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Monday, 22 April 2019

The one confronts us with a bad person, the other with a bad world.

What Went Wrong at New York City Ballet

Amid allegations of sexual harassment and violence, the company is reckoning with its tone on and off the stage.

By Joan Acocella

February 11, 2019

Probably the most cherished old tale about George Balanchine is the one in which the mother of a girl who had auditioned for him comes up to him later and asks whether her daughter will become a professional dancer. “La danse, Madame,” Balanchine replied, “c’est une question morale.”

You could say that he dodged the question, but many of his admirers would say that he answered it directly and accurately. Dance, by virtue of its energy and its precision—and, often, its mounting intensity—brings us close to what many people in the world once looked for, and many still do, in religion. Music operates in the same way, of course, but most dance includes music, and it has something else as well: the body. On the dance stage, human beings place themselves before us much as, in old Italian frescoes, souls came before God: without words, without excuses, without much covering of any kind. They are more or less as they were when they came out of their mothers: flesh and energy, now with the addition of skill. That composite stands for what they are as moral beings, and what, in consequence, they tell us the world is. The better the dancer’s first arabesque penché—the more exact, the more spirited, the more singing its line—the more he or she will embody the promise of the ancient Greeks, lasting at least up to Keats, that beauty, truth, and virtue are inseparable, that we live in a good world.

 Such thoughts, however, are unlikely to have occurred to Alexandra Waterbury, a nineteen-year-old model and a former student of the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet’s affiliate academy, on the morning of May 15, 2018. She woke up in the apartment of her twenty-eight-year-old boyfriend, Chase Finlay, a principal dancer at N.Y.C.B., who was away at the time, and thought to check her e-mail on his computer. What she found on the screen was a series of photographs of women’s private parts, including her own, plus a brief clip of her having sex with Finlay.

 According to the complaint in a lawsuit that she later filed, there were text messages, too. Finlay, sending someone a photograph of Waterbury naked, asked, “You have any pictures of girls you’ve f*cked? I’ll send you some . . . ballerina girls I’ve made scream and squirt.” The exchanges included several participants, notably two other N.Y.C.B. principals, Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro, and a young donor, Jared Longhitano. “We should get like half a kilo”—of cocaine, one assumes—​“and pour it over the . . . girls and just violate them,” Longhitano wrote to Catazaro and Finlay. “I bet we could tie some of them up and abuse them like farm animals.” “Or like the sluts they are,” Finlay rejoined. “Yeah,” Longhitano wrote back. “I want them to watch me destroy one of their friends. And they know they’re next. I bet we could triple team.” Finlay also reported that he had just “fucked a 20-year-old ballerina and her sister! That was my first threesome with family members. It was incredible!” In another thread, a former student at the ballet school thanked Finlay for sending a picture of himself and Waterbury engaged in a sex act: “I can’t stop looking at Alex’s tits lol.”

Waterbury got herself a lawyer, Jordan K. Merson, one of the attorneys who had just obtained a settlement in which Michigan State University agreed to pay five hundred million dollars to young gymnasts molested by Larry Nassar. Merson sought a settlement for Waterbury, but N.Y.C.B. refused, and there the matter appeared to rest, until the end of August, when the company announced that Finlay had resigned, and that it had suspended Ramasar and Catazaro after receiving allegations of “inappropriate communications.” A week later, Waterbury’s lawyer filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the pain and humiliation she had suffered, together with the damage to her reputation and, therefore, to her job prospects. Soon afterward, Ramasar and Catazaro were fired. (A lawyer for Finlay called the claims “distorted and inaccurate,” and Catazaro’s lawyer said that he would be seeking to have the complaint dismissed. Longhitano declined to comment, and a lawyer for Ramasar argued that one of the women had consented to having her photographs shared.)

Furthermore, Waterbury alleged that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet knew about this misconduct, or should have. The suit described a party that Finlay and other members of City Ballet had recently thrown at a hotel room in Washington, D.C., inviting underage girls, whom they “plied with drugs and alcohol.” The damage to the hotel came to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But, according to the lawsuit, the hosts of the party, though they had to pay for the repairs to the hotel property, were not otherwise punished; instead, they were simply advised to confine such behavior to New York City, where “it would be easier to control.” This, apparently, did not mean control of the behavior but control of the repercussions—that is, damage control. By means of such tolerance, the suit claimed, N.Y.C.B. signalled to a group of male dancers “that they could degrade, demean, mistreat and abuse, assault, and batter women without consequence.” (An N.Y.C.B. spokesperson called the lawsuit baseless and said that, far from having “condoned, encouraged, or fostered” the men’s behavior, it had investigated the matter and taken “immediate and appropriate action.”)

Losing these dancers was a serious sacrifice for N.Y.C.B. Before the scandal, it had had only fourteen male principals. Now, in one fell swoop, it lost three, and two of them, Ramasar and Finlay, were stars. Accordingly, some people speculated that additional revelations might be coming, and that the company was trying to cover itself. Sexual misconduct in a ballet troupe, just as at the Metropolitan Opera or at Miramax or in the Roman Catholic Church, may be judged less severely by the public than the failure of those in charge to punish or remove the malefactors. The one confronts us with a bad person, the other with a bad world.

In other ways, too, N.Y.C.B. tried to prop up its reputation. At the company’s fall fashion gala, in September of last year, the curtain rose not on a ballet but on a large, loose collection of the troupe’s dancers, in street clothes—people like you and me, people who presumably did not fantasize about tying women up like farm animals. Stepping out from among them, Teresa Reichlen, a seraphic-looking principal dancer wearing a dress that covered her from neck to ankle, delivered a speech, reading it, modestly, from a printout. “We the dancers of New York City Ballet,” she began, in an echo of the Constitution’s We-the-People, “will not put art before common decency or allow talent to sway our moral compass. . . . Each of us standing here tonight is inspired by the values essential to our art form: dignity, integrity, and honor.” That is, what happened was just the work of a few bad apples. Management totted up the donations that Jared Longhitano had made to City Ballet and gave the money to the organization Women in Need. The amount was only twelve thousand dollars, but the institution was doing what it could to assert that it still embraced the faith of Balanchine. Dance is a moral matter.

There was much at N.Y.C.B. to suggest that this was not true—above all the career of the man who had been the company’s boss for the preceding thirty-five years. Peter Martins, a Dane who was trained at the Royal Danish Ballet’s excellent school, joined City Ballet in 1969 and was a sensation—beautiful of face and form, and with big, wonderfully precise feet. He was also six feet two, which meant that he could partner just about any woman in the company, and he was superb at doing so. Women danced better when they danced with him. His partnership with Suzanne Farrell, many would say, was the starring act of N.Y.C.B. in the late seventies.

 Ballet historians still do not agree on how, or whether, Balanchine, as his health began to fail, chose Martins to succeed him as the company’s artistic director. Martins says that Balanchine telephoned him early one morning in the summer of 1978, invited him to breakfast, and offered him the job. But Balanchine never anointed him publicly. After the great man died, a number of his close associates—including Betty Cage, the company manager—questioned whether any such offer had ever been made and said that Balanchine’s choice would have been Jerome Robbins, whom he had appointed as a ballet master in 1969. The board of directors diplomatically named both men “co-ballet-masters in chief.” This arrangement continued—with Robbins working mainly on his own ballets and Martins looking after the rest of the repertory—until 1990, when Robbins resigned from the company and Martins became its sole artistic director, a position that he retained until last year, when he retired during an investigation of his treatment of the troupe’s dancers.

 People trying to assess Martins’s career should keep in mind that, in the history of ballet, he had what was probably the worst case, ever, of big shoes to fill. Balanchine was an artist on the order of Bach or Tolstoy, in the sense that he had a long career, an enormous range, and a kind of poetic force that made people, when they saw his ballets, think about their lives differently, more seriously. If, at the end of time, anyone ever congratulates us on being the human race, he will be one of the prime exhibits. By contrast, Peter Martins, however beautifully he danced, was, at best, a middling choreographer, until, in the late eighties, perhaps under the strain of being compared with Balanchine night after night, he became something worse, a very pissed-off person.

Even early on, there was a spirit of antagonism in his work. His first piece for New York City Ballet, “Calcium Light Night” (1978), to music by Charles Ives, was a severe, sarcastic, and also rather witty duet, with the woman and the man taking turns dragging each other around the stage on their bottoms. This was the opposite of Balanchine’s woman-worshipping duets. The element of aggression might have been put down to youthful iconoclasm, but, as the years passed, it did not diminish; it grew. In 1988, Martins premièred a new piece, “Tanzspiel,” to a score by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. In it, we see a lone man coming forward. As in a Balanchine ballet, a woman (or the ghost of a woman, or the memory of a woman) approaches him from behind. But then, instead of mesmerizing him, she grabs him, hangs on him, falls to the ground in desperation. He fleetingly responds, but mostly he recoils. Eventually, just to get rid of her, it seems, he strangles her, then dances around the stage with her lifeless body.

 “Tanzspiel” was talked about long afterward. Part of what made it shocking was its apparent echo of the so-called “preppie murder,” two years before, which was given huge play in the New York press. In August, 1986, two private-school graduates—Jennifer Levin, who was eighteen, and Robert Chambers, Jr., a year older—were having sex in Central Park in the middle of the night when she died of strangulation. Chambers’s story was that she had pressed him for “rough sex” and was killed accidentally when he tried to stop her from hurting him. His defense team portrayed Levin as sexually rapacious, and, when the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of murder, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Less than two weeks before the first performance of Martins’s ballet, with its depiction of female sexual demands provoking male violence, Chambers received a sentence of five to fifteen years.

Presumably for ticket buyers in search of milder material, Martins later created versions of Russian classics. Each was curiously unsatisfying. “The Sleeping Beauty” (1991) was radically shortened, and it had a strange ending, in which the crowns of the King and the Queen are removed from their heads and transferred to the Princess and her consort—an action that was hard to interpret as anything other than Martins telling his audience that they should stop pining for Balanchine and get happy with his successor. In 1999, the company danced Martins’s “Swan Lake,” a ballet that traditionally ends with the Swan Queen and the Prince drowning themselves in the lake and, in many versions, going to Heaven together. Martins simply has the Swan Queen walk out on the Prince. The message seemed to be: Isn’t this the way it happens in real life? People get together; they have problems; they split up. So what? In 2007, Martins made a new, brutal “Romeo and Juliet.” In Shakespeare’s play, Lord Capulet, furious over his daughter’s rejection of his marriage plans for her, says, “My fingers itch”—in other words, I feel like hitting you. In Martins’s ballet, Capulet actually did hit her, delivering a slap on the face that echoed through the theatre. (Within weeks of Martins’s retirement, the slap was removed.)

But it wasn’t just the revised stories—people deposing their parents and smacking one another around—that made Martins’s work look ruthless. More serious was the tone of the dancing in the company’s storyless ballets. Balanchine ballets that had seemed to be about the most exalted matters in our lives now sat cold and dry on the stage. The dancers appeared to be concealing their performances, as if they were afraid that we would see them defacing these revered works.

The situation was worse in Martins’s own ballets. The dancers often looked like body snatchers. When Martins had a success, it was usually with something fast and furious—for example, his “Harmonielehre” (2000) and “Hallelujah Junction” (2002), both to frenetic scores by John Adams—where the steps were so hard that no one expected the dancers to do more than get through them. The company rose to the challenge, and it was quite a sight—you felt as though your face were being scraped off. The experience didn’t stay with you afterward, though. I remember having a conversation about Martins in the late eighties with one of N.Y.C.B.’s female stars, who told me, “He hates ballerinas. He hates beauty. He hates Balanchine.”

In 1982, Martins began dating Darci Kistler, almost twenty years his junior, a tall, sweet-faced blond dancer from Southern California whom Balanchine had plucked from the School of American Ballet and installed in the company two years earlier, when she was only sixteen. She and Martins were together on and off throughout the eighties, and they married in 1991. One night the following year, the police in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.C.B.’s summer headquarters, got a call from Kistler, reporting that, after an evening out, she and Martins had had a fight, and that he had beaten her and thrown her into the next room, cutting her ankle. Martins was charged with third-degree assault, and spent the night in jail. Kistler later dropped the charges, though she never withdrew her account of what happened that night. Readers should bear in mind that Kistler was not only Martins’s wife; she was one of the leading female dancers in his company, and was often described as Balanchine’s last muse. And Martins damaged her leg, the thing on which a dancer dances. That’s like damaging a pianist’s hand.

 Before Martins married Kistler, he had a relationship of legendary storminess with Heather Watts, an N.Y.C.B. principal. “I saw him pick her up and slam her into a cement wall,” John Clifford, another principal, reported. Gelsey Kirkland, in her 1986 memoir, “Dancing on My Grave,” recalled watching Martins drag Watts up and down a flight of stairs.

 Given the notoriety of such episodes, it’s remarkable that it was not until December, 2017, that N.Y.C.B. and S.A.B. announced that they had begun an investigation into Martins’s behavior. While this was going on, Martins took a leave of absence and a four-person committee was appointed to manage artistic operations. (He was also suspended from teaching his weekly class at the school.) Why was he finally being questioned? Because, the newspapers reported, S.A.B. had received an anonymous letter containing “general, nonspecific allegations of sexual harassment” by him. A good deal of Martins’s treatment of women was a matter of public record, so there was something odd about an investigation prompted by something as easy to discredit as an anonymous letter making unspecific allegations.

 Soon, however, more dancers—and not only women—began to speak to the press about mistreatment by Martins. Jeffrey Edwards, a very refined soloist, told Robin Pogrebin, of the Times, that in 1993 he was physically abused by Martins. He said that he lodged a complaint with the company’s general manager and with the dancers’ union, describing the episode in detail, but that no real action was taken. Edwards soon left the company and now teaches at Juilliard. A former child dancer named Victor Ostrovsky recalled a rehearsal in 1994, when he was a twelve-year-old student at S.A.B. He was horsing around with some other children in the ballet when Martins grabbed him by the neck. “He’s yanking me around to the left and to the right,” Ostrovsky told Pogrebin. “I felt like he was piercing my muscle. I started crying and sobbing profusely.” He soon left S.A.B.: “I was depressed; I was embarrassed. He assaulted me onstage in front of the whole cast.”

In an interview with Salon, Wilhelmina Frankfurt, a tall, commanding N.Y.C.B. dancer from the seventies and eighties, recalled an incident, mid-performance, in which Martins, she said, “pulled me into his dressing room and exposed himself to me. And I had on a tutu. I mean, with an American flag on it, and I ran out because I had to do the finale.” Another encounter she had with Martins, she said, “is so big I don’t think I can talk about it.” The company had no human-resources department for her to go to, and, even years later, once the investigation was under way, she’d been unable to give her version of events. The investigators, she said, would not allow her to bring a witness unless both she and the witness signed nondisclosure agreements. (The company disputes her account.)

The accusations did not always involve force. A number of dancers have claimed simply that Martins slept around among the female dancers, and that roles were often allotted accordingly. This, alas, is a time-honored tradition in ballet companies—and Balanchine’s career was marked, even shaped, by serial infatuations—but it is no longer honored, and managements are now scrambling to institute codes of conduct.

N.Y.C.B.’s investigation had been in progress for only a few weeks when Martins, who was then seventy-one, seems to have tired of the whole business. (Or did the board finally tire of him?) In any case, on January 1, 2018, a few days after being arrested for drunken driving, he announced his retirement. He still denied all the allegations against him, and he expressed confidence that he would be exonerated, but he wanted, he later said, to “allow those glorious institutions”—New York City Ballet and its school—“to move past the turmoil that resulted from these charges.”

Six weeks later, N.Y.C.B. and S.A.B. issued a statement that the Martins investigation “did not corroborate the allegations of harassment or violence both made in the anonymous letter and reported in the media.” No report on the inquiry was ever published, so it is impossible to know how this surprising judgment was reached. And although certain important dancers stood by Martins, the news that he never did any of the things that others had reported was received with considerable skepticism. As Victor Ostrovsky asked, how was it possible that the rest of the cast could recall nothing of what Martins did to him, as a child, at that rehearsal? “They all knew what happened,” he said. Many people in the dance world were disappointed that Sarah Jessica Parker, the vice-chair of N.Y.C.B.’s board of directors and a vocal feminist, had remained silent throughout the affair. (She eventually texted the Times, saying that the safety of the company’s dancers “is paramount to me.”) It was a few months after all this that Alexandra Waterbury logged on to Chase Finlay’s computer and found the photographs of the dancers he had caused to “scream and squirt.”

After Martins left, the boards of N.Y.C.B. and S.A.B. formed a search committee to find a new artistic director. Who that person should be is a mystery, not just to observers but also, no doubt, to the boards. N.Y.C.B. is different from other large ballet companies—the Bolshoi, the Paris Opera Ballet, England’s Royal Ballet—in that it has almost no history of succession. The company was created by Balanchine and his patron Lincoln Kirstein for Balanchine, to show his work. And though Jerome Robbins was eventually given significant space—perhaps a third of the troupe’s stage time—there was never any question of whose ballet company it was.

What everyone would want now is a great ballet choreographer, aided, as Balanchine was, by a superbly capable executive director and staff. But there is only one absolutely first-class ballet choreographer currently working in the United States, Alexei Ratmansky, a Russian, who is the artist-in-residence of American Ballet Theatre, across Lincoln Center’s plaza, whence he is unlikely to be seduced. Ratmansky had his fill of managing ballet companies in the five years, from 2004, that he spent as the artistic director of Moscow’s hidebound Bolshoi Ballet. His contract with A.B.T. allows him to do a good deal of freelancing at other companies, and he seems to like this.

But, however gifted Ratmansky is, no one is claiming that he is the equal of Balanchine. Furthermore, many people, for obvious reasons, have recommended that the new artistic director be a woman. The company, to its credit, has recently mounted ballets by a number of female choreographers. The executive director, Katherine Brown, is a woman. Would the audience accept an N.Y.C.B. run by two women? Why not? In the past, it was often run by two men. Lately, female City Ballet alumnae who have gone on to notable careers as teachers or administrators have been revisiting the troupe’s halls, and various names have been floated, but not on the basis of choreographic achievement. Whereas modern dance has been dominated, in large measure, by female choreographers, classical-ballet choreography is a career that in most Western countries has been all but closed to women, and this is changing only very slowly. To my knowledge, only two twentieth-century women—Bronislava Nijinska and Twyla Tharp—regularly made ballets for major international companies. So if it is hard to find a topflight ballet choreographer who is prepared to move to New York, it is even harder to find a woman who answers that description.

But a distinguished ballet company does not need to be headed by a distinguished choreographer. The example always cited is that of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Serge Diaghilev was not a choreographer at all, but he had the energy and discernment to foster young people who were. After he died, the graduates of his troupe more or less staffed the directorships of Western ballet—Léonide Massine and Bronislava Nijinska in Europe and America, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois in London, Serge Lifar in Paris, and, notably, George Balanchine in New York.

This is no doubt the model that N.Y.C.B.’s search committee has in mind: someone with taste who is willing to share the throne or, periodically, to yield it. Peter Martins made no new ballets for N.Y.C.B. during the last five years of his directorship, and one of his virtues—they should be noted—was that he could spot talent in others. He was the first company director in New York to present a ballet by Ratmansky. He also cultivated Christopher Wheeldon, N.Y.C.B.’s resident choreographer from 2001 to 2008, who is now one of the leading lights of international ballet. Wheeldon’s successor as resident choreographer is the thirty-one-year-old Justin Peck, who, whatever his title, is increasingly emerging as the artistic face of the company. Peck, who still dances as a soloist with the troupe, is a man of great skill and productivity. He seems, however, to lack a subject. His casts, even when they are not wearing sneakers, and jackets emblazoned with protest slogans, as they did in his recent “The Times Are Racing,” often seem like teen-agers, a notion that is highly vulnerable to cliché and sentimentality. The audience claps loudly for his work. He was viewed by many people as a top contender to succeed Martins, but he told Gia Kourlas, of the Times, that he didn’t want the job. It’s not hard to see why. At this point, like Ratmansky, he can have pretty much any gig he chooses. Why should he narrow his ambit?

But the audience’s receptivity to Peck is touching. They like him, above all, I think, because he cheers them up and makes them feel, after all the scandals, that something good may once again come out of New York City Ballet. And if that something good is not, in addition, wise or profound—well, any port in a storm. After all, Balanchine never said what he wanted after his death, or how he thought the company should go forward. “Après moi, le board,” he once declared, and, boy, did he know what he was talking about.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Sage Advice


Thursday, 31 January 2019

How to Keep Moths Away

Notes from The Strategist
- moth cannot eat through cotton. store in cotton zipper bags/boxes or hanging garment bags
- mothballs smell, cedar can stain. lavender is best: use sachets, hand wash garments with drops of lavender oil, and use it to refresh sachets, or spray with lavender linen water
if already present
- wash in detergent forumlated for protein fibers to remove the larvae
- place one trap (more than one confuses the moths) to prevent them for spreading
- place in -4 C for 2 weeks to kill them

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

My Feminism, By Maxine Beneba Clarke

The local women’s march is pink-dressed, determined, alive.  The cheering chanting mass streams past the inner-Sydney sights. A bold sign centre-crowd floating up on high says: I’ll see all you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matter march, right?

My feminism is intersectional, or my feminism is a lie.

Half a million knitted pussycat hats walk angry-calm on Washington. They chant: “We’re women. United. We’ll never be defeated.” My feminism is the black sister: white cap; fierce as— you know the one. There she is, nonchalantly sucking on a lollipop while bearing a hand-painted placard that says: Don’t forget, white women voted for Trump.

My feminism will be intersectional, or my feminism is done.
My feminism does not feature in the Suffragette credit-roll. My feminism is not a scroll of the places and dates white women got the vote; does not holler across the loud promo t-shirts that say:
I would rather be a rebel.
I would rather be a rebel, than a slave.

My feminism can love Emmeline Pankhurst for what she did, and still roll its eyes at Emmeline Pankhurst’s phrasing.

My feminism can respect Germaine Greer’s legacy, but detest her transphobic ways.
My feminism will be critical, and analytical, and brave.

My feminism will not reveal itself as White Feminism at 13, Queer Feminism at 25, and POC, or Aboriginal or First Peoples, or Disability Feminism if you identify, are ultra-left, are bleeding-heart, are so inclined.

My feminism will always question.
My feminism must get wise.

My feminism will not claim that nuance is divisive.
All feminism is flawed, but my feminism will try.

My feminism would not anti-think-piece Beyonce`s pregnant glow, because my feminism remembers the brown children bought and sold.
My feminism slips unseen through the bars and razor wire.
My feminism will amplify the songs of the silenced.

My feminism is pro-choice, but does not endorse Lena Dunham’s abortion wish.
My feminism says termination is not some kind of Vintage Girl Guide Collar Pin.
My feminism does not shout down pro-lifers who shame abortion, then shame abortion grief, or regret.

My feminism will be kind.
My feminism is complex.

My feminism does not complain about middleclass childcare fees, without campaigning for the women who childcare on a minimum wage index freeze.

My feminism does not go smashing glass ceilings at the same time it builds glass walls.
My feminism will be class aware, or it will have no class at all.

My feminism screams about equal marriage rights in the country where I live, while in the country of my parent’s birth, corrective rape is still a thing.
My feminism is fierce.
My feminism crossed oceans.
My feminism learnt to swim.

My feminism is uneased by unceded land; was sung by Audre Lorde; knows Wilma Pearl Mankiller.
My feminism haloed Harriet Tubman and signed the Statement at Combahee River.

My feminism says no woman left behind.
My feminism says the strongest will go find her.

My feminism’s the underground railroad out.
My feminism will ferry us through all of the doubt.
My feminism seeks to lift all women up.
My feminism must be strong enough.
My feminism is strong; fierce; burning; alive.
My feminism will be smart, intersectional and kind.
My feminism is truth: that bold sign up on high.
It’s inevitably flawed, but will always try.

My feminism can smash glass ceilings and walls.
My feminism is wondrous, and will elevate us all.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Progress

I think I've gotten to the point where I'm no longer depressed. Just still upset. There may not be very much I can do, but it's not ok. None of it is ok. 

Also this: 

Power is like money: imaginary, entirely dependent upon belief. Most of the power of institutions lies in the faith people have in them. And cynicism is also a kind of faith: the faith that nothing can change, that those institutions are corrupt beyond all accountability, immune to intimidation or appeal. Harvey Weinstein ultimately wasn’t the one enforcing the code of silence around his predations: It was all the agents and managers and friends and colleagues who warned actresses that he was too powerful to accuse.

from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/opinion/go-ahead-millennials-destroy-us.html?smid=fb-share

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

I have tried but I find that...

I am not a saint.

When you are thinking "he seems like a good guy" or "anyway there is no evidence" and "perhaps they are confused", I am remembering for a fact that facilitators are responsible for what happened to me. I'm not confused and I am not judging by how things seem. In the end you find these excuses because you want to go to the workshop. I find no excuses because for me the damage is real and already done.

I find it hard to forgive facilitators and apologists. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

I feel...

sick of the sound of my own voice. Tired of explaining. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Anne Rice & Philippa Gregory

Once when I was really, really ill, as a teenager, I was taken to the hospital. I had urinary tract infection. I think I must have been 15? Or there abouts. I had a boyfriend and was sexually active but there was no one in my life who could advise me about practical matters of sexual health. When I started peeing blood and razor blades I wondered if I had STD. I went home and took a hot bath which is about the worst thing you can do. It got worse and worse and finally I was taken to the emergency. I waited for hours and hours because it's not critical, just painful. No one gave me any pain relief. I had Anne Rice's vampire chronicles and spent those hours (four or five) sitting in a toilet cubicle next to the emergency room, in acute pain and tears, reading about vampires because it was my only escape from misery.

When I think back now on all that unhappiness I know that it's because I was abused. My years as a victim of sexual abuse made me feel worthless. I dated someone who treated me badly because that's what I felt like I deserved. I chose to do things that were bad for me because I felt worthless.

Now whenever I see Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles I think of peeing blood and razor blades and confusion and misery and self-loathing and self-pity and grief.

Now I'm in my mid thirties and it's been years since I was last depressed. I have been depressed enough times that I know just what to do. Cancel everything. Find an escape novel. Batten down the hatches and stay where I know (or think I know) I am absolutely safe. Try to avoid crying in public.

The novel series this time is The Tudor & Plantagenet bodice rippers by Philippa Gregory. I think for the rest of my life Henry the VIII will remind me of being so ground down by grief I can't get up.

Some dreams I have had give me some hope.

I dreamt that I was being taunted and abused and I hit him and this time (unlike all the previous times in my dreams) my punches connected and I had power to fight back.

I dreamt that I was on a boat with people I know and they were being mean to me, and instead of fighting or feeling hurt I held the one nearest to me and spoke gently with the others.

Sometimes I feel like I need to talk to a Christian spiritual leader of some kind - a minister or a priest. I aspire to be an instrument of peace and I aspire to love the sinner while hating the sin.

I aspire to all these things when I'm not howling in grief and crying my eyes out.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

how I feel right now

剛剛回覆一個留言的時候寫了一些自己的感受,整理一下重新發文。認識我一陣子的人應該都會知道我是一個性侵被害者。我個人不是特別喜歡與人爭辯,或是挑起衝突,但是身為一個對性犯罪行為有親身經驗的人,每當這些議題出現在我的周遭的時候,我都覺得我有義務以一個過來人的身份分享我的經驗,或是表達我的意見。更何況在我們的社會中,這個話題其實很少被以有建設性,以及公開的方式討論。在對這個議題發言的時候,我每次都是萬分小心,先打草稿,諮詢我信任的朋友,請他們評論我的觀點是否理性,公平,會不會過度偏激,再請他們幫我抓錯字。

其實,身為一個性侵被害者我對這件事情的觀點是十分情緒化的。但是不管是傷心難過,還是快要氣炸了,我都會提醒自己這些情緒:
1. 發洩在別人身上不公平,而且
2. 對不了解這類犯罪行為的人沒有說服力。

所以在寫有關這些議題的文章的時候,我只能用我最理性的一面去面對。在一般生活中,這些事情卻給我帶來很大的負面衝擊。過去的傷痛不能再讓我難過,因為我已經盡力地替我自己爭取正義,而且也原諒的當年加害我的親人。好笑的是,雖然我能夠對過去釋懷,我當下所見的的自私,或是無知,卻很容易讓我再一次悲憤。

我常常很希望這是別人的問題⋯⋯ 不過人生中之有很多不如意之事,也有很多的挑戰,除了努力做對事情讓自己問心無愧之外,還能怎麼樣呢?麻煩的是,理性是一回事,心情卻又是一回事。當我理性地想要做最好的自己的時候,我的心情卻常常十分的沈重。

因為怕沈迷影響練舞,所以最近很久沒有看新的書。前兩天終於又買了幾本劇情緊湊的小說。沒有在忙的時候只想廢,想要腦海裡面空空的,不要去反覆思索那些我不能解決的問題,還有我無法幫助的人。

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Today I realized...

that the effect of my earlier life is that I assume that people won't like me (or worse - that I won't like them).