Sorry I have been out of commission for a while. The winter weather, job changes, and some crazy stress have me living in the ruts right now. Of course – it is now March which means that I am starting to panic about the work I have to get done for Sexual Assault Awareness Month – but that is just the normal for me…I wouldn’t call it panic as much as I would call it worried excitement.
As you know – I am helping with an Art Installation project called, “What I was Wearing When I was Raped.” I have been thinking about what I would say – because I will be submitting a piece as well. This year’s theme is all about OUR voices – the voices of survivors – and I am really excited about that. Just to refresh you…here is the poem by Mary Simmerling and the purpose of the project is to do away with these ideas that what someone wears makes them “ask for it.”
What I was Wearing
by Mary Simmerling
from the top
a white t-shirt
and round at the neck
this was tucked into
a jean skirt
ending just above the knees
and belted at the top
underneath all this
was a white cotton bra
and white underpants
(though probably not a set)
on my feet
white tennis shoes
the kind one plays tennis in
and then finally
silver earrings, and lip gloss.
this is what i was wearing
that fourth of july
you may be wondering
why this matters
or even how i remember
in such detail
i have been asked this question
it has been called to my mind
but my answer
seems flat somehow
given the rest of the details
of that night
at some point
i was raped.
and i wonder
would give comfort
could give comfort
seeking comfort where
to be found.
if only it were so simple
if only we could
by simply changing clothes.
i remember also
what he was wearing
that no one
has ever asked.
What I was Wearing by Joan
What was I wearing when I was sexually assaulted?
Maybe I should ask you, which time?
However, that really doesn’t matter,
Because what I was wearing everytime,
Was a US Army Uniform.
There was supposed to be no gender in a US Army uniform and there was no such thing as race, color or religion. That is what I was told, I was a soldier, the person next to me was a soldier, and so was the person next to that person. We are all soldiers. One of the questions people would ask when I joined is; “What if you go to war and get captured and the enemy rapes you?” I always thought it was a funny question, no different than getting shot…right? However, it is a lot different than getting shot, because most of the time you are shot – it is by an enemy combatant. Everytime I was raped it was by someone who was wearing the same uniform I was.
That is my contribution to the project – that and the last uniform I ever wore. I had put it in a plastic container – rank still on it, sleeves still rolled, pen in the pocket, and the ear plug case still attached. The only thing I stripped was the belt. Now the uniform will have a home and maybe even a purpose.
Thank you to those who have sent me posts – they are more powerful than you may know. The stories are already ripping at the hearts of the people who are part of the system here. They show that we could be their sister, brother, husband, wife, child, or parent. They show that we are normal, average, every day people. We don’t wear little beacons that say, “rape me!” We are them.
I still wonder how long this is going to take to change. The 21 May 2013 issue of Marine Corps Times has a headline “Busted for ‘SAMMICH’ Jokes.” Although it states that Marine Corps leadership won’t tolerate this anymore, a short internet search shows that the Facebook pages F’N Wook and Just the Tip, Of the Spear are still active and posting. In 2015 it is perfectly acceptable to make inappropriate remarks about female servicemembers – including barracks mattresses and sandwich jokes.
“Oh, but Joan, it’s a joke – just a joke.” Really? Okay, let me rephrase a couple of these….(Trigger Warning – uncomfortable statements below – even more…horrible and disgusting racial remarks and I beg your forgiveness but I use them to make a point!)
There is a meme with Darth Vader pointing at Princess Leia and it says, “Sammiches, they don’t make themselves.”
Let’s replace Darth Vader with a white man and let’s replace Princess Leia with a black man. Is it still okay? A white man directing a black man to go make him a Sammich. Better yet – let’s go really overboard and have Former President George W. Bush saying that to President Barack Obama. Is it still okay?
There are memes of women with bruised faces that are captioned, “She burned the bacon” and “I told you no mayo, bitch” and these are okay? Why is this okay?
Would it be okay if we posted these types of things with a white man beating a Native American woman and calling her a “Squaw”?
What about a White Man telling a Latino Man to “lay on your wetback – barracks mattress.” Is that okay?
NO – I say none of it is okay. If you are reading this and you are still in the military and you think it is okay – I dare you to walk up to a high ranking female NCO (such as a 1SGT or CSM or Gunnery SGT) and look at her and say “Go get me a Sammich.” If you are even braver – I suggest you choose a female of color and include a racial remark. Perhaps something like, “Oh, thank goodness, the head house n**** is here to bring me my sammich.” I had an amazing Female 1SGT back in the early 90’s and if you had said this to her…you would STILL be looking for your parts!!
These are not JOKES – a joke is two Jews walk into a bar…WAIT A MINUTE – that isn’t a joke either!! None of it is funny!!
A joke is something funny that when shared makes people happy – all the people – and it is something you can tell in front of your granny – that is a joke. “A toilet was stolen from a police station today…it is a pretty serious crime. The police have nothing to go on.” See – funny!
Women have become the new group to make jokes about and it is disgusting. In a world where one in three women in their lifetime will experience some form of sexual violence – it is unacceptable!