After George Will’s heinous column in the Washington Post and other papers suggesting that rape victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, a friend asked my thoughts on the subject. I had read it but there’s so much hate-based stuff out there that I didn’t allow it to penetrate… Until he asked about my thoughts. It’s kind of new being asked about my thoughts so that woke me up… again. I signed the petition to the Washington Post that was circulated by Nita and Shauna, those wonderful activists at Ultraviolet and yesterday George Will’s column had been dropped by the St. Louis dispatch. The Chicago Tribune would not print it in the first place.
As the Dalai Lama said “the world will be changed by Western women.”
“Your thoughts?” This one inquiry triggered in me a deeper connection and sense of responsibility to the college audiences who will be experiencing “Asking For It” starting in Ohio in October in partnership with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and in NYC in partnership with SAVI (Sexual Assault Violence Intervention program).
In the very beginning, as “Asking For It” was developing, Walter Willison who directed that version came backstage after a performance and told me that there was a man left in the house alone and shaken and told Walter that “this was his story.” Walter thought I should talk to him. My knee-jerk reaction was this: “I’m an actor, I’m a writer, I’m not a shrink.” But I did sit with the man for a while and I have continued to spend time afterwards as both the show and now the book and I have evolved.
Partnering with counseling centers, the brainchild of Actor/Producer Jeffrey Grover, offers a new opportunity for healing. Talkbacks following the performance, followed by a book signing in the theater lobby will open up possibilities of one-on-one communication and access to literature and concrete information, as well as personal contacts with actual counselors if needed.
Hopefully, the President’s task force is making progress with the colleges. As far as I can see it’s really challenging… The college sexual assault groups are not equipped to adjudicate a felony. They’re comprised of faculty administrators, some students and mostly all they can do is expel the rapist. They have the reputation of the school to protect and the civil rights of the accused understandably have to be honored. As far as law enforcement goes, there’s the challenge of needing a preponderance of evidence. They have to think about convincing a jury and a victim can be further traumatized by a less than an empathic assistant district attorney.
This makes the role of the rape counseling centers so incredibly important if one is to heal. To have someone to listen, to understand, to guide, to advise, to advocate. I also have gone back to One Spirit Interfaith Seminary to study InterSpiritual Counseling so I can be more present and skillful with whomever I serve.
I keep looking at prevention. I was thinking I want to move on from the subject of rape in my work and I do. But everything I write eventually brings me to question the roots of misogyny which seem to be the source of a whole lot of what ails us today. I think of all the millions of us who sat through religion classes or Sunday Mass hearing the myth of Adam and that harlot Eve causing the fall – separating man from his God – over and over letting it seep into our cell memory. The work we need to do in the midst of all the 21st century cruelty is on such a deep level but I think we have to go there.