Friday, June 14, 2019

Microstory 1125: Eudora Mercari

Eudora Mercari was born on Durus during the reign of the First Republic. Upon turning twenty, she was promised to a man. In this world, she had no choice in the matter, and though she knew intellectually that this was wrong, she never felt like she could do anything about it. Society’s way of doing things left a lot of very important questions unanswered. If a woman has no choice in the man she marries, is it even possible for her to consent to sex? Can she make an informed decision about her body when she’s inescapably expected to provide for her husband whatever she needs? No. Still, when it comes to sex, there is at least some difference between assault, and a vague approximation of true consent. There are men out there who are very clearly raping their wives. They’re doing so with violence and malice, and despite protest. This was Eudora’s fear her entire life; that she would be stuck with a man like this, and it is that fear that drove her towards accepting her fate. Marital rape is a heartbreaking fear that pervades the minds of many women of Durus in this time period. It is better to be assigned a mate against your will, than be hopelessly bound to a man who your family has not vetted and interviewed. This was not how the new phallocratic society began, but it is how its government maintains its power. The system isn’t perfect, but destroying the policies without effective replacements wouldn’t help alleviate the dangers. If that were to happen, the people who instituted those original policies would still there, along with everyone who agreed with them. They would still feel the same way, but there would be no protections whatsoever; just anarchy. Of course, being that the system is designed quite publicly to subjugate women, even properly vetted potential husbands can turn out to be abusive.

Eudora’s new husband started out slowly, like he knew what he wanted—how far he wanted to go—but didn’t want to be called out for it. If, say, he raped Eudora on their first night together, there might be some legal actions she could take against him. No, it was better to break her down gradually, so she felt there was nothing she could do, because she was all alone. They had been married for so long, and she had never complained before, so who would believe her now? He was careful and patient. He didn’t so much as touch her for almost two months, trying to make her think that he wouldn’t make the first move; that he was a good guy. Then he started to be a little affectionate, but not overtly sexual. He would criticize her appearance and behaviors, but mask these complaints as encouragements. Instead of telling her she was fat, he would work out a discount at a fitness center, for the both of them. Instead of telling her she was ugly, he would buy her makeup as gifts. On their own, these things seemed so innocuous that not even Eudora realized what was really happening. When he was finally ready to take what he believed he was entitled to, he turned drastically. He forced himself on her, and he finished so quickly, that it barely registered to her right away that anything had happened. She was so shocked, she didn’t even get a chance to vocalize her refusal, which meant she didn’t think she could report it. When he wanted it again the next day, she was better prepared, but no stronger. His technique was working. She begged her parents for help getting out of this marriage, and didn’t even bother asking them to seek to charge him to any crime. She just wanted to get away from him, but they wouldn’t allow it. Her father was not unlike her husband, and her mother was not unlike Eudora feared she would become one day: hopeless and powerless.

This is one of the few times that the system didn’t completely fail women, however. After months of his abuse, Eudora’s husband started getting too confident. He didn’t think he could ever get in trouble for the horrors he was inflicting, even if people knew about it. He bragged about the power he was holding over his wife, and of the extramarital conquests he was making all the while. A man nicknamed Professor Pane caught wind of his stories, and decided he could help, though not in the best way possible. He was a mage remnant, and could create one-way visual portals to other places. He used his ability to keep track of current events on Earth, but there were so many more applications. These portals were only windows, which allowed him to see some distant location, but not interact with it. Anyone on the other side would not be able to see him back. So he approached the authorities, told them what he knew, and opened a window to Eudora and her husband. Recording devices were never invented in this world, so his was the only way of catching the husband in the act. Obviously that meant he would have to rape her one last time, but Pane would fight with all his strength to make sure it was indeed his last time, even if the authorities didn’t take action after witnessing it. They did, though. They could not deny what they had seen, and they arrested Eudora’s husband immediately. She spent years in a deep depression after that, working alone to overcome the trauma. Therapy existed on Durus, but it was given mostly to men. A woman can seek psychological help, but only if the man who owns her gives his permission, and she no longer had one of those. The only light in her life being her daughter, Andromeda, who was the product of one of her husband’s crimes. By the time Andromeda was old enough to understand where it is she came from, the world had changed. The phallocracy was crushed, and a new government was formed. The crimes of yesteryear were wiped clean, in one of the most despicable acts of this provisional government, and this historical whitewashing would not be remedied for many years. Eudora decided to keep her terrible history a secret for the rest of her life, as apparently the new convention dictated. Both she and her daughter died never having spoken of it.

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