingly, when we talk about rape, we should rage not against “rape culture” but against “dick culture.”

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.

posted by Dip Flash at 9:43 AM on June 28 [7 favorites]


The very last sentence in the piece - the words of a juror in a scanned-in court transcript - were incredibly powerful to me.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:58 AM on June 28 [31 favorites]


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.
Doesn't this seem to come dangerously close to the evo-psych, "rape is just biologically programmed into us poor menfolk," pov? I mean, if you really don't believe that it is possible to be a "responsible dick-owner" then I guess every rapist who ever said "my dick made me do it" actually has a valid excuse.
posted by yoink at 10:07 AM on June 28


Did you read the actual article? Because that's not the point she's making at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:08 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


(That sounded snappier than I intended. It's just not where she was going with it, nor how that excerpt fits within the piece, though I can see how it could be taken out of context in that way and how I should have either given more context or used a different quote.)
posted by Dip Flash at 10:12 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


The very last sentence in the piece - the words of a juror in a scanned-in court transcript - were incredibly powerful to me.

Same, I came in here to point this out as well.

Can anyone say no to this?
posted by misskaz at 10:30 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


I think the point isn't that men can't be responsible dick owners, but that the current culture (dick culture) assumes that they can't, and reinforces the idea that the dick is, and should be, very powerful. It trains men (and women) to appreciate ... well, all kinds of dickish stuff.

The point of "dick control" would be to teach virtue, not to constrain a naturally-occurring but undesirable behavior.

I kinda like it -- sorry if my reading is too Aristotelian.
posted by allthinky at 10:36 AM on June 28


That was incredibly powerful. "Can anyone say no to this?" indeed.
posted by jaguar at 10:43 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


sorry if my reading is too Aristotelian

There's hardly such thing.
posted by michaelh at 10:46 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


That's an incredible read. Well worth following through to the very end.
posted by Catblack at 11:03 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I want to readTigger Maskkir.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:06 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


The way that changing the narrative structure of her statement, wearing clothes that drew attention to her petite figure, and adding in some tears seemed to convince the jury the second time around was intriguing. As a survivor, her emotionless reaction makes a lot of sense to me, and might to other people who are aware of the effects of sexual assault and trauma. But to those on the jury, recounting the story should be an emotional event no matter how many times you've had the stupid event(s) play back in your head already.

This was very well-written. I am glad she got justice. It was uplifting for me to read that justice is still out there among so many accounts of the opposite being true.
posted by sevenofspades at 12:33 PM on June 28 [7 favorites]


After the first trial resulted in a hung jury she writes:
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.
This is extremely good. The way the FPP was framed, I was concerned about reading it. I think it's a wonderful piece. She does not give a lot of details of the actual assault. She talks a lot more about her mindset in the years that followed, how she recovered, how she processed it all and very effectively, how she turned herself from a victim to a person bent on justice by studying predators in the animal kingdom and working on developing a more "predatory" mindset of her own in order to face this man in court. Not once but twice.

If you have been assaulted and are concerned about the "trigger warning," I think this piece may surprise you, in a really wonderful way. It is empowering. It is beautifully written. It is the kind of thing we need a great deal more of in the world.
posted by Michele in California at 12:45 PM on June 28 [14 favorites]


That is an amazing, harrowing, brilliant piece.

Everything about her radiates talent and accomplishment; even her handwriting is the most enviable I have ever seen.
posted by jamjam at 2:14 PM on June 28


It's depressing how startled I was to read a story like this in which the rapist was convicted and punished. Not just "Oh cool, this is one of those cases where the prosecutor beat the odds" but "Holy fuck! That happens?"
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:10 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: a combination of genuinely sensitive people, semi-empathetic mentally ill people, basic masochists, and those who would, for whatever reason, patiently listen to me digress at length [...]
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:26 PM on June 28 [10 favorites]


I was part of the jury pool for a rape/molestation trial.

It was gutwrenching to see how many of us got excused for...reasons. Can anyone say no, indeed.


Thanks for posting this. For one thing, it really shows the confusion one can have when one is not sure just how to classify the Bad Thing that just happened. The thing that is so much easier to classify if it happened to someone else.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:25 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


The thing that is so much easier to classify if it happened to someone else.

there are no words to describe how true that is.
posted by KathrynT at 9:54 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


I asked forgiveness, realizing only afterward that doing so was tantamount to apologizing for screaming after somebody had hit me.

This is how I feel about the way my parents seem to resent the way I acted when I was 18 and depressed and getting out of an emotionally manipulative and sexually coercive relationship and the way the one person I confided that in at the time resented me for relying on him. I've spent so much time apologizing for screaming and I don't think that at the time anyone even heard.
posted by NoraReed at 5:09 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Michele in California: " If you have been assaulted and are concerned about the "trigger warning," I think this piece may surprise you, in a really wonderful way. It is empowering. It is beautifully written. It is the kind of thing we need a great deal more of in the world."

I believe you and everyone else who has such praise for this piece, but just as a datapoint, I read as far as the description of the assault and I really wish I hadn't. :(
posted by daisyk at 11:18 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


daisyk, thank you for posting.

It's a tough topic, more so for some people than others. I was very pleasantly surprised by the piece and I am glad I read it but I also did have some trouble processing it later in the day. Nothing I regret but nothing to be overly cavalier about either.
posted by Michele in California at 1:37 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I would agree that the piece is empowering, but the descriptions of the assault are indeed fairly graphic and her writing talent makes them pretty vivid. I've had visions of the assault popping into my head fairly often since reading it two days ago.
posted by jaguar at 7:09 PM on June 29


The emotional impact of the article probably reflects the work she put into making an effective presentation in court; going "from prey to predator". Her first testimony was hampered by her desire to hold back, to avoid making her audience (i.e., the jurors) uncomfortable. She went to the opposite extreme the second time she testified, and she says that the defense attorney actually felt that the emotional impact of her testimony was the first thing that had to be addressed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:12 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


The "massage" part of the assault lasted 45 minutes. This was followed by him "bathing" her. So I am guessing the assault lasted over an hour. Given the length of the event, I felt she did a good job of conveying what happened while, to a significant degree, glossing over the details. There is not an hour's worth of detail there.

That isn't to dismiss anyone's very real discomfort with it. But I have spoken to some rape victims and gotten a lot of the gory details about rapes that lasted as much as four hours long and involved things like intent to kill, strangling, and coming back later to wait for her with a gun. So, yes, (to borrow words from the article) I think there are "worse" rapes out there and I think the author did a really good job of conveying the details of the assault that were salient to both her feelings of confusion about exactly what happened and the legal details as to why it still qualified as "rape" under the law in her state in spite of a lack of penile penetration without belaboring the details.

I think she did a good job of including the minimum necessary to make the story make sense without just going on endlessly about it. If this had been, say, an early journal entry of hers, I can well imagine the details of the assault going on and on and on endlessly in a much more disturbing fashion than what was actually written here and that was one of my concerns when I went to read it. So that's why I felt (and still feel) that she didn't go into detail unnecessarily. The details she did give are necessary in order to understand the story. Leaving them out makes other important points incomprehensible.

It's a tough topic. But I was really impressed with how well she handled the telling of the assault. There is no nice way to tell someone you were raped. There is no nice way to convey the salient details of the assault. But it certainly could have been handled in a much more disturbing fashion. So I appreciate the deft with which that part of it was handled. And I apologize if that misled anyone.
posted by Michele in California at 10:53 AM on June 30


Hey I just want to pipe back up and say that I bought her book, No One Else Can Have You, and just finished it. It was great. If you like her writing style, but would rather read a darkish humorish murder mystery, I highly recommend it. I don't even read YA, I find the prose a bit too, uh, simple, but Kathleen Hale looks to be an up and coming talent.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 12:52 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


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