July 10, 2019 9:16 PM   Subscribe

"Reckoning with my Mother's Kidnapper" (Gay Mag) - This haunting and hard story about a young woman, kidnapped and assaulted, has so many raw truths going for it. From Roxane Gay's new publishing endeavor with Medium, so you know it's very good. "Pleasing is how smaller creatures slip away to safety. We flatten and wiggle, if we have to, to get away. We can’t charge or block, we must deflect instead. We must be a little slippery."
posted by amanda (8 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this, though it makes me mad to read it.

I'm ready to move to Crone Island now.
posted by corvikate at 6:13 AM on July 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was just talking with some friends about women having to carefully navigate spaces when men are being dominant. This is a good companion to that conversation.
posted by Gorgik at 6:28 AM on July 11, 2019

Sometimes if you fight, you get shot or hurt. Sometimes it gets you away. Sometimes going along saves your life, sometimes it dooms you (or you were already doomed and it didn't matter what you did).

I think of this response as akin to animals that play dead, or pretend to have a broken wing to lead a predator away from their offspring. It's enormously dangerous but when you are the preyed-upon party, you have to try something. And sometimes it works.

Or sometimes you puff yourself up big and act crazy and convince the predator that you aren't worth the trouble. Sometimes that works too.

The real question is, how did it come about that (a depressingly large chunk of) one half of humanity treats the other half as prey? Why do we accept this as inevitable? Why don't we treat it as an alarming crisis that we should be addressing?
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 AM on July 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

I've never been a victim of sexual violence but this really hit home for me. I've always powerfully resented the instinct to be pleasant in the face of male shittery - not that that always keeps me from doing it. You get worn down, young. You get told by your mother not to provoke him, because he might blow up - and she's right, he might blow up, and she's worried about your safety. Like shitty men are landmines you have to try to navigate around and if you can't, oh boy, you'd better walk softly.

And it's not just the fear of violence, either. There's a spectrum from outsized emotional reactions, like throwing a tantrum when you try to address inequality in your family life, to actual physical violence - it's all rooted in male disregard for women as equal human beings. I really don't get what is wrong with men. But it's getting a lot harder to cope as I get older.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:06 AM on July 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

Ow, this was really hard to read. I was drugged and sexually assaulted by a coworker right about this time of year, 2001. The things I felt I had to do after that, because I was young and didn't yet understand my options... I was laid off from that job just a few weeks later and that probably saved me a lot of hell. But I effing went to LUNCH with him, after that, because pleasing.
posted by wellred at 9:55 AM on July 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

One point I keep thinking about with this piece is the idea that the writer considered really praising the "pleasing" wiles of her mother but then kept drawing back, unable to commit to a piece which holds that up as a triumph. There's some shame, no matter who it happens to, when there is a loss of control. I've heard it from men, too, who are deeply encultured to think of themselves as heroes, Rambos, who will defend and avenge... to the the death if need-be! When someone is victimized, there is usually someone (if not many someones) who will put forth with a, "Well, if it happened to me, let me tell you what I'd do...." When you are in a situation where you lose control of what's happening, when you find yourself off-step, off-balance and when you are in the face of anti-social behavior, many of us pull back into prey mode. To go on the attack is to bring on the attack. But for women, especially, we are treated to a litany of ways that men casually or explicitly brutalize women. It's in every newspaper, it's on every television, it's in countless books and movies and fairytales. She survived. She drew on her instincts and she lived.

The part that breaks my heart is when she keeps things still reined in for the little boy in the house. Wow. I can really imagine doing that. A tightrope to the end.
posted by amanda at 3:09 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Um, I need to read more by this person. It's not an easy read. It's nonfiction? I assume it's real life stuff bc it's not labeled as fiction, but something about the structure of the story... idk. Anyway, thanks for posting it!
posted by Sterros at 6:44 PM on July 11, 2019

I am a good friend of the woman who is the subject of this article. She is an incredibly strong person, and as horrific as an experience as this was, she still remains warm and welcoming and put's everyone at their ease. She is also very proud of her daughter's writing.

Sterros, here's a link to another article by Mary Milstead, This Is Not a Story About a Ghost.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:19 PM on July 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

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