I Wrote a MeToo Memoir and I'm Being Punished for It

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The Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations didn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets nominated despite the fact that more people have come forward to expose him for drugging and gang raping women as well as shoving his penis in a woman’s face. 

I, an Iranian-American woman, was drugged and raped in October 2005 by the guys at Rolling Stone magazine, a fact that remains a well-known secret inside the publishing industry, which has done nothing but try to bury what happened. The Kings County courts did much the same.

It’s important to remember that being a rapist is not a Republican disease like many liberal outlets will have you believe. After all, Rolling Stone is a left-leaning publication, not just a music magazine. Misogyny is so deeply rooted in American culture, politics and even the courts that it’s ridiculous to make this issue be at all about party politics.  

In December 2017, I had no recourse but to self-published my MeToo memoir, Writing and Madness in a Time of Terror. Agents wanted to have nothing to do with me. It was a punch in the gut to learn that most outlets, including the The New York Times, wouldn’t review the book. I do understand why publications refuse to consider self-published books: It’s costly to hire an editor to rifle through piles of terrible writing to weed out a handful of books. But my story is different. Most newspapers, including the New York Times, refused me despite reviewing James Lasdun’s book, Give Me Everything You Have, which did nothing but victim blame me.

I suffered a seven-year long psychosis after being raped. During those years, I oscillated between two beliefs: that James Lasdun, my former professor and established author, was my savior and soul mate or that he was the man who raped me after I’d been drugged by the guys at Rolling Stone. I emailed him thousands of nonsensical emails and wrote negative reviews about his offensive and misogynist books, which applaud voyeurism and coercion. As ugly as I was during that time, psychosis is quite common after sexual trauma. I felt punished by the media for not letting me tell my side of the story. Why is Mr. Lasdun so invested in silencing me? He writes in the voice of an S&M obsessed serial killer who poses as a kind and feminism-friendly professor.

When I saw the photograph of Christine Blasey Ford testifying in front of a sea of white men in suits, I couldn’t help but think of how the Kirkus review of my memoir read as if it had been written – or edited – by a misogynist slut-shaming white man. I paid Kirkus Reviews $500 for an unbiased review of my memoir, and they immediately dropped James Lasdun’s last name and said that there’s no “redemption,” in my memoir. My story of how I struggled to stay alive after being drugged and brutally raped by people I trusted was suddenly reduced to an act of “stalking” by Kirkus, a word that has since rendered me completely incapable of finding another job. 

Not only was the Kirkus assessment the equivalent of spitting in a survivor’s face, it was Islamophobic to use the word “redemption” and misogynist in the implication that I need to seek forgiveness for the rape and the ugliness of how I unraveled afterwards. 

Finding an attorney to convince Kirkus to take out the stalking allegation did little good. The only part of the review they were willing to change was the part about the four years of statutory rape I endured beginning at age 15. Claiborne Smith, the editor, initially refused to change the phrase “abusive relationship with a teenage boy,” to “an abusive relationship with a 19-year-old man” but still refused to acknowledge that it was rape. Statutory rape does not a relationship make. In fact, statutory rape is the most underestimated and most prevalent form of rape in the U.S, which claims to have the equal rights for women. 

By the time the reality set in that men in the upper echelon of society, like Claiborne Smith and James Lasdun, thought that I deserved to be drugged and thrown around like a ragdoll, another man, wrote a review also saying that because my rapist was 19, and I continued to give in to his demands for sex, the situation didn’t qualify as statutory rape and my book doesn’t qualify as a MeToo story.

The press keeps talking about Christine Blasey Ford as a credible witness. For me, phrases like “credible witness” only uphold society’s deeply ingrained belief that promiscuous women deserve sexual violence, especially if they are women of color or disabled women. What if Ford had had one too many lovers in her twenties and was as mixed up as I was? Does it matter that a 19-year-old man, who raped me for four years, shattered my normal sexual development?

The bottom line is that American men are given the pass to rape promiscuous women. Clearly, it’s still permissible in court to shamelessly dig into a woman’s sexual history if she’s screaming foul play. Why do we do this? Because we still stone women we feel are not fit for society. We fear female sexuality. Meanwhile, we confuse young women by glorifying sirens in Hollywood and in music videos. The whole concept of “getting what she was asking for” is a misogynist contradiction that’s even repeated by women, who are equally the advocates and harbingers of slut shaming and victim blaming (just read my Goodreads reviews). I have to say that even sluts like myself are discriminating about their sexual preferences and don’t deserve to get raped or punished with silence when they do.