Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

My Silent Scream

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I’ve been screaming for most of my life. Ever since innocence was taken from me at a tender age. I’ve been screaming, but you haven’t heard me. This scream has been trapped behind a polite smile. This scream has been buried in the haze of blurry memories and life moving forward. It’s been lying in wait while I went about living what turned into a pretty happy life. But it’s always been there. I didn’t ask for this primal urge, it was gifted to me by a sick soul. Silently screaming for decades.

No more. I’ve written about my experience. I’ve purged and I’ve felt some release. I’ve spent years doing the work of healing and I’ve dealt with my demons. I’m good.

But sometimes? Sometimes I still want to scream out loud.

When I see rapists getting a paternal pat on the head from sympathetic judges, I want to scream.

When I see girls getting shamed for being victims, I want to scream.

When I see child molesters go free and live to abuse another day, I want to scream.

When I see a culture that still shames mothers for breast feeding because our breasts are for sexual gratification only, and not for feeding our babies, and how dare you use your body for anything other than a man’s satisfaction, I want to scream.

When I see young girls sent home from school because they are wearing leggings, or their skirts don’t meet the fingertip rule, or they are standing awkwardly while a teacher puts a ruler up to their thighs, or they squirm in the shirt that is tighter and more revealing than it was last week, or they get sent to the office to put on a sweater from the Lost and Found because their fucking shoulders are showing, I want to scream.

When I read comments on my own blog telling my own experiences in life aren’t real. When they say that I’m ridiculous for even speaking up about the everyday sexism that is an insidious undercurrent in our culture that leads to permissibility of rape by the community and the judiciary and the media, I want to scream.

When I see fierce friends open up their old wounds and write about their own rape and they have men respond with comments of “you look like the type of woman who deserves to be raped,” I want to scream.

When I have my 12 year old daughter come home from school telling me about the boy who sits next to her and jokes about raping classmates, and the boy in P.E. class who talks about the girls’ breasts while staring at them intently, and the boys in the hallways who make lewd comments. And she worries about what she wears and whether the boys will say something, or whether the administration will say something so she wears nothing but loose t shirts and long shorts, I want to scream.

When I realize that my son went through three years of Middle School with no complaints. Without ever feeling uncomfortable about his safety or his body, I want to scream for my daughter.

When I see women get torn apart in court for what they wore, or how much they drank, or how many times they had sex in the past, or how many people they had sex with… as if drinking or enjoying sex is an open invitation for rape. When I see rapists shrouded in entitlement and anger. Emboldened up by a lifetime of seeing women blamed for rape. And girls blamed for distracting in school, and women blamed for tempting with how they are dressed and blamed for not fighting back and blamed for politely resisting his advances and… and… blamed for just being there, I want to scream.

When I see people quibble over the statistics on rape… is it 1 in 4? You know, that study was flawed… When I have lost count of the women I personally know who’ve been raped and assaulted, and I can only count one that has reported it, and does it even matter because it sounds to me like arguing over the statistics is a convenient diversion from the harsh reality that rape happens way too fucking much, I want to scream.

When I hear women say they don’t need feminism while their sisters in the world are being raped and sexually assaulted, I want to scream.

When I see athletes and musicians get a pass on rape because, you know, they can run the ball real good or they have gold records and we get angry over trivial things instead of men raping women and girls, I want to scream.

When I hear “stop being a victim” because I wrote about sexism, and they equate speaking about it to being curled up in a corner in some strange warped fallacy that means they really just don’t want to think about hard things, I want to scream.

When I see, all around me, women getting judged by their looks. Held to a different standard. Walking the fine line between looking attractive because it’s what society expects of us, but not too attractive because then you’re begging to be raped… or women who don’t care and don’t dress or put on makeup according to society’s “standards” get blasted for not being attractive enough, I want to scream.

When I see a purity culture than shames women and heaps guilt and feelings of being “used” and “worthless” on victims of rape because there is a premium on virgin brides, and promotes phrases like “modest is hottest” without even seeing the sick irony in such a phrase, and treats female sexuality like a commodity instead of something that belongs solely to her, I want to scream.

When I see grown ass men -fathers and husbands- leering at young girls who are only a few years older than their own daughters, who are feeding the very monster they so desperately want to protect their own daughters from, not caring that the young girl is squirming under their gaze or that her own father is desperately hoping that other men will treat his daughter with respect and not as a sexual object to be drooled over, I want to scream.

When I hear -over and over again- that sexism “happens to men too.” I want to scream about the power structure in our patriarchal society and the oppressive blanket of sexism that women live under from the time they enter puberty until they are too old to be considered desirable anymore. And I want to scream about the fact that your one or two incidences of being objectified does not equal my lifetime of it so it’s about time for you to sit down and listen or write your own damn article.

When I hear “boys will be boys” as an excuse for doing something inappropriate, a phrase that tells girls that boys’ impulses matter more than their own safety and autonomy, and tells boys they lack self control, and sets our kids up for a lifetime of “acceptable” sexism and, we learn to just laugh it off or looking the other way or just going about our business because this is normal to us… normal because we heard “boys will be boys” used as a dismissal of bad behavior when we were little. I want to scream.

When I see harsher jail sentences for marijuana possession than for rape, I want to scream.

When I see the privilege of class and race come into play even when it comes to deciding how to arrest, charge, prosecute and sentence a man for rape, I want to scream.

When I realize that my daughters will have to be on guard when the stranger on the street speaks to them, when their boss flirts with them, when they walk alone at night, when they go out on a first date with a guy. That they will have to listen to the tormented pain of a friend who has been assaulted, that they will have to know the harsh reality of what rape culture has done to our society and what it’s doing to them, that they may feel the horror of being violated themselves. I WANT TO SCREAM.

When I hear people scoff at the words Rape Culture, ignoring the very things that are embedded into our society, woven into our criminal justice system, whispered into the ears of our young girls, laughed off as jokes, shouted at young women walking down the street, rubbed up against us in crowds, shoved down the throats of women who dare to speak up, paraded in front of you at The Grammys or during Sunday Night Football, and seared into the subconscious of every woman who never asked to be raped…

I want to scream.

Consider this my not so silent scream.




49 Responses

      1. I never realized how stupid and Nieve some women really are. Lol. News Alert butt hurt women. Men and boys talk like this. Your husbands, sons, fathers. Get a group of guys together, and they have to be moncho in front of each other. Why do you all act so surprised. That was a private conversation between two guys a decade ago. But yet your ok with the fact that Bill slept with women in the White House. Raped women. While Hillary enabled a rapist. She tormented, humiliated, bribed, threatened those women. But yet you have no problem with that? I honestly don’t understand your thinking. Bash Trump who said things a long time ago, like most men. Trump recently became a reborn Christian. People change. Everyone has said or done something in our life were not proud of. I’m sure you all have skeletons in your closet you wouldn’t want others to know about or judge you for. Hell women are just as bad as men. I’m sure most of you made sexual comments about men to your girls. Bet most of all of you read Fifty Shades Of Grey. Lol This lady could give a shit about words spoken decades ago. I care more about the direction our country is going. Did you all know a damaging email was leaked on Hillary? Bet none of you care. Just think all those refugees Hillary wants to bring in 250,000 more. Rape women. But you have no problem with that.smh!! You all just want Hillary because she has a vagina, and making history is more important to you, then things she has done. I’m embarrassed how Nieve you ladies really are.This lady is voting Trump. My country and my child’s future is more important than making history, and being butt hurt.

  1. You. Are. Brilliant. And I hope your screams aren’t wasted. I hope they don’t go unheard. I hope very much they add to the impetus of a larger-scale outrage, which gains impetus UNTIL CHANGE HAPPENS!

    1. Thank you. Regardless if felt good to scream it out, even if only in writing. My friend and I had discussed going into the woods with old dishes and smashing them and screaming which sounds really really satisfying to me. Is that weird? Even then, I’m sure I would worry about someone hearing us and being afraid or thinking we were hurt. Until then, I’ll just have to write an angry rant every now and then…

  2. Re-posted on my facebook page. I am amazed at how your words match my insides.
    Thanks for articulating what so many of us feel

  3. “…and the fact that your one or two incidences of being objectified does not equal my lifetime of it so it’s about time for you to sit down and listen or write your own damn article.”

    Yeah. The fact that they can’t see that hijacking the comments with their own experience and expecting the writer to stop and address their complaint is an example of exactly what the writer is talking about is lost on them. Sigh.

    1. Sigh indeed. And it’s not that I have a problem with someone, male or female, sharing their similar experiences. I actually love that. But when they say “But…” and try to use it as a way to silence us for writing about these things? That’s when I have an issue. I can not imagine reading a blog post written by a man about his experiences with sexism or anything for that matter and responding with “But it happens to women too.” Ugh. And honestly, I wish more men would write about their experiences. This isn’t a competition for who’s suffered the most. I think that sadly that’s how some people view feminism.

  4. Reblogged this on Mariflies's Blog and commented:
    I can’t express how much I admire the author off this blog and post. We all need to keep screaming until rape culture is not the norm. Until all of us “lesser than’s”, especially girls and women, don’t have to be afraid of being, of existing, of where and how we fit into society.

  5. I love you and you are one of the strongest women I have ever known and I am honored to call you my friend. Thank you for screaming for all those who feel they can’t.

  6. As a male I am disgusted and ashamed of so called “men” who come out with many of the phrases you have written about appearance or drinking, asking for it, Virginia brides and so on especially as a defence of an abhorrent act.
    As a father to a boy and a girl I am terrified about what my daughter will have to go through in her life and I scream with you all. As for sentencing even life is too good for the vile men and women who commit sexual assault and rape…….
    You do not scream alone!

    1. Thank you. I know there are so many men who get this and understand all of this and I’m so grateful whenever they reach out or comment or communicate that. I have always believed that to truly fix these things it’s going to take men and women. Men suffer under these ideals of sexism too. The whole thing hurts all of us. Thank you for being here.

  7. I can’t even, Gretchen. You scream all you want and I’ll be screaming with you. We’ll scream until this madness stops! We won’t ever stop screaming!
    You are a brave and beautiful soul and I thank you for speaking out (screaming) on behalf of way too many of us. xoxoxoxo Love you, girl! 🙂

  8. This write-up was, in a world, brilliant. The force of your statements and anguish come through conspicuously.

    That being said, I do find myself in agreement with you. To my mind, it is simply atrocious that there are some people who would invent all sorts of excuses to “justify” degrading women in the society.

    I’ve re-shared this on my profiles and re-blogged it. You totally deserve it.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Yes. I so want this to change. I really don’t want my daughters to have to be fearful walking to their dorm room at night or walking to their car at night or any of it. And I want all of these crazy ideals we have about how women should act and how men should act and all of the pressures put on both to be done away with so we can all just be who we are supposed to be. I’ve always wondered if we approached these things differently what kind of ripple effect would they have on violent acts?

  9. I am re blogging this because I agree with every word you say. I have spoken only to very close friends and my wife about what I went through. Rapists and paedos get a sentence but who they hurt get a life sentence.

  10. Excellent post. (I’m writing from the UK, by the way)
    I am a father and grandfather. Two daughters, one granddaughter and four grandsons, have seen ab it of life and feel qualified to reply.
    Next to murder sexual crimes are the worse, some argue even more abhorrent as the victims have to live with the agony.
    I do not dwell on my own deterrents and suggestions for dealing with sexual criminals, they are rather physical shall we say and mostly to do with retribution.
    I also abhor this male double-standard that still infects our world. (MAD magazine was pointing this out in the 1960s: In an office. Comment on Male Boss ‘He’s certainly in charge’. Comment on Female Boss ‘She’s a domineering old bag’).
    My reply could turn into a long rant (my speciality) concerning the fact that the systems are still geared to ‘keep women in their place’.
    Quite frankly I despise any male who subscribes to this; they are not true men. (A true Man takes on the world, does his best by himself, his family and his community. He does not consider one superior to another).
    You scream away.
    I’ll rant.
    All the best

  11. Very well said! The 5th anniversary of my sexual assault is coming up the 24th of this month. And while the healing I’ve done has been extensive, and my life is better than it has ever been, I still get the occasional twinge of ‘what if’…what if it never happened, what if I had fought even harder, what if I had never gone out that morning, what if I hadn’t been one of the lucky ones (my attacker actually got the maximum sentence allowed for the crimes he was charged with – 6 years), what if we lived in a society that sexual assault and rape did not even exist?

    I have reposted this on my blog, At Long Last Heard.

  12. Gretchen, thank you for speaking out. I’m a dad with a 23 year old daughter and I think of her as I read your post. I want no harm to come to her. I am angered that you had to endure what you did. But it is encouraging to see you with a strong voice and courage. Keep fighting the good fight!

  13. I love this, thank you for writing what many of us are thinking, wanting to say and scream out loud. Incredibly well written! Keep spreading the word and keep screaming in your way, it’s what we have to do. Can’t go on like this.. <3

  14. I just found this post. It is about time we all scream! I am a survivor of rape at the young age of 14. It took YEARS to become open about it and takes so much to even be able to post that truth in this comment. This was a great read. Thank you <3

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