Still from the video of All the Good Girls to Hell by Billie Ellish
“...Who asked you to chat up the Tar-Baby? And who stuck you up the way you are? Nobody in the round world. You just jammed yourself on that Tar-Baby without waiting for any invitation,” said Brer Fox,. “And here you are, and there you’ll stay until I fix up a heap of brushwood and make a fire, ’cos I’m going to barbecue you today for sure,” said Brer Fox.
So Brer Rabbit talked in a mighty humble way. “I don’t care what you do with me, Brer Fox” said Brer Rabbit. “Just don’t fling me in that briar patch over there. Roast me, Brer Fox, but don’t fling me in in that briar patch,” said Brer Rabbit...
*Excerpt, Uncle Remus and the Legends of the Old Plantation by Joel Chandler Harris
Life in cahoots with a soul involved in a spiritual design can deal a person a dose of action and anguish reminiscent of archangel wrestling. They say no one gets more grief than they can handle. I'm not so sure about that. People are capable of such heinous and vicious acts that victims give out all the time under the weight of misfortune, murder, evil deeds, torture and suffering. I have, however, found it to be true in my case. There was a lesson in consequence in this event and it orbits outside the norm. No rape is ever fair in terms of human decency but this event was, sadly, business as usual by the reality of the day. This is as much about being violated as it is a lesson for me in how I pressed myself into a hazardous situation after an emergence. There was information for me on both counts. Rape is not a laughing matter except when laughing is an act of resistance. Gallows humor is a refuge from what can straight up kill a person. The ability to shut down or laugh about a personal tragedy is only part of the story and humor as a coping strategy can allow a type of room or breathing space to survive until the time and place is found to heal this kind of wound. The need to be witnessed and regain all of what was stolen is absolutely required, however. The trick is to not allow humor to galvanize a person from being able to stand up and cry out to retrieve themselves from dis-empowering violations. I would be led to that help eventually.
Thank you for listening.
This audio file describes a rape situation. You may want to forego it, if that is a sensitive topic for you.
Different Ways, Chapter 16 , Everybody's Got a Laughing Place , pp. 116-120.
Music: Few can look over the world to view its darkness and report it all as eloquently as Leonard Cohen. He's not afraid of the dark and he's better able than most to report to us what he sees. Someone has to look; someone has to see, so that when we are ready, we can feel.
* Just a note here about the Uncle Remus bit. I don't know why at the time I made reference to Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox post assault but I've a hunch ...the shock of the rape and all of scratches from the briar brambles, is suspect...I think I have too many lifetimes and my brain is too small to filter my dialogs that surface from them sometimes. Also the time spiral and that all time is happening at once thing. That said, since the 70's, there is much discourse about what is now considered undesirable references and I don't know but this may be one of them. If anyone is offended, I apologize.
On this subject, just after writing this, I was prompted to watch an old western made in 1960 on my computer called (ironically) The Unforgiven. Two things happened: one, as expected, I saw that the Kiowa Indians playing the lead roles were white. The second revelation turned my stomach and I checked to see the date of production in disbelief after I heard Audie Murphy more than once shout, "dirty, red, Ni###s!" I mean, what the ever-loving-fuck? 1960? (The central theme of the movie was not about prejudice though I read the original work written by the then deceased Alan Le May was. Hollywood in its unrelenting ignorance turned it into a romance burying the point.) Here's the thing... in 1960, I probably would not have even flinched hearing that. This is the humiliating good news. I and many other white people are coming around - not quick enough for the people of color in this country, no doubt - but we are beginning to recognize the scope of the burden these Americans have been carrying of our white privilege and ignorance.
I'm not so sure it is in the best interest of history to ban these creative travesties. I believe we need to own up to the necessary changes that must happen so we never have to hear and see that kind of ignorance again in a modern context. That may involve having to look at such things to understand just how commonplace this prejudice is historically and how far we've come and have yet to go. It was a shock, to be sure, but it was also an amazing thing to realize that so much has changed around these issues in a 250 year old country steeped in American slavery, prejudice and occupation. A lot of fear and hatred has been transformed so far in the last sixty years to bring us to our modern, heartfelt respect and appreciation of diversity. We must continue to hold the line.
Thank you for joining me here. The memoir Different Ways: Revealing the Feminine can be purchased through my website using a link to Village Books at AlltheDifferentWays.com. There will soon be an eBook version available with an independent retailer. The e-book on Amazon is a bit of a mess but free if you are a Kindle member. Don't buy it. Parts are missing.
The BlogCast that outlines my intentions for this series of readings from my book, Different Ways, Revealing the Feminine can be found here in the post, Between the Lines.