BrEAKING Silence

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. Well, I’ve seen a few third faces and one in particular deserves to be brought to the forefront.

This time last year I set sail on uncharted waters to explore the raw and majestic beauty of towering icebergs in Greenland. What happened on Day 3 was nothing short of being in the twilight zone. Here’s the fast forward version of what happened –

(You may not care about my well-being, and that’s fine. So perhaps read this while picturing your daughter, girlfriend or wife telling you about an encounter that she experienced)

After an incredibly beautiful day, it was time to retire for the night. Within seconds of entering my room and uncanny precision, the emergency ceiling hatch opened — it was the Captain. As his body made its way down the ladder, I was overcome with feeling unsafe. He made himself comfortable and acted like this was normal. Before proceeding to share a story, which was his premise for being in my room, I had the presence of mind to fetch my roommate to ensure I wasn’t alone with him.

With both of us in the room, the Captain got up and pretended to perform quality assurance by checking if our entrance door was functioning properly. He LOCKED the room! He pushed the lever so hard that I knew we would not be able to open the door. My roommate and I were stunned and in disbelief. What was happening here? This can’t be real. With alarm bells sounding off inside, I casually asked him to undo the latch. He did. Okay, we can breathe again … for now.

My stateroom aboard Cape Race — the only room with an emergency ceiling escape hatch and a room that’s fair soundproof.

He began to indulge us in a story that apparently could not wait till the morning after in public quarters. While my gut was screaming inside, intellectually, I kept asking myself to give the man the benefit of doubt. After all, his sister had passed away the day before and I was compassionate towards his plight. There’s no way he would have something sinister on his mind, right? Maybe this was going to be a story with a great life lesson or a beautiful love story.

Here’s what he shared …

He met and shared a night with a beautiful married woman during his travels. He could never get her off his mind. Seven years later, they met again by chance. This time, he asked her to join him. She did. He decided to surprise her by taking her to her parents’ village. In this remote village, their custom and tradition was to worship the vagina.

And when the girls came of age, they would cut their pussy hair and give it to the men …

STOP!


This was no love story.

I told him we did not need to hear the rest of the story. And changed the subject to practical mundane matters. He let us know it was our loss; if the rest of the world found out about the technique that villagers teach the girls about how to give oral sex, the entire world would descend there to learn the secret.

I could not believe what I was hearing. We needed to get out of the room. I made an excuse for both of us and got out. Going to sleep that night was impossible. Would he come back through the emergency hatch to rape us?

 .  .  .

REVEALING ALL THINGS BEHIND THE SCENES

The Captain violated my trust, compassion and friendly nature. I am certain his intention was to share the technique villagers taught the girls for giving oral sex and end the story by asking us if we would like to practice on him. For the rest of the trip, I avoided him like the plague. Despite being fully wrapped in layers of clothing suitable for the Arctic, head to toe, I felt naked and violated in his presence or even the thought of him looking at me. I desperately wanted to be invisible.

The Captain’s actions and intentions were sickening. And what crushed me even further was how my friends responded to the incident. In that moment, I gained clarity and understanding for why women don’t come forward to report rape. And why children don’t share with their parents that they’re being sexually abused.

As society, we value fame, status, money, reputation, convenience and self-interest. We’ve been taught to keep the peace (which is ironic) and not rock the boat — at any cost. When someone dares to speak the truth that inevitably promises to ruffle a few feathers, we’ve been trained to muzzle our own and others’ voices. Rather than facing uncomfortable situations head on, we choose to walkaway, shove things under the rug or change the subject so we can maintain “peace.” If we truly want to solve what ails our communities, we need to change this!

Based on my friends’ responses, I started to self-doubt and question my conduct, the events that transpired and the gravity of the situation — in other words, mindfuck yourself. You start to buy the bullshit that your friends and society feed you. What happened was sooooo trippy that your brain starts wigging out; it can’t process the bizarre and deviant exchange. It’s so crazy that you even start to debunk or marginalize what you know happened!

Having experienced and studied this incident, and others, here are some insights and myth busters for all of us — victims, survivors, men, women and society.

 .  .  .

RESPONSES BY FRIENDS & SOCIETY

1

“You have to understand that these are men at sea for long periods of time.”

In making statements like these, we are in effect justifying and validating their behavior. We are letting them know it’s okay and we understand. So keep calm and carry on misbehaving.

If men are sexually frustrated, they can jerk off as many times as they need to. But unwanted advances are not acceptable or understandable under any circumstances.

If these men can’t handle the lifestyle, then they should find another job that’s more suitable for their sanity. No one forced them to be a sailor, truck driver, or a traveling photographer.

2

“Your friendly behavior and potty mouth is an invitation.”

So is being a bitch with proper English the answer?

If my friendly nature is to blame, then how come every other male crew member on this voyage, as well as others, were able to exchange fun banter while maintaining appropriate boundaries?

There is a difference between being friendly and showing an interest in someone. It’s fascinating to know that men can read a running Quarterback’s moves on a football field while being several yards away, and yet, are unable to read the fuck off signs emanating from a woman’s body language within inches of their presence. How convenient!

3

“Long hair turns men on.”

Ummmnn, what doesn’t turn men on?

I love how women are held responsible for men’s inability to control their ding-dong. Women unleash their seductive powers and men are rendered helpless. Their helplessness leads them to misbehave or raping us. Are you fucking serious?

Because men can’t control their little friend, society wants women to live their lives in restraint. There’s uproar about women wearing leggings, shorts, skirts above the knee, sleeveless tops … the list is endless. So how do you explain women being raped in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia where all you can see is their eyes?

The conversation needs to change from what women wear and do, to teaching “men” to view women with respect, and not as objects or property. You know, how they don’t want their daughters to be objectified or thought of as a piece of meat by other vultures … oops, I mean men. And how they themselves think of other women. Yes, it’s a tall order hoping Neanderthals will one day become men. Against all odds, I’m hopeful.

4

“What did YOU do?”

Here’s the truth — It does not matter what we wear or don’t wear. It does not matter what we say or don’t say. It does not matter what we look like or don’t look like. Women of all shapes, sizes, ages, looks, attire, and hair length get sexually harassed, violated and raped. Period.

Random tidbit — When I shared this incident with a few women, most of them could relate and shared incidents that happened to them in their past. The balance shared that something had happened to them too, but did not want to divulge the details.

Police and societal interrogation focuses on what we wore that night? Were we flirting? What did we say? How much did we drink? How sexually active are we? These questions are asked to paint a picture of women as being promiscuous and whores. In doing so, they are implying that as a whore, you were asking for it or even deserved it.

Speaking of whores, let’s make one thing clear — Prostitutes can be raped too.

5

“The Captain had a momentary lapse of judgment.”

Well, in his momentary lapse of judgment, we could have been raped.

To understand someone’s why is important. But to understand their why as a way to reason and excuse their behavior is stunningly insensitive and equally horrifying as the acts committed by the perpetrator.

6

“He apologized to you. So why did you report him? He’ll lose his job”

There’s a difference between apologizing for being tardy versus behaving sexually inappropriate.

He may have apologized for many reasons — he wanted to end the visible awkwardness between us, he was afraid I would spill the beans or he was feeling guilty … whatever his reasons, I’m glad he apologized. That does not change the fact that it is my duty to report him to help avert future incidents. There were other women crew members on that ship. What if he loses his marbles one night and decides to force himself on one of them?

Perpetrators are counting on us to stay silent. Our silence emboldens them. Our silence builds their confidence and keeps their façade intact. Our silence gives them validation for their behavior. I provide no such endorsement. I had to report him.

And in the spirit of breaking silence, his name is Kim Smith and he is the Captain of Cape Race.

Don’t put the burden or guilt of him losing his job on me. He should have thought about his job before he started thinking of how to serve his dick. He alone is responsible for the consequences of his actions or his “momentary” lapse of judgment. He owns that, not me.

7

“That’s surprising. We’ve never had any complaints about the Captain. Like ever!”

And I’m not surprised. Like not even one iota.

Oh, and by the way, I found out that this was not his first incident. He’s done this shit before. I was not surprised to learn that either. Of course he’s done this before!

Perpetrators start small — small infractions, small misgivings, and small inappropriate behaviors. When these small “much ado about nothing” incidents go unreported, they learn that they can getaway with it. They learn that there are no consequences to their actions. So they do it again. And each time, they push the boundaries with greater confidence. Before you know it, what may have started with cat calling, peeping Tom, groping or indecent exposure could eventually end up being a rapist. This is what silence creates.

We must break our long standing culture of silence, shame and judgment. We must change our long held archaic thoughts that are misogynistic and sexist — often referred to as tradition.

RESOURCES

The Hunting Ground — CNN films presents this revealing documentary about rape on college campuses.

Why I became a sex offender and started raping women.

Interrogation Delaney Robinson received when she accused Allen Artis, a football player, of rape.

Spotlight Movie Trailer — based on a true story where systemic clergy sex crimes were covered up and they let children continue to be abused.

Published: September 17, 2017

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Twizted Myrtle is sustained by readers like you. As a solo creator, crafting each piece demands significant time, money and resources. Your ongoing support, big or small, makes a real difference. If the content here enriches your life in any way, please consider becoming an ally as a  sustaining patron.

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