Monday, August 8, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 47: Reasons for my madness

Before starting back to school in the fall, I went over and over the reasons why I needed to carry out my plan of reacting with truth and honesty in all my classes my senior year in response to whatever assignment I was given.  I was desperate. What was involved, I decided, had gotten too big and too complex for any one person to be expected to handle.  I had tried talking to just about everybody and had gotten nowhere.  The past 5 years I had lived in Salt Lake I had interacted with my Grandfather and Grandmother Wilson, especially the last year when Margie was in Salt Lake to go with me, and had encountered the same difficulties my mother complained about when she tried to talk about her troubles to them.
Mother still didn't know everything about my dad that I knew, but there was a lot she did know.  Now she had gotten involved with other men through contacts in her store, so had added another element of extreme danger to her volatile relationship with my father. She was far too engaged in battle with my suspicious dad and a cover-up of her own affairs for me to talk to her. 

But I had seen evidence of my Grandmother's distrust of my Grandfather in her determination to act as his nurse when he was giving chiropractic treatments.  My mother had often talked about her father's womanizing tendencies. I also found him to be defensive and guarded.  I knew he had a bad temper, so I did not go far enough for him to get angry to shut me up. It just was not possible to get into any depth with him. I had to give that idea up before I made any progress, even though Margie said he was acting different with her now she was going to become a nurse. 

I had gone down to the King ranch and had numerous conversations with my Aunt Nethella, who was now the female boss of the King ranch as much as the hired man allowed her to be.  She had taught all three of of my younger sisters in the local elementary school before they started taking the bus to Escalante. She could talk for hours about the problems she incurred teaching all the kids, but her interests were still relatively limited.  
My Grandfather King died at the age of 87 when I was away to college in my sophomore year, but I had not talked to him at all for years except on cattle drives.  He would always come to get some of us girls when the hired men were bringing the main herd up from the winter ranges in the big spring round-up. We would go down and drive the tired cattle home while the hired men came on ahead after days out on the range. He avoided any conversations except what had to do with the ranch work, even when he was up in his 80's. He was too old for anyone to challenge. 
I would listen patiently to Aunt Nethella's analyses of how my sisters all did in school and I asked questions.  But I never had enough of a breakthrough with her to talk about any of the ways males connected to the King ranch had impacted my life and well being.  I thought I could have talked to her forever and gotten nowhere when it came to what the women did not know and the men were not about to tell them.

As far as I could see, the theater department as well as the English department at the University were where male students most apt to be gay were enrolled.  I thought Lees probably had a good idea of who was gay and who was not.  But this subject had long been so taboo that married playwright Oscar Wilde had been jailed in England for being too open about a homosexual affair.  Homosexual activities were on the books as against the law then. The father of the young man he was 'befriending' charged him with the crime.  Of course, Wilde's plays had been done at the University of Utah, one while I was there, but nobody talked about the homosexual problem in connection with a married Oscar Wilde, least of all not Lees.
I thought society had made very little progress since Oscar Wilde's time.  Gays were accepted who came out but mostly in the cities like New York, which had long been hospitable to them because of their talent. Gays who came out were still not accepted well in Utah so dominated was it by religion.  I thought the more people were able to be honest about their homosexuality, the less problems there were going to be, resulting from secrecy and cover-up, which ended up with wives who were ignorant of their husband's bisexuality and children disturbed and victimized by the secrets and lies, as I had been after I became suspicious.   
I thought there was probably so much knowledge of the cover-up of homosexual tendencies among the married in the theater department that people had gotten used to devaluing honesty in any number of ways. Which was why I could probably cause quite a stir just trying to cut through all the fat that lies and cover-up engendered.

I talked about what I was planning to do enough that Margie became uncomfortable. She did not like the sounds of it. She said she did not understand my thinking. Was rebelling what I expected her to do? I told her I did not mean that she should do that now in her nursing classes. Maybe she would run into a problem later on in her training but had not gotten far enough along now to be concerned.
But I was a senior.  I did not have a whole lot longer to act if I was going to accomplish anything important while in college.  I had not told my sisters about the molesters because of their connection to my dad. I thought it was also possible my dad had molested the under aged  at some point in his life, if he had gotten the opportunity.
The molesting was the main reason I felt I had to keep on trying to reach somebody with authority. But since I could not burden Margie with explanations, it was no wonder she was uneasy.  I tried not to say enough that she would become suspicious that I was concealing something from her, but to tell one of my sisters was to tell all, so I thought I had better anticipate the result.  Margie especially would resist, because she always opposed what I thought, and would especially if she was upset by my conclusions.  I was not ready for them to become that reactive.  I had all the opposition I could handle as it was. They were victimized, too, by my dad's alcoholism and his subsequent violent conflicts with my mother, so they could not help me.  I had to help them!   
I had not been able to protect any other underage victims of the second molester especially, but the almost universal cover-up of homosexual activities gave protection to bisexual men who turned molester.  Oscar Wilde was reputed to like underage boys. I read this in one of the many bios written about him.  The married French author, Andre Gide, went on vacations  to foreign countries in search for underage boys, which he confessed in his journals I found in the University library.
If women were kept in ignorance, they could not even protect their own sons.  If I was able to surface my own experiences, I might convince wives and mothers to look for this kind of activity.

Dr. Lees had ignored my first attempt to get his attention about my problems when I wrote him the paper about the students covered with sores.  Had he been the least bit inquisitive I could have opened up more, but he turned away instead. This suggested to me that he was probably covering up homosexual tendencies of his own and always feared a student might be coming dangerously close to bringing the subject up.  He wasn't going to take a chance on that happening. I had been dealing with defensive evasive men all my life.  I thought I knew the signs. 
So I needed to get more teachers besides him involved.  I needed to get their attention, which I could do, I thought, if I insisted on more depth in all my classes by my honest response to the lack of it. Plenty of times in Utah schools I thought my classes were short of content I could respect, so I thought that I probably would not be satisfied long with any.
I knew if a head of a department was covering up, the teachers would become careless and lazy and unfocused on what they needed to accomplish.  If the head of their department did not require sharpness on their parts because it was threatening, the whole department was apt to suffer from a loss of integrity.
Dr. Lees had been head of that department for a long time, and I thought I was running into his lack of standards.
I suspected that he used his out of town theater productions to get away from home where he could more safely make connections. That was possibly why he directed these plays, even though he was the most prestigious director on campus and only had to direct the big productions if he chose.  Lees directed those, too, but the out of town ones were what caught my attention when I got a part in one almost as soon as I enrolled in the university. 
These productions on the road reminded me of down 'below' to the cattle ranges which had been used for years by men like my father to have a safe, unobserved period of time with desirable male employees.  School boys talked knowingly about "Down Below", suggesting that for unsuspecting boy victims along, this might be 'hell on earth' for them. It was one of the trips "Down Below" my cousin Ray was trying to avoid, but was forced to take when he was 14 years old.  He acted very upset afterwards, but typically would not talk about it, but his tormenter on that trip was also my tormenter when he got any opportunity. So I had a good idea what had taken place.  Some sort of violation of his person. 
I always refused to drive cattle anywhere, over night, even with my dad. As a girl, I could get away with refusing to go, but as a boy, he could not, so the boys were actually more at risk than the girls.  
There might be safety in numbers.  I needed to alert more of my teachers and get them wondering why in the world I was acting like this, teachers that had not been involved in any cover-ups as well as some who might be.  I did not see any other way now to get more supporters.
My dad was too brutal, too ruthless when he felt threatened.  He was too dangerous for me to accuse him of anything.  I had already experienced a loss of physical strength coping with him when I was twelve.  I had experienced too many crises under his jurisdiction for too many years.  They had taken their toll of my health.
No, I could not leave this university without allies.  I needed protection when I did surface the truth.  
It was going to take strength to get past my dad's defenses to a place where he could not affect the outcome.  So I was instinctively charting a path for one purpose, I had to be able to tell someone with authority about the molesters!  I had never told anyone  that I was molested, not even one person.  And it looked as though I was going to have to go to extremes to be allowed to talk about what nobody want to hear. Only then could I go to the second part of the story, about what else some of these men were covering up which the women were too submissive and ignorant to detect.
First these men were unfaithful to the women in a way they were not encouraged to think about, and then some targeted children for their fun.

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