Heather spelled backwards


Every girl was hopeful at one time. ©2001 Marion Pennell

Every girl was hopeful at one time.
©2001 Marion Pennell

Who are these men?


“The overwhelming prevalence of acquaintance over stranger rapes and of intoxication over overt force, and the relative rarity of weapon use and physical injuries, is easily explained. Rapists know what works. They like to rape, they want to keep doing it, they want not to be caught. It is in their interest to be very sensitive to which accounts of rape are believed and which are attacked and to know which targets and methods are lowest-risk for them.

What they do is what works. They rape their drunk acquaintances because it works. They rape their drunk acquaintances because we let them.”

©2006 Marion Pennell

©2006 Marion Pennell

Who are these women?


If what happened to her had happened to me today (there were no cell phones then), I would have killed myself.

What did happen to me was bad enough to limit my life in so many ways for so many years (only now! am I released), but most of the shame was internal, and unless I told you, you would never know.

What did happen to me was bad enough considering his pornographic role models in the 1970s.  His version of sex was already based on degradation, I shudder to think what he would have expected of me today.  How it would have been presented to me as ‘normal’.  The evidence of normal? The internet.

What did happen to me was bad enough because everyone turned a blind eye to what happened within a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.  But the stoners were not dragging girls off into rooms.  Or watching their friends bang the drunk girl. There was no group sex at our group parties in the 70s.  We were doing group drugs and playing Hearts and word games and number games (‘Bizz Buzz’ with fives and sevens and changing directions).

What did happen to me was bad enough because he took advantage of my drug and alcohol use privately. But there was a code of honour amongst the stoners.  In the group, nobody EVER drugged anyone else or coerced or convinced anyone to take more than they could handle.  BECAUSE then the rest of us would be babysitting the wasted person the rest of the night and that was no fun.  The most experienced person would give the group a little lecture on a new drug: dosage, what other drugs it resembled, how long it would last, what side effects to expect, should you combine with alcohol, was there a come-down?  None of our drugs gave you blackouts – only alcohol did that.  Rohypnol, GHB and K didn’t exist.  That one brief Mandrax phase was shut down pretty fast.

What did happen to me was bad enough because of the comments I received from the few who knew.  Comments that started out sympathetic, but then turned and stung, and you wondered “does he even know how hurtful that was?”

©2006 Marion Pennell

©2006 Marion Pennell

But… if my 15 year old self had to walk the halls of school and the streets of my town and live with the thoughts in my head of the humiliation of a photo of my naked self vomiting out a window while the boy behind me screwing me (as I vomit) has his thumb up, souvenir photo!, for his friend with the camera… I know I would never be able to get away from it.

Not only would there be no escape, but there would be the realization that it would never matter what you did from that moment forward, that you would never matter.  The boys are heroes and you are a zero.  You are clearly not the happy camper in the photo, but it will never matter.  Because you are a girl, you will never matter.  You will be judged, you will have no privacy.  It will never ever go away.  If you change your name and town, some group of men might decide it would be “fun” to find out what that is and where you are, and publish it.  If you become a judge or a writer or an activist or a mother or a grandmother, someone may bring up that photo at any time, and you will not matter.  You didn’t take the photo, you didn’t consent to the photo, but it doesn’t matter. WHY DOES THIS NOT ENTER INTO THE BOY’S HEAD AT ALL?

Because you are body parts, not an actual human.  What a giggle to take you, exploit you, humiliate you, and stand back and share and laugh.  People will finger wag your irresponsibility back at YOU forever.  He will walk, he will have a life, have friends (male and female) who will not hold it against him even if they know, maybe he will marry and make ‘those’  virgin jokes about his own daughters not being allowed to date until they are 30.  Will people bring the photos back up to HIM?  Or will they show the photo to YOUR children?

I was so ashamed of my answers to the questions of why I did not stop him, although I was so young and literally did not know what to do. So afterwards (because nobody knew during), I controlled who I told.  My father – never – he died never knowing.  My mom, in her 70’s, about five years before she died.  The look on her face, knowing she had not protected me back then. “We always hated that boy.”  I had wanted to protect her from that too.

What did happen to me was bad enough to change the trajectory of my life.  But I survived.  It would be so much harder to be the girl I was then, now.  I really doubt I would survive.

©2006 Marion Pennell

©2006 Marion Pennell

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