Monday, November 20, 2017

I Have Become an Angry Feminist: Now Let's Talk

I used to stay out of things. I used to keep my opinions to myself. I used to believe everything I was told if it came from any sort of authority. If I read something contrary to those beliefs, I'd refute it. I accepted the beliefs of the adults around me. I studied under their guidance, questioned their facts but never the foundations.

But now I'm an adult. Ignore the fact that I still have a ton of stuffed animals and that I watch My Little Pony and color with crayons and read kids' books.

I'm an adult. I'm a woman. I'm an asexual. I'm biromantic. I'm a feminist. I'm a student. I'm trailer park trash. I'm white. I'm a victim of sexual assault and rape. I'm a survivor of sexual assault and rape. I'm a survivor of suicide. I'm mentally ill. I'm chronically and majorly depressed. I'm socially anxious. I'm a recovering cutter. I'm a student. I'm a researcher. I'm a dancer. I'm a choreographer. I'm a musician. I'm a crazy cat lady. I'm poor. I'm a human.

I have struggled with so many things, and for the most part struggled alone. I spit out things on this blog but rarely talk about to anyone, and when I do it's probably because I'm drunk (sorry if you've been on the other side of those conversations...).

But I will not be silent. For the sake of myself and others, I will not let issues be swept under the rug. My voice, and the voices of others, will not be silenced.

So yes, at this point, I am an angry feminist.

I am angry and upset and scared and sad.

There are so many things I want to talk about. I want to answer all of the questions and comments that have been directed at me personally as well as others.

These things need to be talked about, and not in a one-way conversation.

Let's all just sit down with some coffee or a nice cup of tea and chat about these things that are incredibly important.

Except I might have a panic attack, so my cats will have to be there too to comfort me.

--Dexter

P.S. In the spirit of conversation, ask me anything and I will do my best.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

nothing new here

It's been almost a week since I finished my film and shared it with the world. Since I conquered those fears. Or at least, faced them. Sort of. Sometimes facing doesn't equal conquering.

Fuck that. There's no such thing. Because I'm back, shaking and crying and being in general the unhealthy, dysfunctional, disabled adult I'm known for being.

I love my film, even though I get embarrassed and cringe thinking about people watching it and worry about their reactions or if they think the camera's too shaky or the editing too choppy or they don't understand something I did purposefully, which means I didn't do it purposefully enough. I do love it and I loved making it and without a doubt it helped me.

But I'm so far from functional and I hate it. Right now the idea of sex makes me want to puke. When my body enjoys it I feel betrayed and distrustful not only of whoever I'm with but of myself as well. It's not like I'm a slut or anything. At least, I don't think so.

That doesn't stop me from feeling so fucking dirty. I sit here and think of just that one guy and I feel disgusting and broken, and then I think of my first boyfriend and feel worse, and then I think of my second and feel worse, and then I think of when I was just a little girl and I feel so fucking dirty and broken and twisted.

I don't have coherent thoughts right now. I don't have anything. I have nothing but myself and really that's all I ever have and oh how I hate myself. I hate this body for its physical and mental and spiritual weaknesses. I hate it for not wanting sex and I hate it for wanting it and I hate it for being so ugly and yet for still having those stupid traits that make people want to touch me in the dark and then wipe their hands clean of it.

That's victim mentality, that's survivor guilt. It has to all be my fault, doesn't it? I can't find another reason. Wouldn't that make more sense than there being a seemingly endless supply of people who just want to put their hands on me and maybe don't mind my brain so much, but it's not worth much on its own?

I must be the problem. I must be doing something wrong to attract these people, to let them do what they want, to fool myself into thinking they're something or not or that I'm not something I am. I'm just stupid enough to convince myself it won't happen again, that I'll be stronger, better, more mature, more assertive. That I'll know what I want and I'll say it. That I'll actually do something, anything.

I haven't even technically started grad school and already I just know I'm not going to make it. Sometimes I feel at home here, simply because it's a beautiful community of people who love dance and love art, but I don't feel like belong. They're all passionate and willing to speak. I'm passionate and willing to do nothing but sit and work in silence and solitude. I'm either weird or creepy or stupid or "not right in the head," which is technically true.

There's this conference going on right now for graduate students that essentially is preparing us for being teaching assistants or teachers or whatever other responsibilities that will be thrown our way during grad school (and beyond). Today there was an extremely long segment about discrimination and sexual misconduct.

While without a doubt that thing is needed (which in itself is just sad and awful), I also had a very hard time staying in my seat. At that  point I was doing my best to lose myself in a book, blatantly reading during a lecture. Trying not to shake too much or to bite the skin of my thumb or to pinch the inside of my arm too hard.

Why am I trying to get an MA and be a professor and be a real person?

It's obvious I'm unreliable and weak and dependent. I can't take care of myself and stress gets the better of me far too easily. When I'm stressed, I get even weaker and more prone to panic over things that under normal conditions I might be able to handle.

But I'm just so fucking broken and gross now. There is no part of me that has not been touched by someone else. There's nothing I have left to give. How are you supposed to tell someone that they're getting used goods? A damaged product? Someone who is graysexual, which for me means means sometimes I like sex but also sometimes I might freak out and suddenly burst into tears, so just please don't take it personally? Who sometimes has a hard time distinguishing between actual desire and the compulsion to please? Between passion and obligation?

I have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about anymore. Long story short:

I hate myself. Looks like that will never change.

--Dexter

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Consent

For those don't follow/stalk me on social media, I wanted to share the dance for film I recently completed. I made it for myself, but also for the world. For those who are braver than they think and stronger than they know, for those who have to be brave just to exist. And for those who don't realize just how many of us there are.

Consent.

--Dexter

Monday, August 14, 2017

Conquering Fears


Today I started editing an independent dance for film that I worked on over the summer. I filmed right before I moved, and haven't had a chance to fool around with it until now, nearly three weeks later. I was having the time of my life. I hadn't done anything creative in ages and, as always, forgot just how amazing it makes me feel. Fooling around and editing is cool and fun and frustrating and time consuming - really just like any artistic endeavor. I love it.

This film is something I've been trying to make for almost three years now. Every time I choreographed in undergrad, I would start out with this topic in mind, but end up switching. It just wasn't time and I wasn't ready. But as my time in Hattiesburg, MS came to a close, I realized that my time to make this project was also running out. And in some ways, doing it as an independent project gives me more control. I don't have a deadline (which also means it'll take forever, but oh well) so I can take my time, and I don't have to share it with anyone before I'm ready.

This project is about sexual assault, mostly stemming from my own experience. Everything about the process was pretty terrifying, from creating the movement to sharing it with others. And of course, the brilliant idea to film it in the very place where I was date-raped.

I'd been by this place plenty of times before because it was right next to the tutoring center where I worked for a semester. It always made me nervous and I always walked quickly, but I could still do it. Long after my assaulter was gone, I still expected to see him hanging out there, waiting. Even when I stopped passing by, the place is engraved in my memory in incredible detail. I remember the dim lighting, the smell of a far off cigarette, the feeling of concrete. I remember studying for a dance history exam I had the next morning, I remember that it was slightly too warm for my sweater, I remember him trying to play "What Does the Fox Say" on his guitar.

I returned to this place almost four years later to see if it would actually be a good film site. I went by myself instead of waiting for the friend who said he'd go with me. It was exactly as I remembered it, minus the assaulter in the guise of a friend. It still made me nervous, and looking at it from the point of a videographer only gave me enough emotional distance to look around a bit before speed-walking back to my car.

And I showed up again the next day to actually film. I had my chill pills ready in case I needed them. Some strong coffee to give me comfort. The dancers who laughed and did stupid things together. And a job to do.

That day I conquered that place. I turned my terror into art (who knows if it'll be good or bad, though) and created something new to remember and associate with the site. Not necessarily to replace the bad, but to truly put it in the past.

Then, as I was packing for the big move, I found the ginormous sweater I was wearing when I was assaulted. I couldn't look at it without thinking about that night, but I still loved it enough to keep. I live in the south anyway, so it's not like I had a lot of opportunities to wear it. In the spirit of conquering old fears, I made a rather popular instagram post about it, challenging all of those people who say victims are asking for it by dressing provocatively.

So I was asking my friend to rape me because I was wearing jeans, a humongous sweater, and Doctor Who hat that hid most of my head?

Yeah, okay. Sure.

I love that sweater and I will always remember that night when I look at it, but that won't stop me from wearing it. It's not the sweater's fault and it's not mine, and I've had plenty of good memories in that sweater as well. Why can't those be as memorable? It's not really fair.

I was thinking about all of this while in the shower not too long ago, feeling pretty proud of myself for finally facing a few of my fears. I mean yeah, I'm still super duper anxious in public and don't like people behind me and get freaked out if people try to touch me too much and distrust anyone who claims they like me for something other than sex, but I'd still done something.

Then I go get on Facebook and end up clicking on an article about a woman who was assaulted and some of the horrifying replies she got after sharing her story. And I got scared again.

I am very, very honored to be surrounded by such good people who support and love and respect me, and yet all it takes are a few shaming comments to rip me apart. It's like I think I'm building a brick wall but then it turns to tissue paper; it barely takes a breath to make it disappear.

I feel very alone here in Florida. I have two friends and they're both great. But I'm only just starting to get to know them, and like I said: I just don't trust people very much.

None of my recent posts seem to make much sense anymore or have a decent conclusion, but hey, that's life.

Anyway, I'm still working on the film and grad school starts in one week. I like Tallahassee despite the roads' tendencies to switch around and make no sense. I miss Cane's, but they have Dunkin Donuts here and Steak n Shake, so it's not like I don't have access to comfort food. I have my two friends for now.

That's all I got right now.

--Dexter

ps. This shirt technically refers to suicide and came from Live Through This, so go check it out cause it's cool.