Trigger Warnings Part 2
God likes to make sure I have the lesson by giving me a practical application of the things I write about. So soon after I published the last post, I had an experience. I had been invited to see the Rocky Horror Show, which is something I’ve wanted to do since high school. I’ve seen the movie a couple times, but both times was either talking to other people or by myself and so not really all that into it. So we went to the show. I was gifted with a ticket, for which I was very grateful. I let them put the V on my forehead with bright red lipstick. I greeted several members of the congregation (you know who you are!) and laughed and had a great time during the first half. I talked to the producer during the intermission and was dared to wear the V to service then next morning. I was all in on that one – what harm could it do? Plus the producer said he’d make a donation if I did it.
Then the second half started. It begins with a scene in which Frank-N-Furter crawls into bed with first Janet and then Brad. Now, I know this is meant to be a comedy. I know the original show came out in 1975. I know the transvestite Doctor is a character that is meant to be over-the-top sexualized. But during that scene, I got triggered. The scene (in my mind) exposes the rape culture that we live in. Even though both characters protest, even though Janet indicates she’s expecting her fiancé rather than this stranger, the Doctor engages continues the sexual assault.
Maybe it’s because I’ve worked with children who have a history of sexual assault that doesn’t look like the stranger-offering-candy story. Maybe it’s because of the latest political scandal that exposes a candidate’s attitude towards women as sexual objects. Maybe it’s just because I’m me and have the training and experience that I have, but that scene triggered me to the point that I had trouble paying attention to the rest of the show. I considered leaving but didn’t want to be rude. That in and of itself is part of the cultural attitude that American women deal with and participate in – not speaking up because it might be seen as rude.
As I said in my last post, my opinion is not really the point. The point is my consciousness and what I am able to learn from my experiences. So I didn’t wear the V on Sunday. I didn’t refer to the experience on Sunday because I was still trying to get my balance back. I don’t think less of the others who were there, or who participated in the show, in any way. I just realize that this show is not something I’ll ever need to go to again, and that I can share my reasons if asked.
And at the same time, I can ask that others consider what we might need to change in our behavior and thinking in order to create a world where sexual assault is the rare occurrence rather than the experience of most of the women I know. The statistics say that one in five American women will suffer from attempted or completed rape. Those are just the cases that go reported. Those are just the cases that include actual rape as opposed to catcalling, groping, threatening and all the other stuff that happens. I’m willing to give up certain forms of entertainment in order to let those experiences disappear from our culture.
As always, feel free to comment and share your own experience.