Cartography…

She looked again
but she could not find her
not on this scraped and scribbled parchment
not here among the faint ink lines
that denoted landscapes long forgotten
hills and valleys
that were worn even by the winds of time
though she continued the search
for the she before her
the paper oracle in her lap remained silent
it would breathe no word
of the whereabouts of this woman
the she before her
the one whose locks
were not of ash and peppered coal
she whose mane
flowed like an ebony flame
and how often through the gold of a crown
it hung in the salt air
aloft on her shoulders
before they were pauldroned
and framed in steel
she who walked amid
daisyed fields
and through the shade of willow branches
in the sun-swirled breezes of early march
and knew no particulars
of drought cracked earth
beneath the flap of torn rag battle standards
the she before her
who knew not the sound
a blade makes as it slices through dragon flesh
the edges of this map
here be monsters
they all knew her name now
the monsters
and they all would retreat
when e’re her boot heels would approach
and though her sword
slept at her hip
it knew they would not find her
the she before her
for the woman they sought
was the self same maiden
now warrioress
who rests upon weathered stone
and dreams of a time
when this map
was a stranger to her

– Dedicated to Christine Ray – Beautiful Woman, Amazing Friend, Trusted Ally, Champion

We Will Not Be Silenced Launch Event II

Blood Into Ink

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Join us for our second launch event on Facebook!

December 7 at 7pm-10pm

The editors and contributors are concluding a week of events in honor of the publication of We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art. Our live events are a great opportunity to learn more about the book’s origin, purpose, and contributors and get some sneak peeks of the powerful content.


OUR STORY

We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art is the brainchild of Kindra M. Austin, Candice Louisa Daquin, Rachel Finch, and Christine E. Ray. The four indie writers and survivors felt compelled to do something after the strongly triggering Kavanaugh Hearings. We decided that we would advocate, educate, and resist through our art.
We opened submissions for…

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We Will Not Be Silenced – Launch Tomorrow!

We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay and Art is in the best seller #1 position for Poetry Anthologies and the #1 New Release in Women’s Poetry on Amazon!

Please, if you have not yet purchased a copy, consider doing so for someone else if not for yourself. You can even purchase to give to a shelter or rape crisis center. We deliberately kept the cost low so most could afford a copy and the message in this incredible anthology would be spread.

We Will Not Be Silenced is going to have the first of several events tomorrow November 30 on Facebook if you are able to attend and whilst there, if you want to join We Will Not Be Silenced on Facebook and the accompanying site, Sisters of Indigo Light

We Will Not Be Silenced is available on Amazon

Why ‘We Will Not Be Silenced’- Christine E. Ray

I am a writer, an editor, and publisher with a background in clinical social work and neurodegenerative research.  I am a mother, a wife, pansexual, dyslexic, living with Bipolar II, and fibromyalgia.  I am an artist, an avid reader, and lifelong advocate for social justice.

I am also a sexual abuse survivor.

Like many sexual abuse survivors, I kept my story to myself for many, many years.  For decades, I only shared my story with the people I was most emotionally and physically intimate with.

Partially my silence was to protect the innocent who could still be hurt by the fallout of my story, partially because of shame, partially because I told myself that what happened to me wasn’t so bad compared to what has happened to so many others, and partially because I didn’t want to be viewed as damaged.  I didn’t need, or want, anyone’s pity.

When I turned 50, I realized that my silence was slowly eating me alive and was keeping me stuck in a place in a place of shame and self-blame that served no one but my now-dead abuser.  So I started to write and tell my story creatively.  It was terrifying, painful, empowering, healing and incredibly validating when others started to tell me what an impact my writing had on them.  They told me they felt less alone.  Some said that I had written exactly what they had always needed to say but couldn’t.  I cannot express how profound this feedback was or how motivating.

This lead to the founding of Blood Into Ink with Kindra M. Austin, 1Wise-Woman, Aurora Phoenix, and others.  I felt strongly that we needed a place to collect the stories of trauma survival warriors and show that they were so much more than victims.

This led me to ask Rachel Finch, the incredible founder of the Bruised But Not Broken Community, to let me publish her stunning book of poetry A Sparrow Stirs its Wings about her own experience with abuse and healing through Sudden Denouement Publishing.  This led me to prepare the manuscript for The Myths of Girlhood, a collection of writing about my own experiences with sexual abuse, PTSD, and life of a survivor.

It also lead me to turn to my incredible network of survival warriors when the recent Kavanaugh hearings rocked the United States,  communicating to the world how little our stories as survivors are valued, how easy it is for some people to turn a blind eye, and how many would rather accuse a survivor of lying than accept that rapists and harassers are not always monsters who live in dark caves, but can be the boy next door, our classmate who is a star of the basketball team, our judges, our heroes.

Candice Louisa Daquin, Kindra M. Austin, Rachel Finch and I believe that it is more important than ever for women AND men who have been sexually harassed, sexually abused to tell their stories.  To be heard.  For our diversity and our commonalities to be seen.  We Will Not Be Silenced is just the beginning of our response to these recent events that have shaken us, outraged us, and motivated us to encourage others to break their silence, to use creativity and community to heal, to connect, to fight back.

We will be accepting submissions for We Will Not Be Silenced until midnight on Monday, October 15th.  There is still time for your voice to be heard.  We are stronger together.  It is time to be loud.

© 2018 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

What Every Woman Knows- Christine Ray

I originally wrote this piece in October of 2016.   A friend reminded me today of it, stating, ‘it is as wrenching, heartbreaking, and infuriating today.’  Its a long but an important read.  Even if you have read it before, read it again.  It holds new resonance this month.


Social media has been buzzing this morning with the reveal of Donald Trump’s misogynistic and vulgar comments about women in 2005. They are appalling, but for most women, negotiating these types of attitudes and behaviors is business as usual.

A few months ago after yet another shooting of an unarmed African American by the police, I was working out a possible blog post in my head. I wanted to try to articulate the analogy between how African American parents are forced to prepare their children for our racist culture with how women must prepare their girl children for American rape culture and had the revelation that I take this culture so much for granted that I rarely bother to have direct conversations about this with the men in my life. I don’t know if they are even aware of what most girls and women experience on a daily basis. It just is.

I actually cannot remember a time in my life that I was not aware that there will always be some boys and some men who will see girls and women, see me, as an object, as less than human, as a potential source of their gratification regardless of my wishes or consent. Did this awareness start the first time I was told by a teacher that the grade-school boy who pulled my braid so hard that it brought tears to my eyes was just doing that because he “liked” me?! Was it the first time spin the bottle was played at a middle school party and the girls were expected to be “good sports” and kiss boys they didn’t like, who might even repulse them, because they agreed to play in the first place? Was it the first time a friend showed up in high school English class with a black eye from her boyfriend and instead of offering her support, classmates whispered behind her back wondering what she had done to “deserve” it? Was it the first time I saw a fashion magazine ad where a vacant eyed woman in gorgeous clothes passively endured being groped by an equally gorgeous and well-dressed man? Or was posed kneeling prostrate in front of him, her head level with his crotch? Or maybe it was the first time I saw a Robert Palmer video on MTV.

Perhaps it was the first time an adult man paid a little too much attention to my pre-adolescent developing body and when I complained to my mother about it, saying it made me feel “gross,” I was basically told this is “just the way things are. Please don’t rock the boat by protesting or causing a scene. Just try to stay out of his way.”

Girls are taught from an incredibly early age that we are responsible not only for our own sexuality but for the sexuality of boys and men. That birth control is our responsibility. That being a sexual tease (i.e. making out with a boy and then deciding we don’t want to go any further) is the worst thing that a girl can be. Or maybe that is being a slut– that’s always been a little bit confusing to me. Although the amount of sexism and body shaming that today’s girls are subject to in out-of-control school dress code policies that hold girls to different standards and blame them for “distracting” their male classmates is getting much-needed press, this is not a new story. We have always been told not to wear our skirts too short, our tops too low, not to be too loud and flashy lest we attract the “wrong” kind of attention while also being told to smile more, not to dress like a sexless librarian or god forbid, do not dress like a boy or you will be mistaken for a lesbian. I am sure my mother’s generation and my grandmother’s generation were also told to be modest, keep their legs crossed, not wear their skirts too short and to be “good” girls too.

The reality is, no matter what length we wear our skirts, no matter how buttoned up our shirts are, how good we try—how good I try– to be, I simply do not know a woman who has not been subject to unwanted, unwelcome sexual attention from boys and men. I actually don’t know how many times I have ridden public transportation and not known if the man standing next to me was jostled into me or deliberately fondled me. Some of this is subtle and I have questioned my own interpretation, calling myself paranoid. Some of this is blatant and unrepentant. I have had to change seats more than once on trains and buses because of this. I have talked politely to men on trains when I would have much rather been reading my book at the end of a long day because I was worried that if I ignored his attention, he could escalate and I could get hurt.

When I was a young social worker, I had male clients flirt with me, ask for my phone number, ask about my boyfriend, my home life, and my sex life during sessions and on one memorable occasion, masturbate during a session (for the record, I told him I would only keep talking to him if both his hands were on the desk.) I was 24 years old. Social work school did not prepare me for days like that.

Nor did it prepare me for the new middle-age male outpatient clinic manager who always seemed to have his hand in the small of my back when we walked down the hall. It just felt “wrong,” too “intimate” and when the administrative staff came to me and told me that he was being even more sexually inappropriate with them, I became the whistle blower who reported him to management, who fortunately had our backs and fired him the same day. What sticks with me is that despite me knowing that he had to go, that there was no place for a person in a position of power making any staff member feel unsafe in an agency that treated traumatized and abused children, I still felt guilty about getting him fired.

I have personally had to fire a male temp employee who was doing mental health intakes for my unit at a community mental health center who made arrangements to meet one of our fragile new female clients in a bar and then asked her to go out with him. She was brave enough to report him. Both he and his temp agency were puzzled about why he had to go and had to go immediately.

I have lost my shit with a male emergency room doctor and female nurse when I took a teenage client for evaluation after she was sexually assaulted by a car full of teenage boys. The hospital staff treated her– and me–  with visible contempt because of the way she was dressed and because she kept laughing nervously during examination, which was simply how she was dealing with the trauma. She was 16 years old. I was 22 and in sweatpants, flip flops and a T-shirt and hope that they remembered me for the rest of their careers yelling at them loudly enough for the entire ER staff to hear that if I was ever unlucky enough to be sexually assaulted in Boston, I prayed that I would be taken to a hospital where the staff would treat me with the kindness and compassion I deserved, with the kindness and compassion this young woman, no matter how she was dressed, had deserved.

I have been in a freshman dorm room where a drunk, entitled college football player would not take ‘no’ for an answer when my roommate allowed him to stay in the room as a favor for a floor mate after a party. I made a lot of noise to make it clear that I was awake and he stopped and eventually passed out. Apparently he was not nearly as bothered by my roommates resistance to his advances as he was by an audience. My roommate had a black belt in karate and just froze. He was a friend of friend and we were so socialized to be “nice” that my roommate was almost date raped with me in the room. I can’t even remember if we ever told our floor mate about it or whether we just avoided her boyfriend and his cocky teammate going forward.

I have been catcalled when I dressed nicely– but appropriately- for work by construction workers and cars full of men. I wonder how many women reading this still feel their stomachs clench up EVERY time they have to walk by a construction site in preparation for the catcalling. I can’t believe that I am the only one. I have been angrily called a “fucking dyke” or a “stuck-up bitch” on more than one occasion when I refused to make eye contact, refused to smile, refused to say “thank you” to some random man trying to get my attention and/or making inappropriate comments about my body and what he would like to do to it, when I just wanted to get where I am going.

What almost feels worse about these experiences is not that they happen, but how I have learned to just shrug them off because “that’s the way it is.” It is painful for me to have the kind of conversations mothers feel are their responsibility with my own children, to try to give them a little bit of armor against this type of pervasive and casual sexual harassment, with this rape culture. It starts young with books like “It’s My Body” and progresses to conversations about if they are going to drink or experiment with drugs to please, only do that with people they know well and trust, don’t ever accept an open drink at a party, to always go out in a group when going out at night. To look out for each other. I am angry and sad about these conversations, about the fact that I am now training the next generation of girls and women to feel responsible for someone else’s behavior. For some boy or man’s sexuality.

I realize that the many people, mostly men, who point out that potential harassers and rapists should remember that a girl or woman is someone else’s mother/sister/wife truly mean well but this really pisses me off. It should not matter if I am some man’s wife, some man’s daughter, or some boy’s sister. The fact that I am should be enough. I am a human being, not an object. I am complete and entire on my own, regardless of my relationship to others. Regardless of my relationship to a boy or a man. I deserve to have my wishes, boundaries and personal integrity respected because I am a thinking, breathing human being in this world.

 

Image from The Odyssey Online

Original post: © 2016 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Revision: © 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Christine E Ray’s Composition of a Woman, out now!

Front cover cropped

Composition of a Woman is currently available on Amazon.comAmazon.ca (Canada) and Amazon Europe ( Amazon.co.ukAmazon.deAmazon.fr,Amazon.it, and Amazon.es.)

It should be available of Book Depository and Barnes & Noble soon.

Signed copies of Composition of a Woman are also available on the Sudden Denouement Etsy site.

Watch this incredible video by Dena Daigle for taste of Christine E Ray’s gorgeous work and unmatched talent: