Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Have you ever done this thing? This one:
“Hey, I didn’t have a mole here, did I? I don’t — OH JESUS FUCK IT’S A TICK. FUCKING TICKS.” There are sounds of stamping, flailing, jumping and thin hiccuping sobs of gurgling panic. “FUCKING TICK. DIE. DIE.” Toilet flushes, or a match hisses. “Ha-ha, ha. Ticks. Why the fuck do ticks exist? They just … suck blood! They don’t even kill anything, they just sit around and suck blood until they explode in big fat blobs of my blood or give you that ugly rash or or OH MY GOD THE HEAD IS STILL — ”
Cue a crash.
Have you ever done that thing?
I personally do it all the time: ticks, spiders, mosquitoes, jellyfish, fraternities (IT’S A JOKE maybe), dogs smaller than bunnies, dogs larger than small ponies.
I seriously question — usually while nursing itchy red bumps — what possible niche these irritating to thank-christ-for-insurance beasties fill.
Crabs sometimes fall into that category, although they’re surely more of an annoyance than a threat. You’re strolling the beach, in the squelchy wet sand, and suddenly something pinches your toe, and it’s bleeding, and there’s salt water and ouch. When you look down, there’s a tiny white crab, waving its eye-stalks up at you with a pleased foamy smile.
What do crabs even eat, you fume. What do they even DO? Do they feel anything, or are they just around to pinch toes and bubble saucily?
As a crustacean — and not just a crustacean, a militant one, the kind that is aware they’re a crustacean and is quite loud and cartwheels about it, on the off-chance another hard-shelled tadpole might struggle onto the shore — I have to admit: I do like to bubble saucily.
Pinching toes, however, is a means to an end.
Fact of the matter is, some stuff is buried so deep in the sand, so tiptoed around and leapt over, it’s not coming up without a lot of owww. My philosophy is pinch, hard. Yeah, people get mad. People get loud and put their thumbs in their ears. But, sometimes, they do some research, to prove you shouldn’t go pinching human toes. Always, folks have to at least cursorily listen to what you have to say about the necessity of pinches. And then, maybe, the pinch travels up to their chest, where they can’t ignore it, and suddenly you have a real conversation, with questions and compassion on both sides — and maybe even some learning, some linked arms (and claws).
I’m a Militant Crab, and this column is dedicated to discussion, commentary, critique and general furious gesturing at rape culture but, predominantly, abuse culture. A vastly simplified definition of rape culture is a complex of beliefs and institutional power/s that condones, supports or ignores sexual violence, often based on gender stereotypes, victim-blaming and stereotypes of sexual assault; abuse culture condones, supports or ignores abuse — whether it be verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial, psychiatric, institutional, et al.. As you might guess, these two systems are closely linked and deeply dependent on one another. I urge you to check out the links for much more sophisticated explorations of these ideas, especially if the terminology is unfamiliar.
What I write on, specifically, will jump from the very public (Paterno, the Pater, Swarthmore hirself, The Shining … ) to the very personal.
I am a survivor of child abuse and acquaintance sexual assault. I was finally formally diagnosed with PTSD last semester, right after I split from my parents’ house and my parents, permanently. As you might guess, this kind of column seems ever more pressing and necessary for purely selfish reasons.
Before I leave you (and me) to ponder what cheery subject I’ll dissect next week, two caveats about this whole endeavor:
1. This column may offend, trigger and/or unsettle you. I am opting out of columns carrying individual trigger warnings for a variety of complicated reasons. Foremost, I can’t hope to predict what is and isn’t triggering material, and all triggers are valid. Please take care of yourselves.
2. I will not be so much as looking at the comments, let alone responding to them. I’m sorry, y’all, long experience has taught me that quagmire that can have very real effects on my health. If you have something you want to say directly to me (criticism, raw fury, a request for resources, suggestions for content, a simple hello), please contact me at email@example.com, or my Swat address, if you’re a clever duckling. I will try to respond to every email, and I’m always available for meals. Please do feel free to leave comments. Talk amongst yourselves, etc.
I am actually incredibly excited and nervous and sharp-toothed over being able to share some stories with you and generate a little more awareness around two epidemics in the US and the larger world.
Catch you all next week.