Tuesday, March 21, 2006

North Country

I watched the movie North Country the other evening, a true story about a woman fighting for decent treatment by men in the coal mines when the men didn't want women around but were forced to by a Supreme Court decision. In the movie, Charlize Theron portrayed a woman who had a fighting spirit - she was not a husky hardened woman like some who worked the mines, but a feminine woman with a interminable spirit. She refused to let the men treat her - and the other women - in such an inhumane way even when the other women were too frightened to stand up for themselves against the abuse.

What wrenched my gut was the rape scene - not by the coal mine workers, but a flashback of her schoolteacher when she was 16 years old. Her character had sued the coal mine, and the defendant lawyer tried the "nuts and sluts" approach to discrediting her story by saying she had many sexual partners and didn't even know who the father of her son was (as if this had anything to do with the abuse by the workers). She never revealed to her father until the trial that her son's father was her schoolteacher who had raped her. And her boyfriend at the time, who currently worked at the coal mine, witnessed it but lied on the stand and told everyone that the sexual act was consensual. The plaintiff's lawyer finally got the witness to admit she was raped.

It - of course - made me sob as I remembered the rape I endured (and have written about before on the blog) at age 15. The movie didn't explicitly make the connection but I relate to her adamant insistence of fighting injustice even when it seems an impossible battle. In many cases, standing up for justice and truth and integrity has not gotten me ahead, though it has gotten me out of bad situations. But I also related to the fact that the witness denied it and blamed the victim - that happened to me.

A few years back, I randomly met the wife of the guy I was on the date with that night. His first words to his wife, after she relayed that she'd met me, were, "Was that the girl I dumped on her front lawn?" (indeed, yes). And then she relayed that he'd mentioned that I'd had sex with someone else on a date with him. (When in reality I was raped and yet he blamed me - though I was utterly passed out beyond the ability to walk). Interesting how he could not recognize that it was obviously a rape and - like me - had denied the power of that truth for that many years. He felt awful in retrospect but how strong is our denial sometimes!


Melody S. said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that painful experience. It gave me chills to think back on how many times I put myself in potentially dangerous situations, or could have easily been taken advantage of in my youth. There but for the grace of God go I.......Yes, denial is a tempting place to go for some people, but the truly strong choose not to. I admire your ability to recognize and fight the injustices you see. I try to in my every day life & yes, it gets me in some hot water at times. As I get older I'm trying to reach out & do something about the things that affect others, not just me. Thanks again for sharing!

The Bohemians said...

Some years ago, my friend Angie was gang raped by three men who broke into her apartment.

I just couldn't eat or drink for close to a week. This is a friend of mine from the US, and I was many thousand miles away in India. She was in college at that time.

We have never met for real, I got to know Angie in an online poetry cafe.

At that time, Cait Collins, the editor of www.the-hold.com, told me: Kid, Angie will never get over it, she will get through it.

Angie is a school teacher now, and she got married on the 13th of this month.