Robert Musil said the starry sky is a social phenomenon, an edifice of shared fantasy. We subject ourselves to its boundaries by creating it.
Confession: I am afraid of white men. Due to an event in my life, my heart races when I find myself alone on a sidewalk with a white man. I alternate between defensiveness, submission, and silence when in the presence of white men. These feelings do not exist around men of color. The grippingness of these feelings--their physicality and power--makes it very easy for me say, simply, these feelings do not exist when I am around men of color.
What's the point?
Fear is often the causal prompt for rational behavior. You should back away from a rattlesnake. But reaction to threat can also be irrational if the goal is to prove mastery rather than protect self. Our culture is replete with threat responses that focus on managing appearance rather than responding rationally to actual threat.
A good friend of mine is afraid of being alone with black men. She traces it to the experience of being raped by a black man in her apartment. The rapist, a serial offender, was eventually caught and convicted by a racially-diverse jury; my friend served as a witness. He was a stranger, not a friend, not an acquaintance. He was a black stranger who raped her violently and left physical evidence on her body. Race, ease of evidence, and repeat offense made it likelier that he would be found guilty.
No part of this story is fair. Not fair that a black serial rapist is more likely to get convicted than a white serial rapist. Not fair that serial rapists of any color continue to unleash their hatred on female bodies.
My friend knows her fear is statistically insignificant and yet the salience of this fear is rooted in her physical experience of being raped--her memories of the rape, itself, and the way her mind-body chemicals processed the physical violation.
When we walk down the street together, we alternate between fearing every man and fearing not a single one of them.
Native American women are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault compared to the statistics of all other races. * 79% of victims of anti-LGBTQ hate crime murders are people of color, with 82% being trans women of color in 2009. * About 9 in 10 Native/American Indian victims of rape or sexual assault were estimated to have had assailants who were of a different race. * In a study of Indian and Pakistani women, Indian and Pakistani women born in the US or who had immigrated before adolescence were more likely to experience physical violence, sexual assault, and stalking compared to those born outside of US or immigrated post-adolescence. * According to a study, Filipina women who were born in the US or immigrated before adolescence were more likely to experience physical and sexual violence (but not stalking) compared to Filipina women born outside the US or immigrated as adults. * Approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18. * According to a 2014 study, about 22% of Black women reported being raped and 41% experienced other forms of sexual violence. * While 80% of rapes are reported by white women, women of color are more likely to be assaulted than white women.
The story of a rape is often appropriated by the court and returned to the survivor in legal language. I'm not sure there is justice in a form that leaves out the neverendingness of terror on a street in a world filled with men and their guns and their bombs and their guns and their bombs...
Anxiety is an unusual emotion in that it has no object. Fear has an object. Many times, our emotion management conversations replace natural fear with anxiety which should be controlled. So we miss the point and the raised pulse.
Given vague amorphous feelings—after an abortion, for example—the responses of others define our reactions and frame the space for the appropriate response of what we should feel. When we don’t know how to feel, we are more likely to seek a script. Therefore, what we do feel. Guilt. Misery. Blame. The social construction.
Darwin thought of emotions as pre-actions, or symbols for deeds. Emotional work therefore requires us to manage bodily prep for a deed. Alienation from one’s emotions is therefore maladaptive and dangerous, fueling deep disconnect and making individual labile to manipulation.
Alina to character: "Who did you sell out for?" Find a cause.
The act of asserting the feeling coincides with the feeling itself. We are controlling our envy.
The evangelical idea of sadness as something one consents to feel.
I cannot tell you who to fear.
I will not tell you that the color of a man's skin makes him more or less guilty of rape.
I can swear on my blood that rape makes a man guilty of rape regardless of who he rapes--whether she is rich, poor, citizened, black, brown, white, or "unfuckable," (some defenses against rape charges are rooted in the assessment of how rape-worthy a woman might be).
Protecting rapists because they share our skin color or socioeconomic status make us complicit in the perpetuation of future rapes. At some point, we are responsible for the crimes we erase in order to salvage the heroes we think we need.
But there is no hero to save you in the alley. There is only the truth. And the woman who sells her sisters downstream for a man will find the water tastes a little like poison, a little like fear on her daughter's tongue.