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24 October 2010 @ 04:13 pm
I'm Not Grateful  
This is my answer to a meme started by Macavitykitsune. It will contain strong language and talk about nasty things that could be triggering to some and is not in the least funny. If you're here for links to cool fanfics, videos, or pictures of naked men come back tomorrow.
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Okay, I love those of you who are still with me.

I have dealt with several bouts of major depression a some long term minor episodes during my adult life. The first hit after my grandmother died when the grief failed to fade as it should and just took over my soul. I didn't get professional  help for it then but I did for the next that occurrence a few years later and I  found that me and Paxil do NOT get along and that me and the shrinks at the University Mental Health Center didn't really either. I got through the worst three days of the next really bad attack, which cost me my boyfriend and one of my closer friends, with the constant companionship of my mother who firmly insisted that I didn't have to do much but that I would eat, bathe, and get dressed each day. That was the worst so far but I'm subject to minor periods of feeling like nothing will ever be good and there's no point in caring about shit at any time.

And something that really made any of it just that much worse, that took that knife that was already buried in my heart and twisted it just a little, was to hear from someone, even if it wasn't directed at me, even if it was just advice being given on TV or to a fictional character, or in a self-help book, that I should look at how good my life was compared to someone else and be grateful that I don't have it that bad.

Not only did it never, ever, work, but now I felt like a heartless bitch on top of feeling worthless and longing for death because the fact that somewhere some woman was being beaten, raped, or starved did not make me feel better about myself. Yeah, when you write it out like that and you're sane it's pretty self evident why that bit of advice fails.

Earlier this week Macavitykitsune posted a jaw dropping kick in the stomach of a post that lays out exactly how sick this advice is and how it damages everyone to buy into it. Then Christina posted her awsome response. Now both of these amazing ladies are waiting for me to post this and just typing this overly long prologue has me shaky.

At the end of her rant Maacvitykitsune says: 

So, well, that was a rant that's been building for years. Ahem. Anyway. Please, if you are a woman who cares about these issues - who will have been subjected to some of these, even - repost this in your journal. Add what you've experienced, take away what you haven't; and talk about this, because it needs talking about.

 
So here I go. Christina posted the whole rant and made additions in red but the original post is available now (just click on Macavitykitsune's name above) so I'll just take out the bits of the list that don't apply to me. My stuff starts with the It's not okay list with a modification of Macavitykitsune's first line.

So here's something every woman hears in her life, over and over and fucking over again, until it's drilled into our heads and falls from our mouth as automatically as our eyelids blink. "I'm grateful; it could be worse." My entire fucking life, I've had this statement flung at me, been subjected to mental and emotional and sometimes physical violence until I parrot it faithfully for people to hear. And I am done being grateful for things that a reasonable human being would take, not merely for granted, with all the patronising permission of that bloody word, but for deserved, for being a thinking, feeling being.

Are there women out there who have had it worse than me? Of fucking course. I am not going to argue that for a moment. There are millions - billions - of women out there who have experienced horrors that I can only extrapolate my reactions to, from what little financial, mental, physical and sexual harassment I have had happen to me.

This should not, and will no longer, make me grateful to the men around me, and the society I live in, that these things have not happened to me. These are not things that should happen to anyone, and asking me to be grateful for them is a slap in the face to all the women who are working and have worked to ensure that it does not. It is a slap in the face to the best humanity can be, for saying that the default of every rational being on this planet is to rape and pillage and murder and spiritually crush each other in a bloody frenzy, all their lives. It is a slap in the face to the very concepts of equality and freedom and justice, by making them inaccessible privileges instead of inalienable rights. Being grateful for the fact that I've been spared these things is implicitly accepting that I probably deserved them. Thanking society for its gracious mercy for not subjecting me to horrors most men never have to contemplate in their lives, for sparing my worthless self the abuse I so clearly deserve for being female. And I am done perpetuating the existence of this outrageous and disgusting concept, even by a second.
I am not grateful that I have never been raped.
I am not grateful that I have never been abused by a partner.
I am not grateful that I have never been sexually abused.
I am not grateful that I have never been assaulted by groups.
I am not grateful that I have never been forced to marry against my will.
I am not grateful that I have never been forced to carry a foetus to term, or abort a foetus I wanted to keep.
I am not grateful that I have never been forcibly impregnated or sterilised.
I am not grateful that I have never been subjected to corrective rape/assault for my sexuality.
I am not grateful that I have never been threatened with having children taken away from me if I did not comply with the community's religious requirements.
I am not grateful that I have never been made to defer to men simply for being men.
I am not grateful that I have never been stripped of my rights as a human being in favour of according those rights to a man.
I am not grateful that I have never been forced into any profession - or out of one.
I am not grateful that I have never been forbidden from seeking employment.
I am not grateful that I have never been denied education.
I am not grateful that I have never been denied food, shelter, water, clothing.
I am not grateful that I have never been barred from appropriate and timely medical care on legal or religious grounds.
I am not grateful that I have never been denied freedom of movement.
I am not grateful that I have never been religiously coerced to abandon any of my basic morals.
I am not grateful that I have never been denied access to the outside world.

None of these things that have not happened to me make any of the things that have happened to me one bit less wrong, less twisted, less damaging. They are far less severe, less dehumanising than the things I listed above, but - and this is an important but - the fact that that is supposed to make these things okay strikes me as remarkably like an abuser saying "What's the matter, baby? I could have broken your arm instead of twisting it, you know." So here, have the flip side. These things are not all right, will not ever be all right, and I refuse to ever think of them as appropriate again. Not all of these are still happening - most aren't, in fact - but the fact remains that they have happened.

It is not all right that I have been beaten, slapped, pinched, bitten and hit in the head with hardcover books in school.
It is not all right that I was also spit on, called vulgar names, and had my things stolen or destroyed WHILE both myself and my tormentors were usually near one or more adults who were responsible for us
It is not all right that some of those adults actively participated in the bullying I endured while some just refused to take action to stop it.
It is not all right that I have been forbidden to see a relative who I was close to because of a feud between our mothers. I see her occasionally now that we're adults but the friendship we have isn't the same.
It is not all right that my school system considered calling all the 5th grade girls into a class where we watched a film strip on menstruation and were given starter packs of pads as adequate sex education and then did little to help those girls a few years later as far too many of them ended up pregnant and dropping out of high school.
It is not all right that an available spot in the then new gifted program went to the white doctor's son even though I had an IQ of 135 and scored in the 95th percentile for reading.
It is not all right that the school refused to give my mother my test scores when she asked and she had to risk her job several years later and pull the file when she was substituting there in order to find out what they were.
it is not all right that my sixth grade teacher, one of those who actively bullied me, refused to get me tested for a learning disability when I consistently failed spelling tests while getting those 95th percentile scores in reading comprehension. I was obviously just not doing the homework in order to spite her.
It's not right that I ended up diagnosing myself while taking college Developmental Psych classes after years of thinking that it was my fault somehow and years of internalized feelings of stupidity had helped take away my academic confidence.
It is not all right that, even after explaining to my boyfriend that I have occasional bouts of depression and that they usually didn't seem to have a real trigger, it was just screwed up brain chemistry, that he dumped me when I got depressed after a week of accusing me of being angry at him over something and just sulking and refusing to tell him what.
It is not all right that a long time "friend" cut me out of her life because I wasn't cooperating in her attempts to cheer me up even though I'd forgiven her for actively going after a guy that she knew I was in love with a few years earlier.
It is not all right that my father's alcoholism meant that almost all holidays after I was 12 or 13 ended with him getting drunk and getting into a screaming fight with my mother and I so that I still dread holidays even though he's been dead for several years.
It is not all right that one Christmas he won a TV and when he got home he told me I could have it to replace the black and white set in my room only to then declare that it was going into their room and he was just testing me to see if I only loved him when he gave me stuff. The fact that I was disappointed was "proof" that I didn't love him.
it is not all right that he once staged a suicide attempt in another test that might have really ended in his death if I hadn't walked in on him just as he finished taking the pills so we got him to the hospital in time to pump most of them out before they dissolved.
It is not all right that my father believed my cousin when he swore he was innocent of attempting to rape his step daughter even after my mother and I intercepted the court paperwork and read his confession.
It is not all right that my father let us know plainly that we were being unreasonable bitches to not allow my cousin to sleep in our spare room when the court ordered that he couldn't live at home while the step daughter was there after we read the papers.
It is not all right that years later my father thought I was being a heartless bitch for refusing to go to Puerto Rico with him to see the family once I found out that that cousin would be staying at the same small house.
It is not all right that I spent over a year with nearly daily migraines and joint pain without any doctor diagnosing the cause and only got relief when I figured out that I had a food sensitivity all on my own and eliminated the cause.
It is not all right that I once spent several weeks with clear symptoms of poisoning (from some pesticide that spilled) without any doctor diagnosing the cause and increasing hints that the burning and tingling in my hands that was so bad I couldn't sleep without taking something was all in my head.
It is not all right that doctors as a tribe tend to discount the things that women tell them even the women doctors.
It is not all right that once you have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder they are even less likely to listen to you.
it is not all right that there are probably other things that have happened that are not all right but in order to get by I locked them down away from my daily thoughts so I could survive and now I can't pry them loose. It took several days to get this far.
It is not all right that I still almost didn't list some of them because I found myself thinking "Well, that's not all that bad in the grand scheme of things" before catching myself. The programing runs deep
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(Deleted comment)
ranuelranuel on October 25th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
Re: Bless you
I thought of a couple of things to add but I'm gonna let it stand.
rockerfaeryrockerfaery on October 25th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
*hugs*

I'm going to post my list too.

(PS- You're one of the few members of our family I can say "I love you" to and know I really mean it. And now I feel horrible for never bothering to do so.)
ranuelranuel on October 25th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
*hugs*

I love you too and you made me all misty eyed.