Recently two friends told me about their experiences of childhood sexual abuse.  I was angry and sad but not surprised.  Sometimes I feel as though I am drowning in a river of sexual violence (and by violence I mean the literal, physical kind, but also the emotional kind, the kind done by words and, just as bad, by silences).  It makes me want to scream and rage.  It’s at the point where I feel like I need a word to describe the point in the evolution of a female friendship when stories of sexual assault are exchanged.  It’s that routine.

It reminded me of a piece I once read by Katie Roiphe in which she insisted that she “would know if one in four of (her) friends had been raped.”  It stuck in my mind because of the violence of my reaction: I wanted to sneer at her that no, you wouldn’t.  I wanted to reply, have you asked?  The proportion of my friends is far higher than one in four.  Granted, it’s not exactly a random sample; I tend to gravitate toward the damaged and the scarred, young women who’ve lived hard and thus are more likely to have histories of trauma and violation.  I can’t believe that my friends are all that unique though.  Truly, I wish I could.


Girlfriends to the Front

A friend and I were recently discussing dedicating a day to the celebration of female friendships.  Kind of like mother’s and father’s days.  Nothing political (overtly anyway – because how can celebrating the ways women relate and connect and support each other not be political in this world of catfights and Mean Girls?), just a day for girlfriends in the non-lesbian sense to spend time together, spoil each other, and say the things that might normally go unspoken: I love you, you’re important to me, I couldn’t do this without you.  I don’t know who I’d be without you.  It just seems wrong that romance gets all the ritual and put on this pedestal above friendship even though friends can be just as valuable as partners and shape you just as much.  The women in our lives, they put so much time and energy into building and maintaining these friendships, sometimes across years and continents, and it feels like that should be acknowledged.  That kind of devotion deserves to be named and celebrated.  Honored, really.