Felina Ramos is in her twenties. It’s been hell getting here. I was all set to write a blog post about the speed at which many tag a given narrative as proof of rape culture and in so doing, cheapen the phrase. Check your narratives people. And, yes, I am hinting that my story of a young intern flipping out because a coworker smiled at her will continue in this space. Felina, though.
Felina’s story killed it. I know she’s an outlier, that most women don’t have such an outsized story to tell. I am one who loves to point out that the stories we publish are the ones that have a larger than life aspect to them. Only a small percent of us are black and bullet-ridden. Only a few women have survived as much as Felina. The 99% will never have a story worth a blog post. Felina does.
Felina dresses goth, has a bloody rose tattoo on her left arm. She’s in Richmond trying again to get her grades together to return to Stanford where her full-ride scholarship awaits. Her uncanny attraction to pigs is a bit unnerving. She’s not attracted to them. Too many come at her with attitude she reads as, “I could get from flirty to dirty sheets pretty quick with you.”
How About . . . No
I see what the pigs see. I also saw the steel and concrete in her eyes buttressing a deep river of anger that made me decide that I’d regret checking her off on my bucket list. The weather has been good so she’s been living on the street. It’s not as if Felina hasn’t been offered help. It is this. The last time she agreed to take a bed in a shelter she woke up to find the overnight worker fondling her. The place promised to be safe, to be somewhere where she could try again to get healthy, was a place hosting a predator.
Felina spent a night in jail recently after she slapped a well-meaning woman at the bus stop who offered, “everything happens for a reason. You have to look for the lesson in this.” The things that Felina has survived defy explanation. The lesson life has taught her is worse than a night in city jail after bitch-slapping that woman.
Felina, 24, born in Haiti to a Peace Corp father. Dad came to Haiti as an aid volunteer for Hurricane Gordon (1994). Mom was Mormon at the time, in Haiti to soak up the sun, eat, and maybe find out about her family’s connection to the island. Dad’s roots were Moorish and Mom’s were Catalan. Felina grew up in Puerto Rico. A fine beginning that went further south for Felina at around age 12.
The thing that has been so stunning is her inability to escape predators. Monsters under the bed? She’s got men wanting her in the ugliest way. Mom & Dad wanted her to break the family curse and so sent her to boarding school. Their idea was that if they sent her to a good boarding school she’d be safe and set for college and success.
Good Plan . . . Gone to a Nightmare.
Boarding school had a janitor (pig #2) who liked them young. His special pet was Felina, who gave herself to him until she graduated with honors. She got a full ride at Stanford, as far away from Georgia as she could manage. Nightmare over? Not even. It was as if she had some sort of invisible nametag that said, “abuse me.” It wasn’t even limited to men. Women would coo that it’s safer with a girl and then bust out the latex and whips.
Childhood in Carolina, Puerto Rico before boarding school was a little better than what TV loves to show. Her parents did better than most. They both worked, her Dad sold shaved ice (Pure Mountain Water!) to tourists and her Mom as an office manager in a doctor’s office. She had one sister two years younger than her and an older brother she seldom saw. The brother was a soaring vulture who was only home when he wasn’t in jail or had run out of money. But, they had a house and a car, which was more than many of her childhood friends.
Felina’s reason for wanting to go to boarding school was a Bambalan (pig #1) friend of her Dad. This bichote started with her when she was eight. Then she got her first period and he told Papa that she was spoiled and could never marry a Catholic. Es lo que hacen los hombres.
Felina Ramos Knows
Felina knows a couple things. She knows that some men are weak against her and will do nearly anything if she asks them the right way. She knows that no one has ever been able to contain her behavior. She can and has done many taboo things. Lately, though, she knows that between bicho and a good book it is the book that feels better. Some rosehip tea, a fleece robe and something by James Patterson are way better than pene apestosas.
She’s on meds and most days her life trying to hold it together almost makes it to sundown without drama. She’s was living at home in Carolina helping take care of her parents for a couple years. She became the parent in the family for her sister and her gilipollas brother. Then a friend of the family told her she could come to Richmond and study at John Tyler to get her grades up and go back to Stanford. One more gallo del paseo who had her crotch in mind. She still hopes to make it back to Stanford some day.
I was ready to launch, ready to yell at those who cheapen the phrase “rape culture” by spewing it with abandon. It was one of those odd moments I’ve had. I saw what the predators saw. She comes across as an easy fuck. Sometimes, she is. Her heart is walled up behind a deep stone fortress of too many men assuming she’d like it quick and rough. She’s been abused too much, taken for granted too many times, had hands and bicho invade her safety. She is the exception that kills my glittering generality. Her story is too oft told, too old for a young woman.
I’m still there. I live here too. I see that the devil is hard at work eating souls. He’s made an oven for us and we are being baked in depravity until we are nicely golden brown and bubbly. I’m past the age where every woman I see is one I want to fuck. If SYHT reappeared in my life offering a bit of bacchanal it wouldn’t be an obvious yes. I flirted with Felina. But I’ve driven too many miles in a cab, carried to many Felina’s to be captured by her spell so easily. Not Felina specifically, but many like her who got with a guy hoping to use him as a lily pad and discovering he was a drunk, an asshat and worse. Women whom I pick up between 3 and 5am who had something in mind that didn’t happen and now need me to get them home.
What Size Are You?
The thing that bugs me is that the young women burning up the tubes with accusations of rape culture present it as a fact as immutable as the sunset. It is again the assignment of a narrative based on the stories of women like Felina as proof that all men are pigs needing castration and a training bra. And again the stipulation that the victims have no agency. They must just accept their fate as jaiva for bicho. They were born this way.
The genius of Christ was this. His revolution started within. He asked us to examine our own lives and the ways we are broken and in need of repentance. I can’t offer an answer to Felina that explains why life has been shitting down her throat. I can offer her hope that the shit-show can be less shitty. I didn’t start out well at age 19. The ending will be a lot better.
Felina and I are connected through social media. Lately I’ve become a ghost to her. If I were younger and hornier this would be a problem. Now? Meh. Some people are with us for a season and are gone. We get to keep the memories. Felina, when I told her I prophesized that she’d be ok, at first got angry with me and then got quiet, mascara and eye-liner leaking down her cheek.
We owe ourselves and Felina a little introspection and as needed, some effort at behaving better. And yeah, this site is for the pigs, the outliers and malcontents, God made them too. I still hope Felina will find the right support and be able to end the nightmare. And . . . allow me my hope that maybe the pigs will get a shock of recognition and perhaps chill the fuck out.