37. not necessarily consensual: horizontal with a sexual assault survivor
This is horizontal, the podcast about sex, love, and relationships of all kinds, recorded while lying down. On horizontal, we make our private conversations public, for their shame-dispelling, loneliness-diminishing, and connection-cultivating properties. As listener ghostheart put it in their silver-tongued review, this is the podcast that takes you into my bed and lets your ears watch as I unzip intimate conversations. In the second part of this episode, recorded in early October on my horizontal does america road trip, I lie down with Kennedy in Omaha, Nebraska. Horizontal does america was a 2-month long, 10,700 mile road trip and recording tour that I enjoyed during October and November of 2017. I miss being on the road! Kennedy is the young wife of my college friend, Thom. The last time I visited Thom was on my first cross country road trip, in 2009. He was single and frustrated and working as a bartender. Now, he has a two year old, a house, a truly delightful wife, and he teaches carpentry at a magnet high school. It’s like seeing the end of a movie where you were really rooting for the tortured underdog hero, and then you get to see the movie after the credits, where the character makes a life out of what he’s always wanted. I’m so happy that he’s happy. At 20 years old, Kennedy is a mother, a college student, a giver of care, a seeker, a brave and humble warrior. She is a survivor of sexual assault who would prefer not to use the words “victim,” “assault,” or “survivor.” She doesn't wish to identify with victimhood, or run the risk of people seeing that as her whole identity. This is a prime example of a great sickness in our society, that a woman who is harmed, is likely to be blamed for having been harmed, and then further judged and blamed for using the term “victim” to accurately describe the role forced upon her by sexual assault. I am appalled and deeply saddened that Kennedy should even had to worry about this. It’s only a small part of the story of Kennedy - but it is a part of that story. And we know that silence doesn't help. We know that silence and secrecy have caused women to suffer more egregiously than their wounds ever necessitated. We know that silence and secrecy has kept many of us from receiving proper treatment for trauma. We know that silence and secrecy degrades our mental health. We don't want this to happen anymore. Not to any girls. Not to any women. Not to any trans folx. Not to any. One. We want freedom. We want the liberty to express our sexuality in any way that feels right and meaningful and joyous to us. We want the liberty to love and fuck and marry whomever we wish to love and fuck, and marry, whenever we wish to love and fuck and marry them. We have the right to speak aloud about the things that have happened to us. To paraphrase the writer Anne Lamott, and I think about his all the time, “If they wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” My wish for us: is that we continue, unabashedly, to put forth our own stories in the hopes that others may not need to live in shame. I am deeply honored by the generosity required for Kennedy to share her vulnerability with me, and by extension, with all of you. I hope you feel it, and you honor her for it, too. In the first part of our episode, titled "you can make a human: horizontal with a young mother," we discussed topics that have never before been broached on the podcast — placenta fajitas, childbirth and misogyny, bodily fluids, being a young mother, and marrying a 36 year-old at 18 In this second half of the episode, we discuss sexual assault — I name it that, because that is its name. We also talk about victim-blaming and slut-shaming, trauma, comforting boys, the seven-year itch, sharing your partner, and the desexualization of mothers. Then Kennedy tells me a story about the first time she kissed a girl. I’m pretty sure you want to lie down with us. *** If you are moved by this work, become a part of it through Patreon.com/horizontalwithlila — if you aren't familiar with it, Patreon is a life changer for independent artists with the desire to make lawless, uncensored, and undilutedwork. It allows each of you to become a patron of the horizontal arts, and to gain access in various ways to this process of spreading intimacy. You can become a patron at the base level for $2 a month, and the awards get more sumptuous as you offer more! *** Credits! Time for some credit. This episode was edited by Chad Michael Snavely, podcast maven. Check out his entire roster by heading to ChadMichael.com. My lovely intro music was created by the nicest rock star in the world, Alan Markley. He's on Instagram as plastic cannons. The horizontal cover art was illustrated by Shana Shay, and her playful, sensual work can be found on 99 designs.