Mayra Medina was born in Bucay, Ecuador in 1969. She grew up in Caracas, Venezuela and came to the US on a student visa in 1987. Mayra was 18 years old when she entered the country and she came alone. She worked two jobs and attended a local community college full time. At any age, that's busting your hump full time. She met a boy in 1988. At 19, he was her first boyfriend; never been kissed and all that. Different cultures have different social mores and certainly different expectations. The majority of us don't recognize, or are not aware when we find ourselves in a community that is not our own.
I don't know if we teach our children these things or not. I was taught. I taught my children. The first thing we learn (I hope) is once that plane lands, you are no longer on American soil. This seems obvious, right? It is not. This is the first gate through which American's pass and fuck up epically. Drugs, terrorism, money laundering (for real?); we get pulled out of the customs line for one of these things and we'd best sit down and shut the hell up. This is not in our nature. The second thing we learn is that we know nothing about the culture. Doesn't matter what you read or who you talked to, until you set foot on foreign soil, you are clueless. That's our clue, again, to shut the hell up and pay attention.
We are the only country in the world that collectively either refuses to acknowledge this information or simply cannot conceive the possibility. As an illustration of just how cloistered we are, unless we are from there, we can't even begin to understand what it means to be a woman South of the Mason Dixon Line. Same goes for the North. I promise, there are radical differences.
I wonder what Mayra's expectations of dating, of men, of boyfriends, and of husbands might have been. I wonder, because she got herself in a world of hurt, very, very quickly. When I read her story I was flabbergasted that, American Citizens in The Land of the Brave and the Free, could possibly have let this happen. The communal outrage over the event should have been enough to wake us up. But it did not. Instead of saving her, we left her to the media and the courtrooms and the media again and I have to say, blaming the media for anything is like having a free pass to the circus or a way out of a personal accountability.
I don't know what Mayra thought when she was 19 and dating 21 year old Eric. I don't what she thought or how she saw the world when she married him a year later, at 20.
There is no reason to believe that the same series of events would not have occurred with a couple in their late twenties, having had a little more time to grow up. It would have occurred. It occurs every day in America. Again, it isn't that we don't see it. We do. We choose not to look for a number of reasons. The easiest get out of jail card is, 'I have no idea what to do about this'. The most damning reason is that we agree, at least at some level, that she had it coming.
Eric Hit Mayra before the first month, otherwise known as the honeymoon, was over.
Before I move on, there are some things about American women I'd like to point out. In 1989 women were technically still chattel. That's a broad definition, I understand. These are things we do not know until they have backed us into a rathole. Women of my generation, born in the mid-sixties to the last of the boomers, grew up in the 70's and 80's as if the life we knew and rights we took for granted had always been. Or at least had been for way longer than mattered.
It was not until the seventies that we gained control of our own finances, that we were even permitted to apply for credit. We could not open a bank account in our own name. We know about Roe v Wade in 1973 because that turned the country on its ass. We were damn proud of Roe v. Wade.
In the 70s it was still legally permissible to rape your wife. The law said, don't do that. What the law failed to do was criminalize spousal rape. That one took a while. A lot longer than you might think. My first two children were half grown by the time that happened.
Until 1978 you could still be fired for being pregnant. It was not until 1980 that sexual harassment was legally defined. We could not obtain birth control unless we were married. We required our husband's signatures for tubal ligation and for abortion. The list of what changed in the 70's, the list of those changes fought, often at great personal cost, is epic. This is the part that makes half of my friends scream and jump up and down.
Who made the changes in the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties? Who made the changes in the second half of he 20th century?
Don't make me say it for you because then I'll have to shame you and only one of us will find that even remotely pleasant.
Your mothers. Your baby boomer mothers. The ones you despise with an ire that is astonishing. What have you done? You don't get to claim the environment. There is evidence supporting that you've taken us backwards.
(listen, you've done a lot. I'm trying to get your damned attention. Have I got it now?)
For four years, Eric Bannon beat, raped, sodomized, and the rest of the list, his wife. He bragged about raping his wife to his friends. The police were called on multiple occasions, all charges were eventually dismissed.
Chattel. Do you see it yet? Do think there was anything she could do about it? If you do think that, call me. We'll chat.
One night in June, Mayra snapped. After a brutal beating and rape, Mayra did a thing we believe can only be done if we are temporarily insane. Who the hell, in their right mind would take an 8 inch knife and cleanly cut the bastard's dick off? Nooo... Nobody would do that. A hardcore criminal crazy cunt... the world went batshit.
And that's the part you remember, isn't it?
As Lorena stated several times in multiple interviews, all they could focus on was the penis.
Read that twenty-four times. Once for every year of her life until she fought her way out. If it irks you, read it out loud.
I recall being deeply disappointed when it was successfully reattached. I just want you to know, that had this been me, they'd have had to remove from his stomach first.
Sound harsh? It's a harsh world. How would YOU like your world to look?
A Voice in the Chaos
In 1993, Marital Rape was finally criminalized in all 50 states. Look at the date.
Criminalization can mean just about anything. All 50 states have the right to define marital rape as they see fit. Chattel.
Stand. Up. Now.