Why I don't like the International Women's Day
Because I am allergic to hypocrisy, that is why. These five words sum up the meaning of what follows pretty well, yet they make little sense unless you read on. Here below are the photographs of the police report of an attempt of rape, back in 2008. It was a full day, half past three in the afternoon, in a pretty packed Intercity train between Padova and Vicenza, Italy.
What yours truly learned back then is that people are loud and clear in the virtual world of social media, yet when it comes to the nitty gritty reality, rather than shouting their opinions in defence of others, they rather sit still and watch, regardless of what may be unfolding in front of their eyes.
For those who can't read Italian, the report here describes the main facts pretty accurately, however it misses a few details that I find crucial, in hindsight. The guy who attacked me approached me with an usual question, first - he heard me talking on the phone with my mom, telling her to come pick me up at the station, and he asked me what language I was speaking. Without paying much attention, I replied it was Serbian-Croatian and then the shit hit the fan - as if a mere answer to a banal question were an all-round "yes-please-fuck-me-now" consent.
In hindsight - this is all it takes, whatever excuse is enough to break the barrier. Next, I found myself having to take his hands and arms off me, after which I have left the cabin I was in. There were people in the corridor that I passed by, who also clearly saw that the guy was following me and yet did nothing.
The police report says he nailed me against the train door, as I was waiting for the train to stop at the station, while pulling my head back towards him obliging me to look at him, sticking his cock between my butt cheeks (still over my skirt), and well, rubbing himself against me and therefore reaching an erection. All of this is true, except for the tiny little fact that he already had a massive hard on before. He got that hard on a couple of minutes earlier in the corridor of the train, under the eyes of at least 5-6 innocent bystanders. He slammed me against the corridor wall and told me "Let's fuck now and you will never see me again". I looked at the people sitting in the nearby compartment in search for help, but they either turned their heads away or just kept staring, and that is where I truly shat my pants for the first time (figuratively speaking!).
Because I realised I was alone. Because whatever he was up to, it was perceived as OK, it was accepted and allowed by other humans on that train. It was their reaction that made me feel like whatever that guy was up to, it was normal and it was OK, regardless of how it made me feel.
He had no hard on until I turned back and looked at him in absolute fear. It was then that his erection came up, it was an instant thing, so as the grin on his face, which I would so love to erase out of my memory. These are one of those things where having an elephant memory like mine works as a double edged sword. There I learned however, that no mentally sane person could ever get excited in a situation like that. That whoever perpetrates this kind of violence is sick in some way. So I ran away and ran through two train wagons as the train was pulling up the platform, which is why I was facing the door when he came behind me and nailed me like that.
Another detail missing from the report is that, well, while that train was half the way in the platform already, and I was nailed at the door, it took a sudden brake. The inertia yes, allowed me to get my head free and turn and face the guy; however it also swung open the toilet door right next to where I was standing. He took a look at the toilet, took a look at me, grinned, turned to look at the toilet again and that is where I used a split second to escape. I ran through another wagon full of people. yelling at that point, jumping over their stuff and trying to reach the next door. Again, no one tried to stop him. So I reached the next door, where two women were standing with three huge suitcases. I begged them to let me pass and stand at the doorstep because a freak was after me, but I was greeted with an annoyed comment of "Don't you see we have all these suitcases..." - while the train door proceeded to finally open.
So I had to wait for the ladies to get their luggage down; the rest of the passengers let me pass, however it gave enough time to that guy to reach me and stick his hand into my underwear as I was exiting the damn train. I shouted so loud that the entire platform turned to look, and sprinted away... breaking my personal sprinting record, I guess.
It took me a full week to report the case, because I felt guilty for answering that first question: "Which language was that?". I felt guilty because the rest of the folk behaved as if it was the most normal, rightful thing to do. Which is why I shudder at those self-righteous 8th of March posts on Facebook. Luckily, my friend Luca put the things into perspective for me by asking me: "Hey, had he shoved that cock down your throat in that toilet, would you be feeling less guilty??". So I went and I did my duty. I was so uncomfortable and sick during that session, that I had no strength or heart to change the slight details missing, as the most of it was on the paper anyway. The police officer who filed it was so furious, that he actually broke the pen he was fiddling with. I asked the officer if he could remove the words like "immigrant", "foreigner" and "non-EU citizen" as synonyms for the perpetrator from the report, as I was also an "immigrant" and a "foreigner" and a "non-EU citizen", but he just didn't understand why, and I was close to vomiting there on the spot, so I let it go. It doesn't take a Superman hero to beat the guy up in order to stop something like this from happening. Just a simple "hey come sit with us!" before the situation escalates is more than enough to flip that fear and abuse switch back. As long as the violence is ignored, it is also allowed. This wasn't an isolated episode, as most of my friends had been stalked, followed home, randomly touched all over by random strangers, and this was also not the first assault that I have had, though it was by far the closest call. Strangely enough, I have never experienced anything alike ever since dropping my research science job and working as a musician and street musician, too. One would think that a tutu and high heels sporting creature like Miss Stereochemistry would be more likely to attract stuff like that, but there is nothing further from truth than this. Why it is so? Well, it made me wonder for a long, long while, and it was busking on the streets that gave me the best insight into this so far. Back in the day, while I was a student and a research scientist, I was a pretty insecure, fucked up creature. I hated myself for not being able to stand up for my own wishes, for betraying what I wanted to do in order to make everyone else proud and happy, I was riddled with a full spectrum of eating disorders, a consequence of wars, immigration, integration, etc... this is also one of the two main reasons why I never did drugs - I knew I was an addict (the other reason is that I enjoy my natural insanity way too much to spoil it!). I also firmly believed I was the ugliest girl in the world and had no trace of self-esteem. I believe that it is this mix of inner weirdness and tendencies to self-harm that somehow "attracts" the others to, well, harm you. It is the mindset of the victim that makes you become one, in the end, and the perpetrators can smell that from miles away. Why do I think this? I have busked enough all over Europe to know of a certain phenomenon, universally valid for all the buskers under the Sun: if you are out there on the street for pure fun and you DO NOT NEED the money, rest assured that the money and CD sales and donations and the most enthusiastic crowd will simply rain on you.
However, if you are out there busking because it is the end of the month and you really NEED to pay that rent, oh well... you are the same person, playing the same songs, but somehow, by some weird twist of the Universe, people can SMELL the despair on you. They KNOW you NEED those 30, 50, 100, 200 bucks. And so you turn from a globe-trottering whimsical street artist into a beggar. And that damn hat stays empty.
This street research has a tighter p-value and more solid statistics than most of the stuff I did in the labs, which is why I feel so entitled to speak of it this matter-of-factly. For all I know, ever since I enjoy my self-condifence, my own body (that I would never ever trade for any other under this Sun or change it anyhow!) and the life that I always wanted to have, I have never had a similar experience of abuse, not even a glimpse. As a touring musician, I spend way more time all on my own on trains, busses, airplanes, than I did as a research scientist. Same goes for sleeping at houses, trailers, venues of complete strangers, sharing them often with other strangers - the beds I have crashed in are literally countless. Yet my apparently riskier kind of life-style has proven safer than the streets of small towns of Northern Italy I used to live in as a student.
The presence of someone's inner shit as a freak-magnet doesn't justify the violence, and it should never be seen as such. I also don't want this to come through as a self-blaming, victim-playing thing - it is exactly the opposite. This is about taking control over your own life and your own life experiences, and it feels great to do this.
Also, I don't consider rape as a female problem at all. Men get raped, transgender get raped, kids get raped, people get raped. I mentioned the International Women's day before, because rape is THE topic on everybody's mouth on that day, together with discrimination at work and salary inequity. That's about it :) It is such a relief to get this shit from off my soul.