I read this article: Is the United States the Only Country Where More Men Are Raped Than Women? and was reminded of an incident that happend about thirteen years ago when I was living in Costa Rica. Then I started to write about patriarchy but kept thinking about my Costa Rica story, so I decided to go there.
This is a day for a story.
I was with a Tica (Costa Rican) friend visiting her family’s old house in the mountains that no one really lived in. It was beautiful up there, foggy and green, like a town in a rain forrest. There was a cantina and a store and that’s all I remember. I don’t even remember the name of the town, but it was small potatoes.
Her uncle lived there in the town and had begun building his own house, but hadn’t finished it. Her uncle’s wife had left him recently and my friend had told me he was crazy, but I don’t think she knew much more than that. He wasn’t staying at the house where we were staying, which was probably almost a mile up a windy gravely road past cows and horses and it was rustic, but with a gorgeous view of the valley. This was all years ago and some of the details and order of events are blurry now, but this is how I remember it.
We walked down to the cantina area to buy food and Guaro, Costa Rica’s liquor, and her uncle drove up. We talked to him for a few minutes and he told us to climb in, he’d take us on a tour. I was in the back and my friend was in the front. It became clear pretty quickly that he was drunk as he zoomed down the windy roads. We convinced him to take us back to the cantina where we got out. He wasn’t thrilled that we didn’t want to ride with him anymore and had made him bring us back. Then he got it into his head that we were sleeping together, which wasn’t too far off, but we actually weren’t. We were just good friends.
I don’t know what was said before this or anything, but this next part I remember clearly:
It was foggy and damp, but not raining. We were outside the cantina and he lunged for me, picking me up over his shoulders and carried me to his car. I kicked him and yelled at him to put me down, but it was like a dream where you can’t do anything. It was like a cartoon where my legs were kicking but it wasn’t phasing him. Nothing was changing. He had picked me up and was throwing me in the back of his car, shutting the door and driving off. In fact, I was trying to get out while he was taking off, when suddenly I was pulled back the other way, out the other door. It was my friend and someone else who I can’t remember at all. They pulled me through the door, out onto the road, the door slammed and he drove off.
Luckily I never saw him again. I don’t know where he was taking me, what his plan was or if he had one, and I don’t want to know. I guess thinking about patriarchy triggered the memory because he was acting with all of his privilege to pick me up and take me off. And drunk is not an excuse. Neither is homophobia/lesbophobia. He didn’t give me a choice about whether I wanted to go with him. He didn’t care if I wanted to go, he was taking me. It’s as if the system of patriarchy was a person and he tried to carry me off.
And my friend helped me escape. I was doing all I could to save myself, but I needed help. Women help each other. I think it has been a brilliant coping skill that makes us care for others, but I think it is a beautiful thing.
Under patriarchy, which is a system where women are second class and oppressed, we have had to pay attention always to the big man in charge of us and above us. We have had to be on call for men’s needs. I think we started off human, just like men, but with the warped system, we have adapted and have turned into caretakers. We take care of others.
Do not read this wrong and think I am saying ‘yay to patriarchy because of it I am great’ No- absolutely not. I am saying women have adapted to oppression in a way that has made us stronger and often caretakers. Not all women are caretakers, but we do care for and about others an awful lot and that is amazing!
Grrl Code: Breakin’ it down- it’s about women being strong. And in the case of my story, strong for other women. Helping other women. Working together to not let patriarchy kidnap us and take us into it’s lair.