The First Steps of Exposure Therapy

The men who attacked me were trying to make me small. They wanted to keep me quiet. I was a reminder to them that strength knows no gender, and neither does intelligence. Regardless of their race, orientation, age, and class, they all shared a contempt for women. They resented any woman they perceived as “withholding”Continue reading “The First Steps of Exposure Therapy”

Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA

CONTENT WARNING Now that I’ve finished my literary theory class, it’s on to the next course in my Accessible MFA: a fiction seminar. Full disclosure, I copied a lot of this from novelist Lily Hoang’s syllabus, which she generously shared on HTML Giant. Of course I chose my own textbooks, set up my own schedule,Continue reading “Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA”

Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy

Impact statements have revealed the many self-defeating, destructive lessons that sexual assault taught me. In the ten years between 16 and 26, I survived four sexual assaults. The assailants were a high school classmate, a man ten years older than I was who hired me as his English tutor, and my own father. At 20,Continue reading “Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy”

Misunderstanding Feminism

We need some nuance here. We need to talk about the distinction between systemic, socialized misogyny and individuals who simply annoy us. That white man in his sixties who constantly talks at me—is he assuming that he’s entitled to my attention because I look female? Or is he a socially anxious extrovert who can’t shutContinue reading “Misunderstanding Feminism”

Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing

In Zen Buddhism, Ango is a three-month period of intensive study and practice. One aspect of Ango is that members of a Zen center study the precepts. These are guidelines for ethical conduct that have been passed on by ordained Buddhist priests across the millennia. My Zen center is headed by an ordained male priest,Continue reading “Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing”

Commonality

I cannot thank you enough. For in reading my story, you have become part of it now, too. All survivors need to be heard. Need to be believed. It is part of how we can heal each other. It is a gift. Thank you. But my story has only been a grain of sand inContinue reading “Commonality”

After He Strangled Me

The next morning I went downstairs to breakfast in the dining hall as usual, but it wasn’t usual. I sat beside my brother, poking my spoon into the cereal I’d let go soggy, and I avoided looking up from my bowl. My hands were shaking. My pulse throbbed in my throat. I had done everythingContinue reading “After He Strangled Me”