Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Bunny Trap

Yesterday I was in my favorite nail salon when a lovely woman in her sixties asked me why I didn’t have my fingernails done. Relishing the chance to talk about the full-force self-defense fighting I teach for a living (teaching eye-strike to forty-five girls a day does not bode well for manicures!) I told her about IMPACT and my students. Without missing a beat the woman said “I’m so glad you teach that. I was raped.”

She went on to tell me about her youth as a Playboy Bunny back in the ring-a-ding Rat Pack days and the famous musician who asked her out. Indifferent, she went on a date with him and her gut instinct was confirmed: the guy was snoozeville. When he told her he needed to stop by his place for a jacket she was leary. She prudently stayed by the door until he casually asked for her opinion of his redecorated bedroom. When she hesitantly peered through the doorway he tackled her into the bedroom and raped her. When she finally got away and into a cab outside, she was crying and covered with bruises. The cabby wanted to know who he needed to beat up for her but she restrained him and begged him just to drive away. He looked at the apartment, sighed and said “Oh yeah, I know who lives there.”

The former Bunny said that the next week the musician came into the Bunny Club again and asked her when they were going out again. Astonished, she blurted “Are you nuts? You heard me yelling ‘No, no, please, no.’ Why would I go out with you again? You’re lucky I don’t call the cops.” To which the musician cavalierly replied “You were fine, that’s what all the girls say.” Though the Bunny as smiling as she calmly told her story, I was chilled. This famous man had essentially admitted to being a serial rapist.

He told her he’d just keep showing up until she relented and went out with her again. She asked to see his Bunny Club card and when he smugly handed it over, she broke it so he wouldn’t be allowed back in the club. After he left, several other Bunnies who’d been watching the exchange related their similar experiences with the man. Yup, serial rapist.

And besides the outrage I feel when I hear about any rape, this story carried with it a sense of disbelief. Don’t hot musicians have women throwing themselves at them? Of all men a guy like that feels he has to resort to rape for sex? It just underscores the fact that rape is not about sex, it’s about power.

For years this beautiful, sparkling woman carried a sense of disempowerment over letting him get away with her assault and rape and a sense of and guilt about never reporting him and not knowing how many other girls he went on to inflict himself on. So a few years back when he was in the news again for assaulting a girlfriend, she called the prosecuting attorney and told her story at long last to someone who could do something positive with it.

I gave her my card and told her I would love to have her in a class. I hope she calls me. I’m so proud of her for finally coming forward. I am so honored she chose to tell me her story – a complete stranger who happens to teach girls they are worth defending. I am so sorry she had to carry that with her all these years. I am so angry that this man and I’m sure many like him got away with it and get away with it every day.

What a difference it would make if all of Hugh Hefner’s Bunnies took our Basics course and could defend themselves from those men who assume that just because they’re Playmates, they’re easy or theirs for the taking. How about it Hef? Anybody got a line to him? Let’s empower your Bunnies and all women who work in sexualized media.

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