Short Story Sunday: Slut

Yesterday I was driving home. We’ve just had the first rain of the year. A full rainbow, the complete arc, from end to end was in the sky before me. And I don’t know what it was, maybe something on the radio, a flash memory, or a song, but I thought about all of the times I’ve been sexually harassed, assaulted, and otherwise bothered, hurt, or whatever by predatory assholes. I was suddenly so depressed. I flipped through the radio looking for a song to distract my brain. No such luck. Nothing to distract my brain or my heart. I hope with the stories coming out in the news that everyone, women and men, will stop this kind of behavior, and stop turning a head to this kind of behavior. Then I arrived home and saw the man who loves me standing on the front porch with a smile. 

This story was first posted here in 2015, but I’m posting it again today. Maybe that rainbow was a sign that things will get better. I can only hope that the younger generatin of men and wiomen  won’t put up with expectations that they’ll be weak, and voiceless. ~ Juliette

 

Slut

One of the big things everyone is talking about is sexual assault on campus or in college towns. I’ve talked about it with my two kids who are in college. Everyone has, at least everyone who is a decent parent.

So I get this call from Hodge Williams. Yes, that Hodge Williams. Everyone remembers him.

“Bart, how are you?” As soon as he spoke I wondered what he wanted.

“Hodge. Fine. Great. Life is good. What’s up?”

“I’m writing a story on the history of sexual harassment and violence at universities in the US. I tried to contact your sister but she wouldn’t return my calls.”

“Beth?”

“Yes, Beth. She kind of got around so I was thinking she might have experienced first hand, you know, she was at risk.”

“What do you mean by at risk?”

“Oh come on, your sister was a slut. Everyone knew it.”

I sat there with the phone a bit stunned. He just called my sister a slut.

“Hodge, you’re an asshole. In fact you’ve always been an asshole.” I hung up the phone. What an asshole.

After sitting for a few minutes and collecting my thoughts I called my sister and told her about the conversation.

“What an asshole,” she said. “Sure I was sleeping with his best friend without the benefit of being his best friend’s official girlfriend. OK I also slept with another one of his friends but we were in college. We were young.”

“Did you ever sleep with Hodge?”

“No. Hell no. He was always making passes at me and grabbing me. Hodges had that Madonna/Whore things going on in his head. A girl was either a virgin until marriage or a whore. Plus we’re not like him, you know the religion thing, so he just assumed I was a whore.”

“But you didn’t have sex with him.”

“I know. That makes me a whore. He called any girl who wouldn’t have sex with him a whore.”

“What an asshole.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. I mean, if the guy had asked me to go see a movie or go for a walk or just spent time talking that would have been different but he was just all over me like…yuck. He really called you? I can’t believe he’d have the gall to do that. Asshole.”

After we got off the phone with the promise of a lunch date later in the week I got to thinking about my own kids.

I’d spoken with both my daughter and son about sexual predators. I’ve done the best to teach them not to be bully bait. I’ve taught them to stand up for themselves and for others.

From experience I knew that bullies never grow up and most don’t change. 

Hodge never got the answer he wanted. Over the years Beth had a few close calls with sexual predators but she always ended up safe either by being with friends or using physical force to get out of it (exactly twice as she told me.) That didn’t include unwanted advances by guys like Hodge. And even though Hodge didn’t use force it still hurt emotionally that he’d think so little of her or of any girl.

I wanted to pound the crap out of him. Then I thought about how many other women out there who thought the guy was an asshole. That made me smile. Spread the word ladies, spread the word.

That evening after work I talked to my wife about it. She shook her head and said she’d had similar experiences. More anger surged through my brain, then sadness deep in my soul.

We all judge others. We all make assumptions. We all call names even if it isn’t out loud. We all talk behind the backs of others. Maybe we need to stop. It isn’t easy. It isn’t even practical.

Anyway, if you see Hodge Williams call him and an asshole and tell him that Beth and Bart say hello.

~ end

All Hallows Eve

On a crisp October night,

Eve, a girl of singular beauty and spirit,

refused as the 5th daughter to marry

a man

not of her choice.

It was a good match,

for someone else,

but not for her.

The thought of living under his roof,

be it in luxury,

made her think that she was

nor more than property

or a child

or something other than herself.

The idea of him touching her

or going dying in childbirth

like her sister

made her ill.

All Hallows Eve

All Hollows Eve

 

So lovely Eve, the dark eyed girl with the musical laugh, walked out into the night to the old church yard. There she met the nephew of her neighbor, a young man with golden hair and happy blue eyes. He dried her tears with a rose scented handkerchief and told her that her fate was hers.

Eve said she would marry him, because he’d been such a good friend over the years, but he declined. At least he declined then, because he wanted her love, not her gratitude for helping her escape.

She wept in his arms over what would happen when she returned home and an engagement was announced. The wedding was already in the planning to the man her father had chosen.

The nephew of her neighbor, her friend told her, “One day there will be places where women have choices to live their lives as they wish. They’ll own their own bodies and not have to give in to the will of any man or law. They will love and create and explore and think free thoughts without fear.  One day women will not be considered the weaker sex because they are not weak. Women have never been weak. It is the fear in the heart of men that keeps women in servitude. It is their very biology that men fear.”

“How do you know that? It sounds like a fantastic dream of an idiot,” she cried.

“It will take a long long time but I can take you there. We can start now. But that means you must come with me, far far away.”

And so on an October night, as the ghosts swirled around like so much cigar smoke trails, Eve took the cold hand of her mysterious friend and left into the night.

Last night Eve called me with news from the boys. The boys being our two sons Randy (belongs to Eve) and Garrett (my son) who are now at college. Randy told hilarious tales of professors, fellow students, dogs on the beach and girls they’d met. Then he asked his mom to send his orange plaid pants and his purple brocade vest. Randy, the ultimate California surfer dude guy, likes to dress up in funny vintage clothes when he is feeling comfortable – or wants to do some major flirting with girls.

Eve is still with Vince, her neighbor’s nephew. Vampires love long and true, even if their hearts are cold and rarely go pitter patter.

For all of the women and girls in the world, with all my heart and soul, I wish you freedom for your body, your heart and your soul. Let us all say no to the evils that people do to each other in the name of power, tradition and misplaced religion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman