Rape Culture

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.


shutterstock_156729575Rape culture is back in the news; this time it’s about the casting couch once occupied by Harvey Weinstein, and the dozens of ingénues who were lured in with perilous promises. These women tell a universal story, and frankly it doesn’t matter who the man is, or the woman or girl involved—it’s always the same setup: a male dominates and uses a female sexually with whatever tools he has at his disposal. They include coercion, threats, retaliation, promises of rewards, or the responsibility of families or liasons being broken apart if she tells . . . and sometimes death.

Me, too . . .

Sexual abuse and rape are as common as house nails. Get a group of women together, and although it is a dark secret, if the conversation is safe, and if there is enough wine, there will be at least three stories in a group of twelve.

I remember the word “rape” being uttered in my sixth grade English class by a boy, followed by guffaws from his compatriots. I was confused: I had never heard that word, although I understood it viscerally.

I had never heard that word, although I understood it viscerally. 


So yes, me, too. I was three or four years old when the touching began, and six when I was raped. The perpetrator was my grandfather, a man who was brilliant, blind, talented, and afflicted. My grandmother, his wife, found me wounded and curled at the bottom of the bed. She plunked me into the kitchen sink and scrubbed me like a potato—kept me for an extra week to heal.

I thought she hated me, and it confused me when that Christmas, she gave me a sophisticated gold watch, with a thin black strap

I thought she hated me, and it