Everyone’s in an uproar because Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland staged her own rape. The short version is, having covered many accounts of sexual assault around the globe, McClelland found herself experiencing PTSD via transferrance. When conventional therapy didn’t help, in an attempt to alleviate it herself she staged her own rape. Big deal, right? Well, when she went on to write about it, that’s when things got interesting. It was reported that McClelland also owned upfront that she is into rough sex, so clearly she’s already familiar with the ego trappings around sexual power plays and physical struggle dynamics. In short, she’s grown. She can do whatever the fuck she wants, especially if she intuitively feels it may benefit her life in some way. Hers is an extreme approach to dealing with a fragile psychological state, sure, but I wonder how many people criticizing her have been raped. How many people endure PTSD and are so captive to it they take no risk (however benign or extreme) to relieve it? Because people who have managed to overcome it will tell you overcoming PTSD requires risk. It’s nothing short of a leap of faith.
Several weeks ago I listened to an interview in which a woman recounted her experience of hours held hostage and threatened with rape. In her debriefing she told how the police officers and a crisis counselor aggressively interrogated her immediately after her rescue, which at the time she thought was horrifically insensitive and invasive. She commented on feeling secondarily wounded from the time with the counselor, who repeatedly had her recall in stinking, vivid detail every aspect of the time with her captors. What she noted immediately after the hours-long debriefing was that she no longer felt any emotional connection to her trauma. Moreover, she felt no lingering effects of trauma, and didn’t even years later. She wholly credited the tactics of the crisis counselor and his immediate intervention after her assault with saving her from prolonged, chronic post-trauma.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the state of being stuck in an emotional and psychological frequency that is jacked way beyond what is considered normal. The key to healing it is finding the way to take the sting out of the memory of the event, such that the person doesn’t feel s/he is reliving it over and over. For some, time heals all wounds, which can mean decades of emotionally separating from the event in order to put it in some kind of emotional perspective. For those of us who don’t have years to stop living, it takes a willingness to stare into the trauma, itself, and find our unique way to face it down.
That’s what MacClelland did. Why the hell can’t a woman say she took responsibility for her own state of being and that in doing so, bettered herself ? Why can’t we celebrate her for it? She’s not saying everyone should do it. She’s not saying some people should do it. She’s not saying anybody should do it. She’s saying she did it, and that for her, it worked. McClelland is being criticized–nastily–for how she dealt with it. These same people forget what happened to compel her to act. Gods forbid someone use a healing method others don’t understand and it works. Our culture needs to grow the fuck up, not just about our emotional and psychological wellbeing and how to maintain it, but also our sexual frigidity. This experience shows how much the public doesn’t understand PTSD and can’t discern consensual acts. What’s most telling is our need to drag down those of us who have triumphed.
One thought on “A Triumphant F*cking Faux Pas”
Hi there — visiting by way of the She Writes blog hop.
This is an interesting idea, and one I hadn’t heard about (though I follow some Mother Jones stuff). On the one hand, it sounds like McClelland found a way to alleviate the PTSD she was experiencing. On the other hand, I have to question whether staging your own rape is really the same thing as being raped (er, not that I would want her to be raped, and not that I think going through it would “cure” her PTSD). What I’m saying is, I’m not sure a sexual encounter that a “victim” engineered would be the equivalent of a true rape. I imagine it wouldn’t be.