While rehearsing a mini-version of “Asking For It” today, I came to the part where a teenager’s rape and subsequent suicide triggers a long overdue outburst from my character Bernadette.
from the book…
“We had been on the phone for over an hour when a segment came on a talk show and caught my attention. The family of a girl who had been raped, at fourteen, and then committed suicide, wanted a law passed charging her rapist with murder.
“They can’t pass a law like that. They’re two separate crimes.” I at least knew that much.
Noah tuned in just in time to hear a lawyer say, “They can’t pass a law like that. They’re two separate crimes.” Triggered by the TV lawyer, I got sucked in to the family’s situation. Another level of pain whooshed in and strangled my heart. My voice came from a new place –a place never before reached in spite of all the voice lessons. It was a primal sound that shook loose years of buried rage.
I lashed out at the lawyer. “I want to hear you say that out of your ass with your Turnbull and Asser shirt yanked up over your head so your arms are bound, and your Armani pants torn and pulled down around your ankles so your legs can’t move, and a strange dick up your butt while your penis is being ripped off and tell me from right there, from that place that it’s not murder. Because it is!”
I had lost all sense of space and time and place for a moment.”
and I’m filled with rage once again over the same story happening to a 17 year old Indian girl who fell victim to rape and took her own life last week. And this was in between the New Delhi gang rape of the 23 year old young woman and her death from injuries sustained during the attack with a metal pipe on New Years day. And in our own country – the release of a video of some Steubenville, Ohio football team members joking about the drugging, kidnapping and repeated rape of an underage girl at one of their parties. I couldn’t watch it at first, had to force myself. One of the teen-agers in the background of the Steubenville video asked the ranting imbecile how he would feel if it was his daughter. But there was no empathy, only more scorn. Last week was topped off by the Republican members of the US House of Representatives refusing to pass the Violence Against Women Act. Every time I get ready to do this show there is some horrific event like those that make the material regrettably relevant. I’m longing for the day when the funny parts of the play pull focus.
There are heroes in all this…the young man who tried to protect the 23 year-old girl and who was also savagely beaten and is now healing and speaking out. ”Anonymous” for releasing the video and shining a light on the Steubenville case and the thousands of people in India and Ohio who have stood up for the victims in protest.
Recently I was asked how I would feel about being a spokesperson for an organization that deals with Sexual Violence Against Women and I have hesitated with the usual (for me) misgivings. “I’m not an expert… no degrees…too old…no longer telegenic…the list goes on. But I’m beginning to see that we must all be spokespersons. It’s just not enough to do a play or write a book. I want to move on to other things but clearly there is too much to be done as long as people are being sexually savaged.