Reflections from inside Rape Culture

A few weeks ago I started, and never quite finished, a post of a few of the more amusing moments I’ve had in therapy.   Those ridiculous things that I deal with that are so obviously answered, yet depressed people can’t even form into questions.  But then on my drive home today I was musing about a few more of these and I remembered a less-than-funny bit of my therapy in high school.

Throughout high school I was in theater.  I was a kickass techie, propmaster, and all around killer crew kid.  Up until I got a job and had to cut back, I spent pretty much all of my after school hours in tech, or waiting around for tech to start.

Some days we would wait around the school for an hour or more waiting for things to start up.  Or there would be nothing for us to do, so we would just hang around outside the actual theater.  Of course, there were all kinds of other kids doing this as well, or waiting for other things, rides, sports. whatever.  All things were good.

Except this one kid…

During my freshman year in high school, we would hang around, waiting for the backstage area to open, waiting to be told what to do, waiting for rides, etc.  There was this one kid who wasn’t in theater or anything.  I never had any idea what he was always doing around after school got out, but he gave me the creeps.  He had some distant acquaintanceship with one of my friends, so he would hang around us.  But, ugh, he gave me the creeps.  He was always standing too close.  Make too personal of jokes at me.  Asking other people weird things about me.  Offering me and no one else rides home.  To the point that he was following me around the school.  If I left to talk to a teacher or use the computer lab away from my friends, he would be right around the corner.  When I told him to stop or leave me alone, he would laugh.  If a friend told him to back off, he would laugh.  It got to the point that I didn’t want to leave the green room or stage area.  I knew the director always had a fit if non-tech or non-actors were back there, so I always made up a reason to be back there or took a friend if I had another errand to run.

I was 15.  I had no idea what else to do at this point.  I was in therapy, so I told my therapist what was going on.  I told him that this was making me not want to go to tech crew.  Well, rather than figuring out what action to take and what to do, my therapist decides to tell me “Oh he’s just interested and doesn’t know how to show it.”  He tried to convince me I was being insecure because of depression.  That this was just a kid with a crush.  When I continued to tell him that it made me REALLY FREAKED OUT and HIDE IN THE GREENROOM, he advised me “Well if you’re not interested, just don’t pay attention.  He’ll eventually move on.”

really

Well, let’s just talk about how much better that all made me feel.  I should apparently be flattered that this guy is following me around and being super inappropriate in all ways.  But it’s only because he has a crush.  I shouldn’t be scared or creeped out at all.  I’m just insecure.  Great.

ok

I feel 100% positive I’m not the only person who has gone through something like this and gotten this type of advice.  And I wish I could even say something about how this therapist was a horrible, sexist, asshole.  But, truth is, he was wonderful in many ways.  He helped me through that first episode of depression and get my head back on track.  The horrible thing is that this is such a natural response to the issue I brought forward for so many people.  What should I have expected?  What could he have said?  Shit, I would have been fine with “I’m sorry, that sucks and it sucks that people like that exist.”  Just to know that this wasn’t something I should expect or something that is okay for people to have to deal with or something that is somehow a positive because it means I’m attractive.

eyebrow

This is just one day-to-day example of rape culture.  Luckily in my case, nothing horrible happened.  I made it through the show season by hiding and using the buddy system.  The school year ended and I actually never saw the kid again.  Never asked what happened and never wanted to know.  It was nice, after that, to be able to stay after school and walk around freely, not worrying if someone was following me.  Not feeling uncomfortable, hiding, or pulling another friend away from their business so I could pee.

I’m sure someone out there can tell me I was/am overreacting or making something out of nothing.  But here is the truth:  I was freaked out and uncomfortable.  I felt unsafe.  The adult I trusted enough to say something to diminished and even normalized it.  It’s not normal.  It shouldn’t be normal to feel like that.

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