**(Art work: We could not find the artist who did this incredible piece; but wanted to give credit for any who may know the origins of this powerful piece for crediting)**
Thank you for returning to our page as we continue to unfold and grow together. It's our 50th blog plenary since we started...so crazy! Survivors of sexual assault or not, we honor you for your support as we heal together!
The last couple of weeks, Cristal and myself expanded our experiences of rape culture and the affect of our survival stories have had on our relationships with our amazingly-supportative men, James and Mike (thank you Kings, we love you both!) ❤️🙏🏼
As you may or may not know, April is the "sexual assault awareness month" and while we know the experiences of sexual assault survivors surpass a month's time, we do think it's important we continuously shed light on the realities of so many who may have had a first hand experience. And to those individuals reading this who haven't been exposed to these realities; we encourage you to learn with us survivors who are trying to make efforts towards improving our cultures sentiments of sexual assault continue.
That being said, we wanted to take this time to reflect on a piece inspired by the relationship rape has on our culture and its history; written by our very own: Devin Marie.
(We will reconvene next week with a brand new series we can't wait to share with you all; stay tuned!)
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A letter to Patriarchy:
Inspired by My (Mother)land
The act of taking something for one's own use; typically without the owner's permission.
Similarly to that one bully who snatched my frosted animal crackers from my lunch box in the second grade
In his defense, he was just hungry and what I had looked good.
The story books taught us it's okay to borrow when you like what you see;
Glorified a man who made a living taking lands across seas, Christening them with beliefs they weren't ready to receive
Columbus probably just made a pit stop, scoped the place out and thought you know, it looked good, "this is mine, no doubt"
But I can't help but wonder how many
I.O.U's had to be written to justify the taking of our Mother...
Oh sweet mother;
You birthed resources, and tribes, but like first baby cries
Life was forever changed;
They saw what looked good and made it their own.
Claimed ownership of lands converted into property to build up stores and didn't bother to ask the roots they pulled whether they'd miss the gardens my ancestors watered in order for them to grow
You cut us off; from each other like slave families working without commission but for the profit of White America's vision.
(Displaced identities constantly roaming for its origins within the confines of white-privileged-cultural norms)
No wonder to this day me & my mother still can't walk freely without being called "ma", "mama" or "baby" from street corners
Our identity as a culture has been stolen from a notion that "what Looks good; like can be owned" with or without consent
I'm tired of blaming Columbus, I'm tired of blaming white people and every hyper-masculine body sitting on his high-horse-on wall-street protected by the men in blue we've renamed pigs, who can't fly, but break oaths like broken promises on swing sets swung by school kids on the block; who can't find a decent school within their district because these lands aren't theirs,remember ?
Please excuse these run-on sentences as I'm trying to find a period in time when "female"wasn't a threat but an asset that didn't involve just her assests as sole means of her worth.
You made it okay for them to touch the lands my mother taught me as a young girl were private.
The hidden place you've given culture excuses to exploit--
And if you don't believe me just flip through channels, or scroll through feeds where we still sell and wear chains in the magazines instead of black markets that further prove products are only deemed profitable when a naked body is involved.
My mother taught me "...money don't make the woman" while you taught me "a woman's influence can make or break a dollar."
You've said; "at LEAST women can work now; and an added bonus; choose so don't blame the vixens, strippers and sex industry workers who on average are making more than the 20% wage gap you still complain about for every dollar I make."
But it's not the equal paycheck that frightens you most, or even admitting our four fathers were only made possible by the land of my mother....
But that the fragility within the hyper-masculine guise for centuries is at the mercy of a female.
And perhaps why my mother also taught me:
The reason why the bully picks on the smaller kid on the playground and steals her lunchbox treats, or the reason why Columbus thought it was okay to occupy land that wasn't his own and call it "his", or the reason during times of what you deem as a "man's- war" claims more women and children as victims of sexual assault or why women in college are more likely to be raped during her first two years of pursuing higher education is because the story books only taught from (HIS)tory....
They made it evident that you only oppress that which you fear might be stronger than you...including the realities of HERstory.
So, to the mothers still teaching about their true origins, and the fathers that agree. To the truth still spoken about our blatant sexist history, to the culture we wish to expose and end, to the culture we wish to recreate, and mend; my mother speaks from wells of forgiveness she once emptied tears in...were ready to baptize our lands back to when freedom began; in our wombs room enough for both woman & man. ❤️
eyy All! Whether you’re new to the blog or revisiting, this is one series you don’t want to miss! So to catch you up, this month, HERSTORY is concentrating its time and energy around our current series entitled; Rape Culture and Relationships. We will be following up with last week’s amazing interview between HERSTORY’s cofounder, Cristal and her husband James. This week, I had the opportunity and amazing experience of interviewing not only my incredible partner, Mike, but a man I have grown to respect and love ever more because of this vulnerable, and candid one-on-one experience where we discussed our growth and healing within our relationship in relation to Rape Culture and its influence within music, the world we live in, and our personal relationship. 💗
When I first thought of the idea of Cristal and I interviewing our partners on what we do every week here on this blog; it seemed like a daunting task... But it made sense, and felt right. I feel like this experience is what needs to be shared in healing and becoming better on individual levels as well as give a platform to the men who bravely stand up for the women they love, and respect,
1. What was your first thought when I opened up about being a rape survivor?
Well...initially I thought, well, this person has been through a lot. And, not that it’s my job... but I am a new example for you...I knew there were other ways to go about life. You don’t have to live in fear, but you can continuously move forward with hope in mind; based on God, a positive mind state, to continue living and not let the things of your past haunt you.
2. Do you feel my experience interfered in our relationship and how?
I don’t think it has interfered but it definitely has affected it because like I said, moreso, I have to set an example...You know, you don’t have to respond the way the world or society assumes you have to respond after going through something like that. You can love freely, not worried about being judged, not worried about who you have been, but focused on who you are, and who you are trying to become.
3. What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle for you, being in a relationship where your partner has survived sexual assault?
Probably the dealing of (your) mental lapses, some breakdowns, but you know with God, you can conquer all things. And also making adjustments on my end too in order to understand how to channel how your feeling and also hearing what God is saying to let HIM make the call on the situation and use him as a way of solving the problem as opposed to trying to solve or fix the problem on my own or even on your own. It has made me grow patience to understand that there are different sides of life, and sometimes people ARE affected by what they’ve been through...I have been affected by my own experiences too, but I do my best to put forth the mindstate that you can always move forward.
4.Generally speaking, how do you think my experience of rape influenced the way we’ve experienced our relationship together as a couple?
We’ve definitely grown stronger. You've learned to deal with your emotions better...and I’ve learned… how to deal with how you deal with your emotions better...haha
And man….PRAYING HELPS!--I probably had some issues with praying in the beginning of our relationship because I was embarrassed that maybe I didn’t know how to pray for somebody, but I learned, and we grew together; which helped me gain a stronger understanding of you, and and stronger understanding that “I can come to my God with extreme vulnerability as well, and know that He’ll accept me, and still love me."
….It’s not easy, but I definitely appreciate the growth...
5. What advice would you give someone dating/in a relationship with a rape survivor?
I believe patience is definitely a virtue! And you have to have patience throughout life, including with people. Two parties HAVE to have patience for each other’s growth and they need to discuss their differences. If what they have is REAL...then both parties should have a say on how each would like to progress while being open-minded enough to try something different.
For example; you crying and locking yourself in your room isn't going to help after a period of time. It's good to get some time to decompress , but eventually you gotta face it. You can’t keep running away and escaping, so you know maybe (Something we often do) instead of locking yourself away, open yourself up--go somewhere in nature where you can be alone but the truth is you're not alone--you've got the world in front of you, and maybe that will induce a different state of mind where you are thinking more clearly, than thinking boxed in. Basically, help the other person hurting in a place conducive to healing. And also, have the partner use that same space as well to grow and feed off each other where positivity is all that's left to build from.
6. As a parent, you have the opportunity to set the precedence for how your children view or think about sex, and other people’s bodies...How will you teach your future children about sex education/sex boundaries?
It should be an open conversation. Meeting them at their level, watch who I’m dealing with, what they know or not know about sex and trying to get them to understand. Keeping them educated in the role they play in relationships. Be honest, with no judgment and the most important thing is letting them know that they can come to me and communicate about anything--that there are no limits to what can be discussed between me and my child. Just as you come to your Heavenly Father, and in that space, He’s not judging you, but He’ll listen. And in that same manner more fathers need to listen more, listen to their children and be emotionally available for them to have their kids open up to them if they need..so instilling that confidence, and deal with it the best way that I can.
7.What are your general sentiments about what Cristal and are building with Herstory?
I like it a lot. I think it is a completely self-less endeavor. Also, its helping you grow as a person, helping others heal by leading by example, which in turn helps you heal. You're building a community; so while you're building someone up; they are building you up...those experiences and those testimonies, whether you lived them or not, those are yours...
8. So...You’re a songwriter, and an incredibly talented singer and artist. With your years in the entertainment industry, do you believe that entertainers have the authority to influence a culture like rape culture in order for it to change or completely cease to exist?
I can’t control what people like or don’t like. The sad thing about today’s society is...people like weird things. I sometimes ask myself “how can they listen to that, or how is that okay…?” A lot of music today has become...really dumb. Just straight unintelligent. But anyone no matter what artistic medium they are channeling has the authority to change the culture (consider like ,some underground artists). If you don’t use your voice for positive things, you're simply dealing more harm into society. I don’t think people really understand the power they have,so I try my best even when I share the same space with others; to express my views on things, or choose to or NOT choose to participate in certain concepts or ideas. But I do feel that there is room for it, and it's growing.. There is a knowledge wave coming back through,but you can’t make people smarter. They (society, culture) have to want to learn so, at some point (and it will come to a point) people will have no choice but to listen..
After thoughts from Devin Marie.
Let me just say… I am incredibly grateful for this experience. And after all was said, I felt a greater confirmation that this is what God meant for me to know and see when He said He loved me.” I’ve never shared this with anyone outside of my relationship and maybe just Cristal. But, the first time I opened up to Mike about being raped was also the first time he told me that he loved me… And in that moment, I can honestly say, every broken promise, every question and doubt I had of my past crumbled into the milion pieces on the floor that once laid my broken heart. And although my healing began long before Mike came into my life, he has proven God true to His word in regards to receiving love in my life again. And probably most importantly, I've learned that love, the truest of them, at least, really does heal all… 💗
Cristal & James Lowe💛
Happy Friday readers!! We are happy to have you back; And if it is your first time visting, welcome!
Last week, laid the ground work for this month's series as we introduced a new topic called "Rape Culture" we will be discussing in our Rape Culture and Relationships series. For the next two weeks, Cristal and I will be taking turns interviewing two people who have been an incredible support system and ample part towards supporting us in our healing, love for self, and growth of Herstory.
Our most intimate realtionships reveal a LOT about who we are, and we wanted to begin with Cristal this week as she speaks with her wonderful husband, James, on her journey and its affects on their relationship.
Seaking out is nerve-racking...I had to find the strength as I controlled my heart beat, but hearing my husband response and how he felt is nerve-racking also. I'm not sure what to expect but I know it will bring us yet even closer than we already are.
So for this week's blog, I interviewed my husband with a few questions about the intense moment I open up about being a rape survivor and what it has been like in my healing process.
1. What has been your impression of rape or sexual assault? Did you know much about it in your personal life or outside of that?
Initially I though rape only happened in foreign countries where laws are in men's favor. Did I know much about rape, no I never met someone that has experienced such trauma like rape.
2. What was your first thought when I open up about being a rape survivor?
I was cought of guard at first but my thought was to be there for you at the same time I felt sad that you had to experience such a thing as rape.
3. When I opened up to you about my experience, how do you think it changed our relationship?
After knowing your story I feel it made our relationship stronger because our trust became stronger and were able to open up more with each other.
4. How did you feel about expressing your feeling towards me? Where you unsure or afraid I would react a certain way?
I felt guilty to express my feelings because I felt I would put you in the mind set when you got rape, and didn't want to make you feel bad about the pain you had endured. I was unsure of your reaction I didn't want you to think I was like every other man or that I didn't care about you I just wanted you to see I love you and you can always trust me.
5. Did you feel like walking away? Why did you chose to stay?
I didn't feel like walking away but I knew it would be a difficult relationship to be in because I didn't know much about rape and didn't think I would be able to help you with the trauma.
I chose to stay in our relationship because I felt you needed someone who would understand you and truly love you for who you are with out judging you for what you had gone through, it seemed like you would judge your self and were really hard on yourself for being a victim of rape when initially you didn't make that choice for yourself.
6. Do you feel my experience interfered in our relationship and how?
Yes, because at first you wouldn' t want to go out with me if it was just you and me you would always ask to bring a friend because your friend would be with you. At that point I was unsure what was the reason why but after you opened up about the rape I thought you would never really trust me and some how sabotage our relationship to not being together. Although time had past and we were starting a new chapter in marriage I felt your experience of rape would limit our intimate time but I knew healing took time.
7. Knowing my experience of rape did it change your view of me?
Yes, I felt like you were a strong woman because although your family didn't know and only a handful of people knew your story you still smiled everyday went to school and work, and you never gave up on life, you never gave up on your dream even though you shared how you felt like throwing in the towel....you never gave up and that in itself inspired me to follow my dreams no matter what obstacles cross my path.
8. What advice would you give someone dating/in a relationship with a rape survivor?
I would tell them to be patient and kind never judge them because you never know what they may be capable of doing if in their weakest moment. Know that healing takes time and it will be worth being patient and helping the person you love rebuild.
9. What do you think is needed in relationships when experiences like sexual trauma are involved?
Firstly, I believe trust is needed in order to be able to help each other and most importantly something that help my wife and I was God and prayer. Loving God first and a prayer life will help stay strong and together through the hard times and loving times.
10. How will you teach your children or future children about sex education/sex boundaries?
I will teach my children to always respect boundaries of other people and no means no.
As to my daughter even though she's only 3 we have taught her and continue to teach her to always respect her body no matter what situation she may experience, to know her voice matters and to always speak out!
11. How you feel about Herstory?
I feel Herstory is an amazing organization to help victims have a voice and build themselves back up stronger than before even those who have not experienced sexual assault to be aware of the reality that people don't talk about. I'm proud of my wife and sister for putting all their fears aside and stepping out in faith to have their voice heard you two are strong and courageous women of God.James Lowe
After thoughts from Cristal Lowe:
I didn't know what to expect from this interview...but for sure if we thought we were strong before, we are stronger going through memory lane of how our relationship became stronger even through the trauma, and all though not mention in the interview I thank my husband for being my rock through every moment in life every step needed to rebuild and heal from the trauma of rape.
For the longest time, I felt as if I had to be strong...smile and act as if nothing was wrong all by myself, but he became my shoulder to cry on, my listening ear, my rock, my soldier protecting me in every step. He stood by my side when I spoke out and shared my story with my family even when I wanted to walk out and keep it to my self; he was there to remind me that I can do it and no matter what may happen he still stands by me always.
One thing is for sure, when you are patient and wait on God's promises he will send the right people to your life who will never judge you but yet help build you and make you stronger.♡♡♡
NEW MONTH// NEW SERIES!!
Hello fellow readers! Not only is it the end of another amazing week, but also the beginning of a brand-new month that we are so excited to jump start with a brand-new series! This will definitely be a topic that we will revisit in the future because the complexities within this topic are so vast there really isn't enough time in one post alone to be able to expand upon the content we want to share respectfully with everyone. That being said, we are going to continue doing what we do best which is speak from our own personal experiences, and continue to grow and learn from one another.
So, it is with great anticipation that we introduce our newest topic series we've entitled "Rape Culture and Relationships".
This week is all about the framework for future topics within this month(we will be having some guest writers we are very excited to share with you as well) but until then, let's dive into the foundation for this month's subject, shall we?!
As told by Devin Marie:
So, as mentioned before, while I was attending my university, I had an incredibly difficult time focusing on my studies due to the post traumatic stress I was still
Coping with from the rape I experienced my freshman year. I initially went to school for English and marketing but, God led me to pursue a separate discipline. So I took a chance and walked into a women and gender studies introduction course that changed my life for the better. It was within this time I was able to contextualize my experience of rape through education and figure out why this is so prevalent and why I and so many other individuals share in this experience without justice or even recognition. At that particular point I made the decision to dedicate my entire educational career around this particular discipline and do research outside of my classes that involved difficult topics such as rape culture, what it is, and how it influences our daily lives.
Many of us may never hear the coined term "rape-culture" unless in privileged settings within academia, but even so, it is a topic that isn't called Into question enough! It was important for me to share with you some of my knowledge to make sure for future reads to come we can have a better understanding of where Herstory is coming from. 😉Okay...soooo...we all know the sociological framework behind "culture" and what that signifies in terms of customs and traditions within a particular group of people, but "rape-culture".... is still unclear for some, and even rejected or denied by others.
In essence, " When we talk about rape culture, we’re speaking about cultural practices (that, yes, we commonly engage in together as a society) that normalize sexual violence and as result, this normalization deems it tolerable and even excusable.
Writer's note: although we at Herstory are speaking from a female's perspective, Rape culture affects EVERYONE; and intersects all races, genders (binary, and non-conforming), trans, cis & non-cis gendered individuals)
Now that we know what rape culture is, we can better assess how it affects us in our daily lives.
For example, the hypersexuality of women in particular and the American culture that I live in tells me that women like myself, women of color, specifically are seen as having no greater significance than that of an object that can be used, threatened, or harassed.
Ways in which we see hypersexuality acceptable within our culture are displayed within multiple mass media channels such as Magazine's, film, television, music videos, social media etc.
There is a fine line between sexual-exploitation of one's body and say "the individual's right of agency over one's body" some argue rape culture is a complete fabrication of reality, or an excuse for survivors who are upsetting the privileges within patriarchy. Hyper-masculinity often argue things by saying things like, "well, that model/actress/video-vixen CHOSE to parade around naked, she should expect men to be attracted to her/ want to be all over her."
But that argument fails to acknowledge the humanity behind that individual. The human side behind the pretty-girl or the occupation she voluntarily participates in.
Somewhere along the line, and perhaps, blind-sided by the pot-holes within patriarchy, many have forgotten the difference between WHAT we do and WHO we are.
As a result, our culture absorbs all of these hypersexualized images and videos of women who CHOOSE to use their bodies in these ways, and indirectly assume that women everywhere operate in the same manner OR that their right of choice is revoked in the presence of a male who has been conditioned to believe "it's a man's world, and therefore everything in it is mine for the taking"
Rape culture manifests itself in many ways within our lives and it is further reinforced through mass media. You can flip through many magazines, or scroll through Instagram, TV commercials, and film and come across many examples of society normalizing sexual promiscuity usually projected on women's bodies, however we are seeing more men's bodies being objectified as well.
Take for example well-known and popular Carl's Jr. commercials that spend 25 seconds showing a long-legged, busty model (accompanied by a Beyoncé fan blowing those perfectly blended hair extensions away from her face devouring their newest meaty-burger) and we get only 5 seconds of the actually burger that drops from an imaginary cloud of raining burgers we never see in the frame...and well, you get the point.
You might be wondering how a model eating a burger in a fast food commercial has any correlation with the 1 in 5 women who will be sexually assaulted in her college career, or the prevalence of rape in general? Or how the exposure of pornography (violent or non-violent) introduces a non-realistic and damaging portrayal of sexual relations between individuals where consent is NEVER communicated; and only further's the cis-gendered male's belief that women WANT to have sex, all the time, and its not too far-fetched to believe that after enough exposure to women being portrayed sexually that the day-to-day interactions with women would translate in similar sexualized ways.
Mass media translates into real life experiences such as cat-calling, and various degrees of harassment, including sexual assault.
When the culture accepts rape as something to be expected and NOT prevented; this because a major problem.
It is why today,
Athletes and celebrities are protected and defended from "accusations" of such a heinous crime like rape before seriously hearing the account of a survivor's story. Why survivors are blamed more for why they're dressed a certain way that "entices" men to want to pursue them sexually in the first place. Or why society has accepted that "boys will be boys" a saying that only furthers the privileges within a patriarchal society. It is also perhaps why The majority of reported rapes go untested for rape kits which leads to more closed cases than any other crime due to "lack of sufficient evidence." Or, like in my case, "The DA was not confident in pursuing your case because that would mean they would have to prove to 12 jurors (that make up a populous so ingrained & conditioned by influences within rape-culture) without a shadow of a doubt, that you are innocent, and we're not asking for it The night that you were assaulted."
This became an incredibly harsh reality that I had to learn to acknowledge in order to find ways to prevent the perpetuation of rape culture for future generations to come. I personally don't know if we'll be able to eradicate rape culture completely… But I am hopeful that with more education and more sensitivity to the prevalence of rape and what is truly influencing our Society as a whole, we can make strides in not furthering the damages it has in our daily lives.
There are so many other ways we can get across entertaining people in society as well as influencing people to purchase a product without compromising the safety and respectable representation of certain bodies that still have to function and navigate through society on a daily basis.
That being said, Cristal and myself want to dedicate this blog and future post to come in not only expressing our own personal experiences within rape culture but potentially help to educate and undo the damage and affects that it has on every individual exposed to it.
With all that being said, I do hope that this has introduced for some of you perhaps a new perspective on the prevalence of sexual assault and maybe answer a few of your questions that you might have had. We are open to your comments, or questions, and hope to have you back for future posts to come!
💗💗We are going to expand on this topic with the help of people that are incredibly close to us to get their feedback on rape-culture & relationships so please stay tuned for that! Thank you again for visiting are ever – growing blog as we continue to learn, grow, and heal together!
As always, with LOVE & solidarity,
💗Devin Marie& Cristal Lowe
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