Thank all the stars in the heavens.

Today… I don’t have to drive. Not at all. I don’t have to get in the car. Tomorrow the kids have martial arts and we could walk over to prevent driving and then I’d get three whole days free of the car in a row. I think that sounds brilliant.

EC’s out of town writing class was cancelled because the instructor feels like she is failing to get the impact she wants to get so she’s just quitting. Well… that’s one way to run a school. Ok then. But on the upside that means I no longer have to drive to Santa Clara on Tuesdays. That’s a big forking relief. That means my mandatory out of town driving is more restricted now and I’m thrilled. That’s a good four or five days a month of freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom.

I was reading an article yesterday about some rich famous person talking about parenting. They said that they don’t do gifts at Christmas at all because they don’t want their kids to be spoiled or entitled.

Dude, your kids globe trot with two nannies.

It is interesting to me where other people draw their lines. I think that everyone has their own strengths, resources, and deficits. Parents have different things to offer. Some of the best parents I’ve ever known were very poor and they struggled to meet material needs but they were absolute rock stars at providing for emotional needs. I know a lot of children of rich parents who have never managed to feel loved even though all of their material needs were handled with aplomb.

I think about sexual assault so much. Apparently so do my children. What is it? What does it mean? There are all these gradations and nuances. Sometimes it is hard for me when I talk about incest and someone says, “Oh me too!” and it turns out that one time their parent touched their genital area through a blanket and that made them uncomfortable.

I feel like an absolute piece of shit for playing the Oppression Olympics. I’m not really. I’m trying to understand why that event in an otherwise safe and well provided for childhood causes so much damage to some people when people like me are expected to shrug off much more invasive experiences while having no other needs met. It isn’t that I think that I have suffered more than everyone so only I get to be thought of as a victim… I haven’t suffered more than everyone and I’m far from the only person to have been victimized in this life… In many ways I had a sheltered existence and I know that.

I am capable of recognizing that my life involved a lot of privilege and advantages. I was blessed and lucky even as I was traumatized.

People can only know what they know. People can only know food insecurity or food security. Stable housing or unstable housing. You experience what you experience and you set your internal understanding of the world based on what you’ve seen. Part of what makes this so weird to me is that I’ve been inside so many different sets of expectations… I don’t know what I should get. I know that other people get different stuff than me for better and for worse.

I think of the little children who are raped to death. I didn’t have it so bad. I think of children who are pimped out to many many many adults. I sought out sex but it wasn’t forced on me like that. It’s different.

I can no more understand the physical and emotional impact of more severe abuse than my children can conceptualize my life. That’s weird.

But I feel like somehow there has to be a conversation. There need to be more words invented. Coercive rape. Date rape. Sexual assault. These words don’t begin to convey the full array of unwanted sexual activity that happens. And where is the room for jostling in a crowd or a wrestling accident?!

I’m not saying that sexual assault can’t happen in a crowd. I hear some scary things about trains in Japan.

But where is the line between a little kid who probably doesn’t have well developed impulse control thwapping another kid on the tush and someone harming another person for their sexual gratification?

I tell my children that if they are confused about this topic they are just like all the other grown ups in the world because all of us are flailing and struggling with this topic at this point. We have huge batches of folks coming forward to talk about sexual assault and what it means and there is a large scale societal effort to change the current level of tolerance for large scale sexual abuse.

But what does it mean? How do we talk about it? How do we teach kids where the lines are?

I’m seriously all about ask culture for this shit. Guess culture feels like poison to me.

When my kids were younger I remember them crying at the park because they believe you can’t play a hitting game without verbal negotiation and other kids would just start hitting. There is no group consensus on boundaries or consent.

I think we surprised the family therapist a little when my kids narrated through how they should escalate boundary violations up through responding with violence. You ask the person to stop touching you first. You ask an adult to help redirect another kid who is touching you in ways you are not ok with. If your words and the teachers words don’t help… go ahead and hurt the kid to make them think it is a bad idea to keep touching you. That’s fine. You have the right to defend your body.

And this is part of why they aren’t in school for a zero tolerance policy on self defense. I know how little the schools can do to dissuade bullies. I know that hitting often works. Ok.

Do you want to be nice or do you want to be effective? Be nice as often as you can… be effective when you have to be.

I tell my kids frequently that escalating to violence is a dangerous thing. You never know when the other person will take your escalation as full permission to beat you into a bloody pulp. (My cousin was hospitalized for several weeks after initiating a fight at 19… be careful who you fight.) You never know if that other person has an older sibling or parent who will think you deserve whatever they want to do to you. The minute you escalate… you are opening the door to more violence being enacted on your body. Be very careful how and when you do that.

And if you do escalate, don’t fucking fight fair. Get that motherfucker off of you.

I don’t know if this is good advice or bad but it is the best I have. Avoid fighting–it’s not a good idea. If someone won’t leave you alone… you need to convince them you are a bad target. I don’t know another way to stay safe.

Being a doormat and being afraid of violence results in a lot of extra abuse and I say fuck that shit. You don’t owe someone a kind rebuff. You don’t owe someone backbends and contortions to tell them no in a way they want to hear.

You owe yourself integrity and that’s it. You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and think, “I did the best I could.” That’s it.

The farther I am from the experience of being raped the more interestingly ambiguous it is in my head. Why did it feel so very traumatic? Why does it stay in my body still? Why do I remember it so strongly? Why does a penis going in my mouth matter so much but someone grabbing my kid’s butt doesn’t seem like such a big deal?

I want to make justifications like “I was being put at risk of STDs or pregnancy and my kid’s life was not at risk of being dramatically altered” but that’s bullshit. I do think part of the reason I am so god damn angry at the men who were friends who raped me as an adult was because I had clearly communicated my sexual boundaries (Sex is great! Condoms are required!) and it didn’t matter. My attempts to keep my body (and theirs) safe didn’t matter in comparison to their desire to have a wet pussy touch their cock. That felt demeaning and debasing and violating.

But frankly the kids who raped me weren’t risking STDs or pregnancy. We were all too young and inexperienced so that’s not really it.

I don’t know what it is.

I for one am thrilled that more male survivors are speaking out. Thank you so much for your courage. I wonder when we will as a society be ready to address sexual assault as a whole phenomena and not a “violence against women” issue. Lots of women perpetrate sexual assault. Lots of men and non-binary people are assaulted. I don’t think that we will be able to really move the needle on this topic until it becomes less about “Those icki penis enabled people.”

I want to know what builds someone’s internal understanding of safety such that unconsented sex acts are traumatizing.

That’s a weird word. Unconsented. Forced. Coerced. Manipulated. Unwanted.

I wish there was a way to talk about all the unwanted sex. All the gradations from “I don’t want to do this but I feel like I should and I’ve never said no” to “I said no but I didn’t fight” to “I fought with all my strength and lost.”

We need ways of talking about the degrees and it just doesn’t exist and I feel like my language is failing me.