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In college I wrote a paper that talked about The Rocky Horror Picture Show live-screen acting phenomenon as part of a larger discussion about what makes a movie a “cult movie.” This was partly because while I’d wanted to write about exploitation movies, it turned out to be way harder to locate research materials on that topic in time for my deadline than to find academic writing about Rocky Horror, of which there is an actual fuckton at your local university library.

I got very smart about the topic: the way the movie aped all the different genres of midnight movies before becoming the midnight movie. I interviewed a guy who’d played Meat Loaf’s character in a live production in the south. And my brain is still full of annoying Rocky Horror trivia, like, “Did you know the Portland Rocky Horror is the longest continuously running Rocky Horror in the country?” (It’s actually a very close second, but we need our dubious distinctions.)

At 30, I was probably the world’s most precocious Rocky Horror virgin.

I’d seen bits and pieces of the movie on television, but I refused to watch the whole thing until I could see it live, because that, as far as I could tell, was how it was done. But I missed the boat. I grew up in an isolated community in southern Idaho, and Boise doesn’t have a consistent live RHPS performance (I think it might happen at Halloween sometimes). Then I went off to school in Corvallis, where I had a car, and no curfew, and lots of friends, and we talked about getting a posse together to go to Portland and see it, but didn’t ever do it.

And even though, for three years, I’ve lived a short walk away from the Clinton Street Theater, I’ve generally had other entertainment priorities, like getting in endless and pointless comment wars in various corners of the Internet, finally reading some Jane Austen so I don’t get kicked out of being a girl (or get my English degree revoked), and complaining about Burning Man people. So I went uninitiated despite ongoing vocal curiosity about the whole business, until this weekend, when my boyfriend decided it was time for me to lose my Rocky Horror virginity.

Once, when I was in college, I sat and tittered uncontrollably while one of my male housemates listed the funniest, most disgusting euphemisms for semen he could think of. These included “man mustard” and “baby batter.” I still find both those expressions hilarious for the total ick factor. My freshman year roommate used to fake loud orgasms in the background every time I talked on the phone to my parents (or my boss). I was annoyed by this, but not very, and returned the favor from time to time. The same roommate and I liked to get dressed up in the weirdest, tackiest outfits we could put together, and too much makeup, and go to the $2 movie theater to heckle the films loudly. The point being, there was a time when I would have thought dressing up in a shiny bikini and fishnets and yelling “Cum Dumpster!” and “Slut!” at a movie screen the height of Saturday-night fun.

But those days are over, and I don’t think I miss the person I was then very much. She’s been replaced by someone who probably isn’t any more likeable — someone who, if she goes seven hours without eating, alternates between nodding off and fantasizing about biting people in their faces then starts growling incoherently about burritos. The latter prompted my gentleman friend to whisk me across the street to Dot’s and put a burrito and a beer in front of me, and that is the story of how every teenager in Portland did not get murdered last Saturday night.

I generally support the notion that you’ve never too old for a happy childhood or a miserable, awkward, fumbling adolescence. That there are some adolescent shenanigans that never go out of style, like fooling around in a graveyard or in a booth at The Original Hotcake House at 3 a.m., or stealing a bunch of pears you don’t need and writing a book about it. (See, I didn’t just read academic studies of Rocky Horror in school.) My own 30th birthday was prom themed! But some things just don’t work in an adult context, like reading The Catcher in the Rye or pulling all-nighters or, apparently, Rocky Horror.

A couple of weeks ago Mike and I were having dinner on Hawthorne and he said Portland isn’t so much where young people go to retire as it is the place you go when you figure out that once you grow up, you can eat all the candy you want. There were, of course, as he said this, several dozen people in pirate costumes running what appeared to be a pirate marathon. He said, “I’m not quite done with that thought. But I’m almost done with it, and I’m ready to move on to another thought, but I don’t know what yet.”

Puberty takes so long to complete these days that I’d half hoped to see a bunch of grim, pathetic lifers Saturday. Instead, I’m pretty sure I’m technically old enough to have given birth to a couple members of the cast, and that’s Fine. It’s weirdly relieving. It’s nice that some things still just belong to the young, and that I’m not young, and that I missed out on some stuff, and I won’t be able to properly experience that stuff ever.

Anyway, I’ve also never seen Star Wars, so you should probably go ahead and freak out and trash me in the comments.

Last night Bryan and I watched The Cradle Will Rock. He had never seen it before and I hadn’t seen it in years. As far as I can tell I am the only person who knows that there is a movie wherein Bill Murray tries to teach Jack Black and Kyle Gass ventriloquism.

Let me SEO that for you ok

“BILL MURRAY JACK BLACK KYLE GASS VENTRILOQUISM”
“JACK BLACK KYLE GASS OPENLY GAY, also VENTRILOQUISM”
“1930S BILL MURRAY SAD AMAZING dummy funeral”
“WPA THEATER PROJECT ORSON WELLES’ ALL-BLACK CAST OF MACBETH”
“”double double toil and trouble” voo doo ladies orson welles”
“JOAN CUSACK AS A NON-STRAW MAN, PRINCIPLED CONSERVATIVE WHO UNWITTINGLY SETS OFF THE RED SCARE AND IS KIND OF RACIST. TOUGH. SUPER COMPASSIONATE, REALLY”
“movie where emily watson is a gray market prostitute”
“JOHN CUSACK AS NELSON ROCKEFELLER”
“Hank Azaria, borderline schizophrenic. Composes pro-union musical?”
“DID DIEGO RIVERA PAINT A MURAL FOR ROCKEFELLER CENTER WHICH GLORIFIED LENIN AND DEPICTED THE SYPHILIS CELL”
“movie where someone says christopher marlowe was a communist, they are being serious”
“John Turturro”
“JOHN TURTURRO KILLS FASCISTS”
“susan sarandon is a fascist, in a movie i saw late at night on starz once”
“How does Politics Affect Humor?”
“How does pOlitics affect Art?”
“PROBLEMATIC SEXUAL POLITICS IN THE 1930S RADICAL MOVEMENT.”
“relationship between funding and arts, in the 1930s USA, HUAC”
“Tim Robbins movies, communists homosexuals, Susan Sarandon fascist”
“YOU COULDN’T GET INTO THE COMMUNIST PARTY USA IN THE 30S IF YOU WERE GAY”
“HANK AZARIA GAY”
“Hank azaria pencil thin mustache”
“BILL MURRAY JACK BLACK KYLE GASS VENTRILOQUISM”

Really it has something for everyone.

A tale of two trainwrecks

I’ve been following this story — about a guy who was walking around Portland stoned and lost his leg to a train — pretty closely. Partly because I just think this sort of thing is awesome, but also because the fact that I think this sort of thing is awesome led to a correspondence with a guy on OkCupid last fall who mentioned in his profile that he’d recently lost his foot (and who was really, really cute). That correspondence led to having hot chocolate together (somewhat awkwardly, as he didn’t yet have his prosthetic) and that led to more hanging out, which led to my getting involved in a relationship with this gentleman. Canny readers (that is, the two of you who are not my boyfriend) might be tempted to speculate this is why I’m not here writing about my cats and bursting into tears at Dari-Mart all the time, but you can pretty much all go to hell.

My first question to my now-beau, because I’m super classy: OK, what the hell happened to your leg?

Turns out he was walking home from a friend’s CD release party, decided to take a detour on the railroad tracks, and he, too, had a disagreement with a train. THEY EVEN LOST THE EXACT SAME LEG. Yet his accident was not covered by every media outlet in town just about, plus Gawker! There wasn’t even a press release.

As A Journalist and a one-time PR hack, I’m always trying to figure out what drives particular stories. Why is one incident hot news and another, very similar, incident, not news? Sometimes the answers are easy: a little white girl gets taken out of her home by a stranger and the cable news networks can’t talk about anything else for an entire summer. A little black girl experiences a similar horror, and the media are like, whatever. Not to mention the tens of thousands of children who are abducted by family members every year (as opposed to the hundred or so stranger abductions). Is it that the rarity of these events makes them newsworthy, or that we’re more comfortable with an unknown enemy than a known one? I don’t have children, and this may be a good thing, because I can’t imagine having to impart the reality of violence on them: “Stranger Danger? Yeah, I…guess. There are some real jerks out there. But most people aren’t that interested in messing with kids they don’t know. It’s the people you already know and trust who are most likely to do horrible things to you. Statistically speaking. So keep an eye out for us. Kool-Aid?”

Because it’s been several years since I’ve been a thorn in the side of a cop tasked with distributing public information, and that used to be one of my favorite things to do, I decided to e-mail the cop whose name was listed on the press release and ask him what gives. I disclosed that I am a freelance reporter and some of the details of my gentleman friend’s accident (I didn’t call him my gentleman friend in the e-mail), but tried to emphasize that I was really just curious. It’s not like I think this represents some sort of blight and neglect on the part of the Portland Police Bureau or the local media. (I did ask my rather fair-skinned friend if he had actually lost his leg to black-on-violence and just made the train thing up to sound cool.) The PIO wrote back, “I don’t know why there wasn’t a press release about your friend’s accident.”

That made me think about getting back into PR, because I could definitely write e-mails saying, “I don’t know!” all day for the right amount of money.

(I jest. It was actually pretty nice of the guy to indulge what must have seemed to him to be a pretty weird e-mail.)

In this case, I’m not sure the discrepancy is so obvious, and I’m too close to the situation to trust my own judgment anyway. One answer is that the kid had just come back from a RAINBOW GATHERING (which got a ton of local media coverage for being a bit of a nightmare, and let’s face it, the Altamont narrative just never gets old) and was HIGH ON THE MARIJUANA and his CAT’S NAME IS GANJA (and she saw the accident, which must have been awful for her). Bryan, on the other hand, was walking home from an indie rock show and was drunk and his cat (who was not present) is named Analog. Perhaps “drunk hipster coming home from an indie rock show loses his leg to a train” IS pretty dog-bites-man, now that I think about it. BO-RING! Only Pitchfork commenters want to make fun of that shit.

Classes hadn’t started yet, I don’t think. We were all just moving into campus housing, barely settled. One afternoon we were getting ready for dinner and she came downstairs sobbing. A man who was obviously a relative was with her. He walked her out to the street and they left in a car.

I never saw her cry again after that. We made friends with different people and I didn’t get to know her well.

Many months later, amid a conversation about her and how Okay she seemed, someone said, “She and her father must not have been very close.”

From another conversation about the same person: “She needs to…let it out already.”

“A violated woman is expected to fall apart, and not just privately, either; she must disintegrate publicly, in front of friends, in front of professionals, in front of Starbucks. It satiates our craving for arena-style pathos. We want to cheer our gladiators for bravery while they hack themselves to bits in the ring. If a woman chooses not to play, but to find her own private way back, we say she’s ‘in denial.’ If we don’t see her fragment, we say that she’s not ‘dealing with it.'”
Vanessa Veselka, “The Collapsible Woman”

I’ve thought many times about the woman I talk about above and how to write about her, even though I knew her very slightly and more than 10 years ago, even though I can’t imagine the pain and rage she would feel at discovering that not only had people gossiped about something as private as her grief, but to see that I’m gossiping about it myself, and about their gossip, to my very tiny public. And while those conversations struck me as strange even at the time, and in memory seem almost unutterably cruel, I have to remember that they were had by young women, college students, unlikely themselves to have experienced any major loss. The only thing more surreal than staring at a box and realizing it contains the body (embalmed or burned) of someone who stroked your hair when you couldn’t sleep at night, is going home and realizing that there are still boxes to unpack, still tests to take, still deadlines to honor.

Places I have broken down weeping: my desk at work. The bathroom at work. My boyfriend’s couch. The Pied Cow. The sidewalk in front of the Starbucks.

I am the woman who ended a relationship, lost a job and compromised most of her close friendships and family ties in the throes of grief. I am the woman who went days at a time without changing into normal clothes or eating regular meals. I am the woman who fell apart.

Veselka, in the essay I quote above, is writing about how women in our culture are expected to react to sexual assault. She also writes:

“If you have been raped or abused, you’re scarred for life. You will never be as you were before the experience. This is also true for falling in love, getting your heart broken, going to war, having a child, or reading a great book. Everything that cuts deeply marks us. We’re all scarred for life the second that we intimately relate to the outside world. With rape, the difference is in the nature of the wound.”

As one who fell apart, I have wondered how people talk about my grief (um, and this isn’t an invitation to tell me). Now that I’m starting to feel a little more like a person I recognize, and I’m working again, and the work is in social services, I am now able identify my 2008 self as at risk for poor coping. Meaning the timing was really, really bad. Meaning it might not have been inevitable that something nearly everybody goes through tear me apart. Meaning the losses and miseries I am bound to experience in the future won’t necessarily take a chainsaw to the entire rest of my life.

I do know what people said to my face, the only one of which I’ll share with the present audience is a man’s surprise (expressed months after ending a fling with me) that I would have been interested in sex At Such a Time. The general trend of many conversations I had in the months after Mom died was that any time someone starts a sentence with, “There’s no wrong way to grieve,” the last half of the sentence is going to be, “except the way you’re doing it.” The therapist I saw briefly was fond of that platitude, adding the seemingly incongruous observation that I hadn’t really grieved the friend I lost in high school, because I didn’t know how.

I feel pretty safe saying, anyway, that rape survivors aren’t the only women whose emotional lives are public property. I feel safe saying that a single, visible breakdown followed by months of public stoicism is just as much Doing It Wrong as spiraling as far out of control as possible without dying oneself. I suspect the more accurate platitude is that there is no right way to grieve, and I don’t mean this even remotely in an “I’m OK – You’re OK” kind of way. I mean that if the universe has just sucker-punched you in some way, prepare for the assumption that whatever grief is, you’re not doing it.

I decided to blog every day for the rest of the month of June. Tomorrow I’m going to post a small and cheerful story about irises. Apparently tonight it was necessary to remind myself why I still find it necessary to be so unpleasant at times. And right out in front of everybody like this, especially now that most of my days are pleasant and I’m no longer living in a way that I’m completely ashamed of. Now that I’m no longer walking around wondering how anybody really manages to do anything, because it’s not even remotely true that I’ve suffered more than most people. Yesterday I saw a woman on the bus ever so discreetly wiping tears from her face, quite possibly looking at the rest of us wondering how on earth we manage to do anything without falling the fuck apart. If you’re that person, know that someday you actually will be all right, without having to pretend that it is or dramatize how much it isn’t.

which of the two I should find funnier:

Peanuts with the last panel removed
, or

Standalone Peanuts images with random quotations from Twitter inserted.

Both were brought to my attention tonight (though I was aware abstractly of the former). The latter is, to my understanding, newer. As we all know, the Internet regresses to the new. (Actually I’m pretty sure there is no possible class of “we all” that knows or believes that, since it makes no goddamn sense. I just really want to lead a seminar called “regressing to the new” at the next SXSWi.) Anyway, Peanutweeter has more Your Mom jokes right now.

Dear 20-year-old self,

The first thing I have to say to you is that nobody else has to live your life.

You already know this in your head. Still. I worry about the friends you’ve collected who treat you like a younger version of themselves. (I am allowed to do this because it’s true.) By the time you turn 25 you’ll have heard the expression “when I was your age” so many times it will have lost all meaning. I mean, it really will have. Through the latter years of your 20s, as you reach the ages these friends were when they first met you, you’ll notice yourself on a very different arc from theirs. The predicted marriages and children and rehabs and their attendant epiphanies are not as inevitable as everyone says they are. Nor is anything anyone tells you about your career. When I sit down to work on my resume, I think about you sitting on the floor of your study room with a magazine, some cardboard and an X-Acto knife, obsessed with collage, thrilled at trying to turn an about-to-be-recycled mess into some sort of cohesive image.

You’ll figure out soon enough that the things you’re figuring out are rather different from the things everyone told you you would figure out soon enough. Stop trusting those people. I also don’t recommend taking too seriously the advice of anyone who treats you like a slightly goofier or more glamorous or meaner or quieter version of themselves. Not that it isn’t flattering and charming of them to see you that way. Not that you can’t be friends with them.

Just remember that if someone sees you as a younger or dumber or cooler version of themselves, when they talk to you, that’s who they’re talking to: themselves. They’re just doing it in a context that makes them get to feel insightful and sound like an oracle. And they’re not oracles. They’re just people talking. And you, by the way, have a better handle on your life than you think.

That said? When I think about you and the next 10 years of your life, I think about the Aesop’s fable about the dog with the bone in its mouth, who crosses a bridge over a pond, sees his reflection in the water, and decides to go after its bone, losing everything. Try to be a little more patient with yourself and with the universe. Stop being so willing to chuck everything just because something else seems like a slightly better idea, because things aren’t exactly working out right now.

Conversely, don’t let your pride boss you around. Don’t stay in terrible situations for stupid reasons. Don’t say, “Well, this job is a nightmare, but I can stick it out for another year and then get the hell out of here.” Take the job if you have to (by the way: you have to, and don’t ever kid yourself that this is not the case) and start sending out resumes anyway. When you see the storm clouds rolling in, don’t stay outside and get soaked to prove a point. Buy a fucking umbrella. Get under a tree.

Don’t stay in relationships or pursue them just for the sake of making something stick. Don’t worry so much about your inability to make things stick: it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. Make friends constantly, even in places and circumstances where you don’t intend to throw down roots. Take a year off in the middle of college to establish residency, work and travel. Drink a little more now and a little less later. And stop making yourself so busy that you don’t have time to clean your own goddamn room.

One of the more amusing side effects of getting older is that when I remember myself at certain ages — or just stumble across material evidence of all those people I used to be — I’m less and less likely to recognize them, and quite a bit less likely to be mortified by the strangeness of their ideas and the foolishness of their outfits.

When I was 15 I tried to write a play called The Conference of the Selves, about a young woman who had tried to kill herself. But her soul got pulled into some purgatorial board room with the souls of herself at various ages, with a mediator who would help her try to integrate them all into one whole identity. If the selves all came to some sort of agreement, this girl would get her life back. See.

I was thinking about it recently and for the first time since I had the good sense to be abandon it (that is, about three pages in to the actual writing), I was more impressed by than annoyed with the brain that would think of something like that.

Sure, it’s silly and solipsistic, but here in the silly, solipsistic 21st century, people imagine conversations with their younger selves all the time.

I just walked past a car with a bumper sticker that said, “The next time you think you’re perfect, try walking on water.” Which brought up the memory of passing angry notes in second grade with my best friend after a fight. “Nobody’s perfect,” I wrote. I have no clue now what action I was defending.

“Well, some people are,” Sara countered..

I wrote, “Not even God!” which totally shut her up.

Later, I told someone else about this conversation, someone whose religious education was a little more coherent than mine, and I was rapidly informed that I was wrong. It turns out that not only was God perfect, that was sort of the entire point of God, really, if you thought about it.

The thing is that it’s rarely occurred to me that I’d even want to walk on water, except perhaps on particularly wet days when I’m wearing nice shoes.

Of course, I also don’t think I’m perfect. In fact, per the instructions I’ve been given since birth, I take a little time every evening to catalog the day’s failings and then to chide myself for being far too insecure.

So at the risk of giving my childhood self too much credit when she was really just trying to win a fight (though hey, props for the bitchiness, too), I’m impressed than an eight-year-old had, I think, some notion of life being far too messy for perfection to even be a meaningful concept, really.

At 30, I’m so set in my agnosticism that colloquial talk about God is a little off-putting to me, particularly when it’s eight-year-old me doing it. But then, I sometimes revert to a suspicion that someone is in charge of the whole shebang after all, and that he ought to have been kept out away from the liquor cabinet. I mean, he isn’t sleeping it off for weeks on end, he’s out crashing his car into things and prank-calling evangelical preachers to tell them the world is ending a couple of weekends from now.

If God exists, he’s the exact sort of person I would have dated a few times two years ago, then ended the relationship with a shouting match wherein we each accuse the other of being needy. While she lived in the same house I live in now and knew a lot of the same people, I’m as alienated from my 28-year-old self as I am from the person I was at four. Both were to some degree impaired, one by blinding grief, excessive drinking and an imploded sense of entitlement, the other by a short-lived but deeply-felt desire to one day own a horse.

The assumption driving my play and other hypotheticals like it is that when two versions of the same person sit in the same room together, some sort of wisdom will be imparted. I see no reason this has to be the case. My 15-year-old self thought her three-year-old self might have something to teach her, but my three-year-old self thought your clothes grew with you.

I see no reason I shouldn’t inform three-year-old Christen that actually your stuffed animals DO come alive when you fall asleep at night, but they never talk about anything interesting (“mostly taxes and stuff”).

My 16-year-old self was pretty highly strung and paranoid and it makes a lot of sense to me that I should have just told her that it’s not that everyone finds her boring or annoying like she imagines, just that she is literally invisible to everyone but her parents and a few teachers, and should test this theory by driving naked to school one day.

Like most twentysomethings, I made as many good choices as bad ones (and failed myself in some situations by not choosing at all). Clearly the best I could do my past self is to tell her to do everything just slightly and arbitrarily differently. “Don’t sleep with that guy. He’s a douche. Sleep with THAT one, for he is a slightly different kind of douche and will fuck you up in a slightly different way. This crummy job will take aaway a completely different piece of your soul than that one. Give it a shot, then quit with no notice. Also, wear less flattering clothes and dye your hair a color that really, really doesn’t suit you.

“I’m thinking black.”

If Michelle Obama talks about obesity and healthy eating and then eats a 1,500-calorie rib dinner on vacation, she’s a hypocrite. (Correction: A black hypocrite. Eating soul food.)

But if she eats a 600-calorie ancho-chile (translation: what?) bison rib dinner on vacation, braised with kale raised in a community garden, she’s not a hypocrite, she’s elitist and out of touch. When I was a kid, growing up in a tiny, conservative farm town, eating local produce, meat, eggs and cheese went unquestioned as The Right Thing To Do. That was some years before the word “locavore” was coined and before farmer’s markets and produce stands were simultaneously hailed as the hallmark of a food revolution — and dismissed as the exclusive provenance of rich urbanites.

This is why you can’t win a culture war. A target is a target no matter how many degrees it’s spun.

First: anecdote. Next up: data. After that: motherfucking WikiLeaks.

Anecdote: when I was in college I knew someone who gave me the serious cold chills. OK, I knew more than one person in college who gave me the serious cold chills. A large part of my college experience was learning to trust my cold chills and act on them, even when the circumstance might have dictated cheerful politesse.

I tried to be friends with him at first. Hell, I even flirted with him a little bit, though nothing ever materialized (OK, something did materialize: he called me a slut). Then something changed. My gut told me it was time to be very, very cautious with this man. And I was. And I told other women he was likely to come into contact with to be careful too. (Most of them were well ahead of me on this.) Other people in our university-owned housing unit complained at a higher level.

Months later, dude was caught trying to rape a girl who was new to our living situation. I’d never talked to her before this happened. He got booted.

The response among our social circle to this news was split. I was both unsurprised and deeply upset, as were many of my female friends. The guys in our circle…seemed not to know what to think. Some of them were upset but continued to hang out with him after he got booted (which I was fine with; isolation never straightened anyone’s shit out, and that guy’s shit surely needed some straighteneing). Some of them said they gave him the benefit of the doubt. Even though he did not deny what had happened.

Dear readers, all two of you, I want to tell you that I puzzled over this for years. I wrote an article a year later about the men’s anti-rape movement and men’s rape education. I couldn’t figure out why it was so easy for some fellas — who I knew! and was friends with! and they were nice! — to shrug their shoulder or even deny what seemed to all parties involved to have been a pretty open-and-shut scenario.

And then a few weeks ago, for some reason, I was thinking about this again, and I ran the numbers everyone knows: one in four of us is likely to be raped or molested by age 18. More over the course of a lifetime. Which means it’s happened to several of the women you know. And if these women have shared their stories with you, or if you’ve read the crime statistics, you further know that most of knew their attacker. I’m guessing you also know that most rapes are never reported to any authority besides the anonymous, non-consequence-bearing Department of Justice crime survey (which also asks people whether they reported crimes, which is where that oft-quoted stat comes from).

Not news, right?

But here’s the other thing all that stacks up to, something I swear I’ve never heard in this rundown of numbers: not only do you know someone, rather several someones, who’ve been raped. You probably also know someone who’s raped someone. Or several someones. And they’re all walking around free.

Funnily enough, nobody ever talks about that.

The almost-rapist I knew was, as I said, identifiably creepy. He ranted about women being cockteases. He rarely made and could not hold eye contact. He groped breasts during the aforementioned shoulder rubs. He was a really good guitar player, but otherwise didn’t have a lot going for him. In other words: easy enough to avoid, easy enough to ostracize.

But plenty of rapists are normal, even likeable, dudes. They’re dudes people like. They’re charming, funny men in leadership positions on campuses. They work in vegan bakeries or Wal-Marts or run software companies. They’re dudes you’ve met, shaken hands with, thought were funny as hell, bummed cigarettes from at the bus stop. Gone on dates with. Made out with. Fucked, consensually. Or maybe not consensually.

The point is: sexual assault is something that happens. A lot. And like everything else that lots and lots of people do, there are lots and lots of types of people who do it. And invariably, those people have other hobbies and do other things. Most are walking free. Few of them might even realize they did anything wrong. Others have elaborately constructed rationales, or simply don’t care. But having committed the act, as we’ve established, doesn’t define these folks. They have other hobbies. They have jobs. Odds are, you’ve encountered a bona fide rapist walking down the street. Odds are, he didn’t rape you. Odds are far better that he bent down to scratch your dog between the ears, made that clicking sound with his tongue, and you thought he was a pretty decent guy, and then you took your dog home and your rapist acquaintance went to work.

And I guarantee you, some of the work done by the rapists in the world is work you appreciate: they make awesome vegan muffins that you buy every morning on your way to work. They make fantastic music or movies you love.

And some of these guys, they fucking run websites. Websites with interesting and important missions.

No, Assange hasn’t been convicted of anything. Yes, it’s a politicized crime because of who he is. But if you honestly believe he’s incapable of rape because he’s Mr. WikiLeaks Whoa, look around you. Open your ears. Take names.

I use an iPhone app to track my cycles. I joke that this makes me feel like a badass cyborg, but what it actually makes me is a woman sitting at the bus stop hitting buttons with disgusting pink frowny faces to indicate my mood. The graphic indicating breast tenderness is a fork. None of my guy friends understand why I think this is funny.

Last week I got mad at Amazon because it recommended I buy The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Great Sex. Tonight it recommended I buy Scotch tape, dishwasher detergent, a book about the New World Order and the international banking conspiracy, and another book asserting that the moon is a manmade object. I realize this is the sort of thing that happens when your purchasing history includes The Turner Diaries and the collected works of Charles Fort. The fact that I pay this much attention to Amazon’s recommendations certainly suggests that I’m an idiot, and that my sex life is on the lackluster. Fine, Amazon. You win.

Scotch tape?