To add to the horror, 3 more women have accused the same man of raping them, also in Parliament House, before this publicised rape occurred.
A systemic problem is highlighted and reinforced three times over. In our highest place of work--the Parliament. What kind of example does that set for Australian society?
A comment was made by someone on TV about the shame associated with rape. Mr E says, "Surely in this day and age, a women shouldn't feel ashamed of being raped?"
And yes, I get where he's coming from (that rape has less stigma attached to it than 30 years ago when we were young) BUT he waved a red flag at this bull. Poor man. I don't think he ever realises how deeply I think about everything.
"Of course there's still shame associated with rape. There's still shame associated with sex."
"How?" he asks.
And off I go! Actually, I was rather restrained because I had to bite my tongue a little and not spill all the bitterness and anger I've been working my way through over the last decade.
I mentioned sex workers and their treatment during covid. When he wasn't convinced, I brought the example to the personal.
"Look at Cate Ellink," I said. "People still don't want to know she exists. They still don't acknowledge her books, won't talk to her on social media. Why? Because she writes sex. Sex is shameful. That message may be lessening but it's still reinforced in society all the time. And women still get called 'slutty' for clothes they wear. Women still hear that they 'incite men to sex' and other crap. Shame underlies everything about sex. Until we can speak openly about sex, rape will always happen because of the shame associated with the abuse of power and the unwanted sex act itself that women have been conditioned to believe they incited." Maybe I was more mad rambling than that. I'm not good at remembering verbatim!
Rape is an horrific act of violence perpetrated by, in this case, a man in a position of power on a young and vulnerable woman.
Rape can happen in any circumstance, by any combination of gender. It's about power. Abhorrent disregard for another person. It's abuse--physical and emotional.
The conversation, however, became personal. It highlighted how much hurt I still carry about something far less invasive than rape. I have worked through a lot of it, but there are still pangs there. My issues are insignificant compared with those of a rape victim. Yet, I hurt.
When I wrote my first erotic work, in my 20s, no one in my 'real' life ever saw it. I shared it with a few trusted people online, who had encouraged me to speak freely about sex. If I hadn't fallen into the community of online people who accepted sex as a normal part of life, and encouraged me to explore it, I don't know if I would have ever changed my narrow views of sex that my conservative upbringing had given me.
It took me 20 years to develop enough courage to allow my erotic writing a public viewing.
It's taken me another 10 years to be at a point where the hurt and anger at people's reactions to my public viewing has lessened enough that I can speak calmly and rationally and not bottle it up in a bitter stew brewing inside me.
Society moves slowly at times--sometimes even more slowly than me! That's because society is made up of individuals, and a large number of people need to work through a change in mindset (or agree with a viewpoint) before the ball rolls on change.
People can't change their mindset without knowing that there are other ways to think.
And to know there are other ways to think, those who think differently need to be publicly vocal. They need to stand tall and proud and give voice to what they know as their truth.
That is terrifying. For me anyway.
To stand in a shitstorm of public opinion, and cop whatever crazy abuse people sling at you, takes a huge amount of courage. I always admire people who can do that.
The young woman who publicly spoke of her rape, and all the people who speak of their assaults, are so incredibly brave, powerful, courageous and thoroughly deserving of my gratitude and admiration, even if that seems paltry and insignificant.
A saying keeps nagging at me - if I won't speak out, who will?
And so I'm making a small blog post here. I spoke a few sentences to Mr E. I stand by my Cate Ellink name and books, proudly (but quietly). It's not enough, but I'm not yet brave enough to do more.
I am a work in progress.