EAT, SLEEP, RAPE, REPEAT. 

After a particularly harrowing night last week I haven’t been able to quite shake the blues after witnessing the fucked up aggressive behavior toward women and the ignorant attitudes (the most alarming was from a fellow dancer) that continue to enable this current trend of violence against women and rape culture as “not ok but to be expected” in certain contexts, or the old “She was wearing this,” “She does that for a living,” or “She looks like a girl who would….” .

The excuses I hear from men behaving badly over and over again about the conniving sorcery of the vagina as it renders men helpless in a flash of gash, robbing them of their basic sense of human kindness. The definition of ‘violence’ has become one so extreme and obvious as to obliterate the subtleties and manipulations most often deployed in order to effectively be violent….and not get caught. Basically the general feeling is that if you don’t get punched in the face, or visibly bruised, or raped, you haven’t really been a victim of violence. It hasn’t been that bad. Could’ve been worse.

I’m still processing why the other night has effected me so deeply. Nothing that fucked up happened to me in particular but I was there. In the thick of it. The extreme nature of the people involved in the events has burnt something into me. Rolling hills of fear, discomfort, sadness, adrenalin, disgust, anger, tension, violation, humiliation, embarrassment, confusion, disbelief. I keep seeing the faces and hands…fingers, hearing the roars, profanities and cries, feeling over and over again the sensation of being numb in myself but hurting on behalf of everyone else and beyond. Maybe those girls have forgotten it by now. I haven’t. I want to be able to sweep it to the side, watch my sadness for human kind float away like particles of dust. I don’t actively watch the news anymore. I haven’t since 2008. But even still, ensconced in this little girl’s bubble of a world that I have constructed for myself, the stories of brutal rape and senseless victim blaming in India, of some fat Asian’s stupid rape culture t-shirt at Coachella, the girl in Melbourne being stabbed to death in the light of early evening, have all made it through my strawberry flavoured hubba bubba barrier.

Photo sniped from thump.com and please note that @JemayelK is the guy who posted the picture, not the dickhead wearing the shirt.  

No one was violently raped the other night. Not as such. Not with a dick anyway. I don’t know. Does a finger shoved up a vagina or asshole without consent count? Does a giant Maori man fucked off his face on drugs licking a girl’s vagina while she is facing the other way, or the same giant biting another girl hard on the shoulder, or his Sydney Lebanese friend digging both hands into her ass so hard that I could see the dints of his nails and fingertips, count as violence? I’m inclined to say yes but for some reason, the reactions of people who are told this story or who were actually there, seem to indicate no. This is what makes my heart hurt days later. This is why my eyes still sting with the threat of tears. This is why my throat constricts and my breathing pauses as I actively try NOT TO FEEL IT. I am trying not to feel the way I SHOULD feel when I was in the same room over a period when all of these things were happening. Some things I was aware of, some not. I was doing my best to manage my guy, to distract him from the fingering, the arse smacking and grabbing, ear licking, that was going on around us so that he wouldn’t expect the same. His octopus hands were doing their best to wander, his energy within our dynamic was threatening to fracture, to stray from me and become a part of the pack. My eyes were on him. So I did nothing. I said nothing.

My sister is a science writer. She says we are in a unique position as strippers to have insight into many elements of primal behaviour that have stood their ground through centuries of evolution. Now she has me reading scientific papers on aggressive fucked up chimpanzee behaviour and the hypothesis that these correlate with that of humans due to both biological AND cultural similarities. I’m learning that sexual coercion and collective violence are common in both. That it’s not just an imagined phenomena that men are more likely to fuck your shit up, and that women go for men who will fuck their shit up. And that one of the biggest differences between Great Apes and homosapiens is that the male homosapiens SHOULD be advanced enough to over ride their biological compulsions to be total fucking assholes, and that the females SHOULD be advanced enough to know that they have other choices than to take it like a bitch. And it’s up here on my high horse, where the air is brisk and fresh, and everything seems so clearly laid out before my eyes, that I have to marvel at myself. It was only 6 months ago that I allowed myself to be violated. I did not defend myself. I did not speak out. My brain over rid my instinct and I paid that milk eyed toad faced predator and left without a word of complaint. When I was 14 years old I was in the room as my best friend was molested. It was subtle, it wasn’t obviously violent. Even so, I thought I knew something was wrong. I did nothing. I said nothing. I did nothing because all my life I have been trained not to speak up. I was taught as a child not to question people in a position of authority or care. As adults women are told not to be hysterical, not to over react, not to be emotional. To handle things without ‘causing’ drama. It’s always on us to fix our reactions, to tolerate the behaviour of others and adjust ourselves to cope. It’s wrong. This needs to change.

After a night like that all I want is to be held. To have a man I care for show me what it’s supposed to be like. Contact. Intimacy. Care. Tenderness. The right way to be naked in front of someone. The right way to be touched and admired. To be desired for more than my instagrammable arse and my perky boobs. The right way to have someone inside me. To be really seen, and valued, instead of just looked at and chucked a hundred dollar bill. To be wanted for more than just 10 minutes of possession.  To have someone see me as I really am as their eyes move over me, trace their fingertips from my forehead to my toes, up the back of my legs all the way up again to cradle the crown of my head. Just to remind me that that kind of thing really exists.

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Dreams Come True!

Last night I was on the club Catwalk. Front centre pole, otherwise referred to as “Cellulite City”. It makes girls who have no cellulite, look like they do, and girls who do have cellulite, look like they need to fast. Forever. I’m in the latter category. But whatevs. I work my angles and find the shadows to keep me safe. Can’t remember if I was working my angles last night though. I’d had 3 tequilas, a hideous glass of cheap Australian sparkling and 2 vodkas in the 1.5 hours I spent with my regular customer. Effectively rendered myself entirely ineffective. SMASHED. He came and went so I was left to populate cellulite city with my thighs and ass alone. We did ok, not quite a metropolis. The music was good. Better than usual and I vaguely remember moving really slowly. Mostly so that I wouldn’t fall over or hit my forehead on the pole. I have a bad track record with stationary objects.

I looked up and saw a little Indian man coming toward the stage, his shiny bald head catching the light as he emerged out of the darkness. I beamed a big, happy, drunk smile at him. He beamed a happy little smile back.

“Hello, how are you going?” I said.

“I’m good. How are you?” He replied.

“I’m great! What’s your name?” I said.

“Blah Blah. What’s your name?” He replied.

Standard mind blowing opening conversation.

“Billie. Would you like a dance?” I asked.

He held out a little wad of $5 and $10 notes and gave them a little waggle up and down. Not in an offensive carrot dangling way, just in a wad of money waggling way.

“No, no. I don’t want you to dance. I want you to lie down.”

I’ve never been asked to do this on stage before so I made an effort. I lay down on the stage with my back arched and my legs elongated toward the ceiling, my ankles crossed lightly, making beautiful iridescent shapes with my body by catching the light just so.

“Open your dress.” He instructed.

It’s not a dress. It’s a playsuit but I didn’t think it was the appropriate time to correct him on the specifics of my garment.  I let it slide and pulled aside the two pieces of black fabric that drape over my breasts so they were exposed and peaking toward the ceiling. He stood there smiling at me from the shadows and then extended his arms, reaching his hands forward into the light. His wad of cash was sitting atop of his left palm, and with his right hand, he began to flick each note over the top of me. Slowly and deliberately at first, then with the reckless abandon of a small Indian man who is living his African American hip hop hunny DREAM, while also making a dream come true for an extremely drunk  stripper who had only moments ago been schlepping her way up and down and around a pole in cellulite city. Maybe the lights aren’t as bad as I thought…. No. They really are.

Fast forward 25 minutes to the smoking room where I was dressed and ready to go home. Lipstick wiped off. Fag in hand, slurring my way through a rubbish conversation with one of the other girls. A dancer walked in and asked to have a drag of my cigarette because her customer had just tried to stick his finger up her butt hole. Turned out it was my little Indian friend with the shiny head, ticking yet another one of his dreams off the list.

Black Dress 2_2

It Aint Over Til…

It still doesn’t feel quite over yet somehow. I’ve been surprised and disappointed at how long it’s taking for the palm of that event to open, for the fingers to unfurl. They just seem to keep unraveling, appearing at moments from nowhere. Most of the time I feel fine but it doesn’t take much for me to way more stressed out than any reason will warrant. I’m trying to be positive and appreciate all the things at home that I missed so terribly and to find the comfort I imagined would be here, waiting to help all the awful bits go away. Every now and then I feel the weight and speed of panic smothering my face, a condensed ball in my chest that wants to lose it’s shit and blow it’s way out of there. I’ve come home, and seen my friends, cuddled my animals, surrounded myself with flowers, started going for big walks again. But my room feels cavernous, not the cocoon I was expecting. It doesn’t hold me close. Home is strange. Maybe I just need to buy more flowers.

It’s been interesting to observe myself interacting with people who have read that post. It’s good to acknowledge it and to say thank you to the ones who reached their arms out to me from across the sea. Strong arms, direct ones, the ones that show you they’re there and they’re ready to try and feel what you need from them, and give you whatever they can. I try to be natural about it. Like it’s just another topic of conversation. Which it pretty much is with people who aren’t too close. It’s done and dusted in a couple of sentences. Strangely enough it’s with them that it feels the easiest. But it’s hard to see some people flinch, some of the people I really care about. It’s hard to notice those changes in posture, manner, the flicker of something across the face, and not see in those things a reflection of the residual disgust and avoidance I still hold in myself. The thing that is hardest to shake off since it happened, is the flickering film in my head that’s been playing out. Old scraps of video events from my lifetime of times when I should have asserted myself but I didn’t, and now I think maybe I’m not the strong person I thought I was.

Maybe it is hard for people to talk about this stuff. Maybe I’m just so used to sitting around in the club, the unlicensed but professional confessional, having people spill the beans on their darkest secrets. Being told tales saturated with the most fucked up betrayals, perversions, weaknesses, and crimes against law and life. I don’t think twice to be open about my life in conversation and I don’t flinch at much. Us girls don’t really have censored topics around the dinner table, we are who we are and it is what it is. Is it possible that for a normal person, rolling in the normal world, it’s as hard to bear the burden of the victim as the burden of the perpetrator? Because you’re not really meant to talk too much about it?

It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Even a few days after it all went down, I’d expected I’d already be over it. This stuff happens all the time. I already knew that. I’ve got a lifetime worth of witnessing and hearing tales of fucked up bad behaviour underneath the broad umbrella of the sexual violation genre. I got off lightly while he got off nicely on a minor offence. It’s been hit after hit for the women I’ve known throughout my life. A couple of days after it happened, I spoke to my sister and we literally did an inventory of our parent’s friends from when we were kids, “Who was the neighbour? Was it Owen? Oh….Peter! Really? I thought it must be Owen cause he did that hand up the t-shirt thing to me a couple of times.” We cackled at how morbidly  ridiculous it was that all these years later, these small time rookie violations came out of the woodwork of our childhood. I feel like I’ve always known about things like this. Why did it feel so bad at my age? Surely I should be stronger than that? Was I being dramatic? Indulging a victim mentality? Because really, a lot of the things I just wrote feel so cliche, they apply more to victims of rape and ongoing abuse. I should be over it by now after that little dalliance.

Such a dirty word these days, ‘victim.’ Flung as an insult like wet shit in a rodeo pen, or resisted and battled off like an intruder trying to wedge their way in the door. Nobody wants to be one, and when they are, no one wants to admit it. Such a defeat. Such an admission of powerlessness. Take the power back girl! Reach for the stars! You are your own worst enemy! That action, those words, have no meaning unless YOU give them  meaning! Nobody can bring you down unless YOU let them! Smiley face, smiley face, heart.

Go fuck yourself inspirational slogan.

Not everyone’s life is as good as their instagram or facebook timeline would indicate. Not everyone’s day was like a walk down a pastel path into a pastel pine forest with white fake real handwriting scrawled across the vista saying something whimsical and easy with some hashtags underneath #blessed #lovethelifeyoulive #smugcunt (credit for that last hashtag to my adopted parents in NYC, circa October 2014, Spotted Pig and shoestring fries). Sometimes people hurt you and it isn’t a defeat to let yourself feel it. To ride the waves until they subside. Low self confidence, self doubt, stress, feeling unattractive and gross, heavy head, heavy heart. But whatever the case, I do really have to get over it. And stop thinking so much. Do little things that make me super happy – filling my room with flowers, seeing my friends and walking my dog. Should probably hold back on the excessive eating though. Maybe lingering on this whole thing has just been the fat little piggy inside me taking advantage of the perfect excuse to eat more derishuss sugary treats…. The fat lady singing the signal to end it all, could actually end up being me.

I had so many people write to me after that post. So many people at different stages of dealing with their own version of the same story. Some are years upon years later, so when I read over these things, I don’t feel alone. And I don’t feel so much of a victim with shit on my face from the rodeo pen. So thank you to everyone who did. It meant a lot to have you tell me that what I wrote meant a lot.

Your post quickly brought back a memory of

The whole time, I thought it was me.  That I was creating this idea in my mind…”

In that split second… He sped over the curb and drove to the car park entrance right where I was standing.

I know the feelings you’re feeling well.”

I kept asking myself if it had been a legit interview, because I couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I didn’t know whether to be upset with it or not.

To be honest, I couldn’t even defend myself if people decided to say that I asked for it to happen to me – even though I know it was wrong.”

…a long time ago now, but the same emotions i thought I had locked down were brought on by reading your post.

I reacted in much the same way. I even gave the guy a kiss on the cheek.”

I haven’t read your blog as I fear it’ll be hard for be as I have overcome so many sexually abusive and other sorts of abuse and I worry that reading it will revert me back to it. I just want to say…”

” The women I know who haven’t been sexually assaulted or taken advantage of in some way are such a small, small minority.”

I didn’t exercise any of that power, and then it was like I never had it.

You described so many of my thoughts to a tee. I am taking steps to deal my shit better in preparation for the arrival of our baby girl…”

I am sending you love and strength and positive vibes from afar…in a way that the sisterhood should stand beside one another.”

Love you. That is all x”

Take as long as you want to feel what you want to feel.                                                    As long as it takes before you’re standing tall, beating your chest                                      as you howl & prance                                                                                                      until even the monsters under your bed                                                                            will bow down to you before they begin to dance