Well, tomorrow’s the day. The episode I appear in for the two-part series The Ricki Lake Show produced on Women Who Fight Back will be aired. And all of us shall see what 10 lbs of stage makeup on my face looks like in HD. Did I mention the theatrical hair? I remember curling irons, lots of spray and digging out no less than 12 pins and clips from my mane when it was all over. Sort of like prom hair, but without the baby’s breath. I just… I don’t like my face in TV form. I never have. And it embarrasses me that my friends and colleagues will see me that way. Every time. I don’t care what nice things they say to me after. I tell myself they care about me and will erase it from their memories.
Since this is my third time sitting for a national TV show to talk about my experience, I have to say, I am surprised at my calm. I mean, I almost forgot to set the DVR tonight. For the previous two shows I appeared in, I was totally stressed out as the air dates neared. I chalk that up to the fact actors had been hired to play me and act out my assault. Just imagining what they took artistic license with gave me plenty of “Holy shit, what did I do?” moments. But this, this I know all too well. I remember mentally grading myself a solid “B” after the taping ended. In just three segments, I had too much material to work through, and Ricki kept me on a breakneck pace such that I simply couldn’t get my words out fast enough.
If you watch tomorrow (and I’ll never know if you did or not), you’ll probably notice how much I turn to the audience while I’m speaking. It was important to me to have eye contact with the women listening to me. I don’t recall looking at Ricki nearly as much. If all my segments are left unedited, I’ll be glad for it because I definitely pounded some points home that I know women rarely hear. I told them that many of us were raised to believe rape is about confusion over consent. That somehow, if a woman doesn’t say the word “No!” and clearly convey a lack of consent, then they are somehow responsible for being violated. I told the audience that notion is antiquated and total B.S. I told them rapists rape because they want to rape, not because you failed at conveying a lack of consent. I told them how I shouted ‘No!” at Marco and physically repelled him and it deterred him none. And no one had ever taught me how to answer “Now what?” when that failed me.
When Ricki asked me if I wanted to share a learning or word of caution to the audience, I elected to decline. I told her I wasn’t going to tell women one more thing they need to avoid doing, I wasn’t going to pile on to the bullshit checklist we’ve given them about how to prevent being raped because that checklist is a fucking useless mental crutch.
We tell women not to park next to vans. Great. So, they park next to a sedan in a well-lit lot as they head on in to a blind date or second or third date with the guy who winds up raping them later that night. We tell women not to walk alone, so, they let a trusted male friend walk them home and wind up being assaulted by them. We tell them a million things and the only people we should be telling anything to is the rapist. I don’t want to tell women one more thing. They are not raping. The men are.
I’ll write a follow-up tomorrow after I have seen the show. And I’ll give some updates on some fun things I’ve done the past few months. I’ve met some great people and taken some trips, and I feel blessed for all of it. The journey is never dull.