Our theme for the month of October was selected by readers and is a format challenge: write a post completely in dialogue.

This is exhausting.

            I know.

It’s inescapable.

            You could stop reading the news.

I can’t, I have to know what’s going on.

            Will that help?

            It’s not new.

That doesn’t help.

            I know.

Why does it all come out at once?

            It’s not all at once. It’s all the time.

Sometimes it pauses.

            Sometimes we don’t talk about it. It doesn’t pause.

Will it ever?

            You know it won’t.

That doesn’t feel very … redemptive.

            Neither does letting them off scot-free because they

have a bright future ahead of them

                                                get one free pass

                                                couldn’t help themselves

                                                aren’t the same person they were thirty years ago

                                                claim they don’t remember

                                                deserved to get some action

                                                didn’t technically rape—

Yeah, I get it.

//          //

There was finally a sentence today.

            A good one?

A prison one.

            Who?

Here, you can read it.

I hate that we have to say their names.

            If we don’t identify them, we can’t protect people.

Isn’t that fucked up? We’d rather give them infamy as abusers than actual consequences for

choking

                                    raping

                                    assaulting

                                    harassing

                                    grooming

                                    devastating.

One prison sentence feels so victorious.

            It shouldn’t.

Why not?

            If survivors could rely on any semblance of justice, we’d have more than one.

It’s a fantasy, imagining them all, or even a majority.

Even a few.

Even more than one.

That’s the other reason. Prison shouldn’t be a victory.

Right, abolish prisons, I know. But every sentencing that actually favors survivors, every abuser who actually faces a consequence …

Makes “abolish prisons” a harder line. Yeah. Still.

//          //

Everyone is talking about it. All the time.

            In a good way?

Is there a good way?

            You know what I mean.

Insofar as believing survivors, celebrating consequences, sure. If there must be a “good way” to talk about assault.

I can’t stand it. The pervasiveness. It rules casual conversation, Did you hear what ——— was accused of now?

I’ve heard people share their own stories. Casually. As if it were the natural pattern of conversation.

I did hear about ———. You know, just last night, I had an incident myself.

My daughter has a few stories like that.

I’m glad people can talk about these things now.

It’s still jarring to me. Rape. Assault. Why are so many people immune to it now?

            They’re not immune. It’s easier to play it off, you know this. You’ve lived it.

Are you sure? This endless cycle,

allegation

                                    mountains of evidence

                                    denial

                                    poor excuses

disbelief

case thrown out/charges withdrawn/found not guilty/sentence reduced
/confirmed to the supreme court (twice)
,

isn’t driving us to complacency?

Complacency and immunity aren’t synonymous.

Could have fooled me.

//          //

The horror of it.

I told you to stop looking at the news.

I tried. I can’t. I keep going back. Why don’t they believe survivors? Why do they put survivors through hell and then say

they’re doing it for money

I’m not convinced

                                    they’ve got the wrong person

                                    I believe them, but …

            It’s all performative.

Is my grief performative?

Why would it be?

The grief for survivors seems so much more significant.

            And you count yourself out of that?

I don’t know.

            You’ve been harassed, assaulted—

That’s not the same. I don’t view it the same way; I’m not burdened by trauma like a real survivor.

            “Real?” That’s how we got here.

            Perhaps you’re wrong to count yourself out of trauma.

//          //

I’m tired. I’m so, so tired.

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