My name is Laura Bullock. I am freshman at Davidson college and this is my portfolio for my Humanities course. This course encourages us to explore a variety of topics and disciplines within the humanities through the theme of revolution. The course has granted us certain amounts of freedom to take the curriculum and connect it to our personal interests. You will find that my passion for fighting rape culture often bleeds into my portfolio. In order to best understand this passion, I wanted to start not by telling you arbitrary facts about my life but sharing the seeds of this journey. This following story contains discussion of sexual violence and could be triggering for some readers.
I would say it all began my sophomore year, but I can see now that it started the moment I was born if not centuries ago. It started with the tendency of human beings to use their power to create false division. False division then creates subjugation. Years ago, some man decided he was superior to some woman. Maybe it was Adam and Eve or two random cave people, either way the domino of misogyny fell and led to ages of women’s oppression. Despite many waves of feminism, many issues relating to the oppression of women by men persist. This oppression becomes especially viscous as it intersects with the racism, homophobia, transphobia, and the technological advancement of society. These technological advancements are where my journey begin.
Since preschool, I was obsessed with boys. I craved attention and affection. As I aged, I realized what I most wanted was intimate human connection. I was dealt a bad hand when it came to friendships in my younger years, This left me with a hole the size of a golfball in heart. I always wanted to fill it with romance. Simultaneously, I came into my sexuality around the 8th grade. I was a hopeless romantic and desired a physical relationship. I dreamed of boyfriends. I put myself out there. I always got rejected. I was desperate until early in my sophomore year I found an app that allowed me to meet boys online called “yellow”. The summer of my sophomore year began a two year journey of me being pressured into sexual acts, being used, and learning how to have the strength to say no. Around my senior year I had finally quit giving in to things that made me uncomfortable. I learned to experience sexual exploration on my own terms. I stood up for myself fiercely and did not put up with anything less than what I deserved. That was until Mexico.
On my senior mission trip to Mexico I was sexually assaulted. It was a boy I had been crushing on for seven years. He always flirted with me, but refused to ever take me out. I always knew he wanted me sexually, but did not care about me romantically. As we walked the isles of the grocery store in Mexico, I told him I felt toyed with, belittled, objectified. His only response was “It’s hard to know what is too much.” On the van ride from the store to a Taco restaurant. He sat on top of me and we began flirting with each other. Suddenly he reached around pinning my neck up against the seat with his arm. He released me, then he took my hand and placed it on his penis. I did not know what to do. I had finally gotten what I thought I wanted for seven years, but it was on a church van full of people, one of those people being an infant child in its mothers arms who was still recovering from the birth. I complied with what he wanted. He then lifted his shorts so that I saw his penis and then put my hand inside of them. Again, I complied then quickly removed my hand. I was confused, shocked, and frozen. When we stepped out of the bus I began to process what had happened. A sexual act that I did not desire or consent to, sexual assault. I felt a tower of cards fall down in my gut. I cried uncontrollably for the next hour. In my mind everything got twisted by societal ideas as it always does and i began to blame myself. I fell into a mental spiral of self-hatred. When we returned to base I told one of my church leaders, but intentionally tried to frame it objectively in order to remove bias from the situation. She called it “a situation of shared responsibility.” She promised me confidentiality then proceeded to tell the head pastor who told the rest of leaders on the trip, including the assailants mom. They then confronted the boy who denied it. There were three days left on the trip in which i had to partake in group activities with my assailant who was openly aggressive towards me until he was forced to stop I had to share a room with his mom who did not believe me. This broke me. I hated myself. I could not look in the mirror. I cried every time I was alone. I had to pretend I was ok every time I was not. I apologized to all the adults and to his mom. I apologized to his mom for being assaulted by him. Fucked up isn’t it?
I went home, talked to tramua-informed people and began processing the event as a sexual assault. Nine months out I am still grappling with the effects of it. At Davidson I was assaulted again. Several of my friends have also had acts of sexual violence committed against them since our arrival to campus. Each time I fill with sadness, then anger, then an unstoppable drive to fight. Many pieces of this portfolio serve as the foundation of that fight and as a way for me to heal.
As you read through this portfolio the connection may not always be obvious. The primary focus of my portfolio is sexual violence, but this connects to course material in unexpected ways. For example, one of my paintings featured on the bodies page depicts tally marks. This represents the way sexual objectification quantifies people. In my writing about ethical journalism, I also discuss how genocide statistics quantify people. Think of things like this as you explore. How are bodies, objectification, violence, and statistics all related? Take away what you will, but please understand, YOUNG PEOPLE NEED HELP. We need a new sexual revolution. One that does not judge, one that sees people as valuable, one that requires consent. We need education and change. We need to teach everyone that NO ONE is just a body.
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