HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kay Fabe’s blog Post-Fundamentalist Fashion. It was originally published on June 9, 2014.
Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault.
So I saw Maleficent over the weekend. And for me and many other sexual assault survivors, that gut-wrenching scene where Stefan cuts off Maleficent’s wings instantly read as rape. I just sat there staring in shock, like…. “No. He took HER WINGS. This is way worse than if he just stabbed her.”
Maleficent’s wings are her source of power. Stefan takes that power away from her, but in the end SHE GETS IT BACK. I was so, so happy about that. (I love that the idea of rape is so clearly tied to power, rather than sex, throughout the whole film, too. It’s not like “her wings are her virginity, and she lost that, so now she’s broken.” It’s like “Her wings are her power, and he stole them, but she can get them back.” YES, YES, YES.)
But in that scene where she’s slowly limping down the hill afterwards, stunned, leaning on her staff and trying to process what just happened, my heart bled. I know pretty much exactly what she felt like at that moment.
This story is for later, but the guy who assaulted me was much older and he was constantly pushing my boundaries and trying to get me to do things I felt uncomfortable with. (It says something that I thought marrying this dude would be better than living with my parents.) The actual assault was one of those pesky gray areas: it started out as a sort-of-consensual encounter, and then he told me to do something I was uncomfortable with and I said “No,” and then he grabbed me and made me do it anyway. We broke up soon after.
I was really angry at him for a long time, but the older I get and the farther away from it I get, I’ve started to feel like my anger was sort of misdirected. That dude only took up about four months of my life, tops. The homeschool culture spent 20+ years systematically stripping me of my privacy, dignity and autonomy as a human being.
I came to realize I was raised in a culture that stole my wings before I really knew I had them. My No didn’t matter. My Yes didn’t matter. Basically, nothing I said really mattered – so I quit trying to say anything. When Mr. Grîma Wormtongue first met me, he knew I would be a REALLY easy person to abuse, so he took advantage of that.
I don’t have a good way to end this, exactly, but I think it’s sobering that so much of the homeschool subculture is a massive power play. The people in control are determined to stay in control, even if that means systematically destroying the individual souls of individual kids. They’re basically like, “We don’t care about you as a person, about what you think or feel or say. We’re just going to do our thing and be in charge, and we don’t care if you get broken. In fact, it’s easier for us if we can break you.”
Honestly, if rape is about power, homeschooling sometimes looks very, very similar.
I was homeschooled, but I am getting my wings back. Feather by beautiful feather.
Homeschooling is not what damaged you. There is no “homeschool culture.” There is a culture of patriarchy that uses homeschooling as one of its many control mechanisms. Homeschooling is nothing at all like rape. Mind-controlling your children is.
You are so right about the movie being exceptional in its representation of rape as a power issue rather than a sexual one. I wish you the best in your healing process.
“Homeschooling is not what damaged you.” The thing I genuinely can’t understand is what makes you feel in any way that you have the right or the ability to “correct” what someone has just told you about themselves or their experience? It’s mind blowing.
Let’s do a little role-play here:
You say “I just got hit by a car, and it broke my leg, and I am in a lot of pain.”
I reply “Now, be realistic here. The CAR didn’t break your leg, it was the DRIVER of the car. I’m sorry that happened to you, but the REAL victim here is the car if you think about it.”
See what I am getting at?
Yes, I see what you are getting at, and your analogy is inaccurate. I feel the right and need to correct it on behalf of the thousands of homeschoolers who have NOT been damaged in any way by homeschooling. It’s the parents and their lifestyle that do the damage. You can’t take one aspect of that lifestyle, especially one that is used successfully by many other parents, and blame it for all the problems. It is inflammatory and offensive to liken homeschooling to rape, and I have every right to point that out. Homeschooling has been hijacked by the patriarchal movement. Put the blame where it really lies.
Also, your comment implies that (A) I said she was not the real victim, and (B) that homeschooling is the tool that was used to abuse her. It wasn’t. Homeschooling means something completely different to non-fanatical parents than it does to the patriarchal movement. It’s their fanaticism that does the damage, whether they channel it through homeschooling, private schooling, radio, books, music, or what-have-you. This is why I say your analogy with the car accident is off-mark.
“Put the blame where it really lies.” Hundreds of thousands of people drive cars safely every day. Therefore it is inflammatory and wrong to say that the car broke your leg.
Please, keep going…
Yeah it was.
It’s a widely known fact that the two demographics most likely to choose homeschooling for their children are:
– Douchebag, patriarchalist fathers
– Overbearing, control freak mothers
All other homeschooling parents are anomalies and statistically insignificant. Therefore, it is the culture that screwed the OP up.
You need to do more research about homeschoolers. There is a wide demographic out there who would never bother with HSLDA or its typical followers. Just because you haven’t been exposed to them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I repeat: There is no “homeschool culture.” There are cultures that include homeschooling as part of their lifestyle.
Your experience is not at all a grey area! You said no, then he attacked you. 😦
Does any fanatic know that they are a fanatic? I was raised by fanatics, but didn’t realize it until I got some distance from the situation. I thought that praying down curses on Bill Clinton was just something you do at church after breaking bread 🙂
Sophelia, if by saying “the car broke my leg” you are implying that cars are autonomously harmful, then yes, it would be wrong and inflammatory. On the other hand, after reading again the exact words in the article, I guess I’m being oversensitive. I keep thinking “she compared homeschooling to rape,” but in fact all she said was that it sometimes looks very similar. And I have to concede that point. So, I apologize for my overreaction.