Go fuck yourself, Stephen Fry
Prefacing this with a warning. Not a trigger warning per se, but a warning that unlike Stephen Fry, I will not be discussing child sexual abuse in infantilising language of a posh git who probably still says, ‘botty’ and ‘pee pee’.
In an interview on The Rubin Report, massive Twitter sook and middling comic talent, Stephen Fry, took aim at the ‘regressive left’ and the use of trigger warnings and safe spaces, using people like me as his arrowhead.
No, Stephen. Not so much.
No, Stephen, ‘uncle’ (in my case, my maternal grandfather) didn’t touch me, ‘in a nasty place’. That’s the thing about sexual abuse. Perhaps the worst thing. Beautiful parts of the body, where the glories of sexual pleasure spring from, are first explored not by a fumbling teenage love, but by an adult. It is criminal. No child should be sexualised at the age of seven. I was. By someone who made those parts of me his. Who told me I was special. It took me the better part of 20 years to allow myself to hear that word without wanting to vomit, to view sex as something other than a perfunctory task, something I was ‘good at’ — not something I had a right to enjoy.
No, Stephen, I wasn’t ‘touched’. I was brutalised. Raped digitally, orally, and yes — non-consensual penetrative sex. For years. The only way I survived it was to dissociate, to escape to alternate realities. When, as a teenager, I had what should have been my first sexual experiences, when boys kissed me and told me I was special, visions of off-the-chain horror came back to me. And when it did, I wanted to die rather than let anyone know — because I was disgusting to the core. That went on until I was 30.
No, Stephen, I don’t pity myself. It’s not self-pity that keeps me awake in the early morning. It’s self-hate, an unshakeable belief that I am not worth anything more than what I was to my grandfather. I can write this because I have come to terms with what happened. It’s people like you, who diminish child sexual abuse with childlike speech, and those who prefer to think about it in the context of institutions so they can watch movies about it, who ignore the reality. More than 40 per cent of Australian children who are sexually abused are the victims of a male relative, father or stepfather. That percentage soars to more than 50 per cent for female victims. But please, continue telling yourselves that this is a problem for churches and not happening in the house next door, or that your fathers, husbands, brothers and colleagues aren’t the people doing it.
No, Stephen, I don’t need shielding from Shakespeare, or any other artists. You know why they are called trigger warnings? Because I read and hear things and it’s like a gun going off to my temple. Example: I left a job I loved at a non-profit suffering severe depression, because three months earlier my manager joked about paedophilia and I couldn’t say, ‘hey, please don’t do that’. I let her get away with it. Well, fuck that. People like her, and people like you, punch down. I am going to stand tall. I don’t need a safe place. More like the other way around. I will not let you infantilise me, and you do not get to choose how people get through their day, especially those whose safety and trust has been violated in the cruellest way.
Go fuck yourself, Stephen Fry.