Carrie entered the office of Cutting Edges even more somber than usual, a subdued storm brewing in her brow.
"There's been another rape, Lyssa."
Lyssa looked up from her desk with an expression of dismay.
"Oh, no," Diana said. The thought darted through her head, another whole month of this!, but she quickly suppressed it as disloyal.
Roxana shook her head. "I told you so."
"What happened?" Marty asked.
"A woman came in to us yesterday, but she refuses to go to the police. It was a man she'd known for years. He was helping her move into a new apartment when he jumped her. As he was wrestling with her and pulling down his pants, he kept repeating, `I want some, I want some.' She tried to tell him that she didn't, but he didn't listen. And he was supposedly her friend."
"Friend?" Lyssa looked almost as confused as her office, in which all pretense of order had been abandoned. Fulfilling its temporary function as a cross between campaign headquarters and magazine office, it was littered with an assortment of posters for strike activities and copy for Cutting Edges.
"That's why she doesn't want to press charges," Carrie said. "They have a lot of mutual acquaintances, and people would be sure to take sides. Besides, even if she did get a conviction, she doesn't want to put him in jail for years."
"Maybe the laws shouldn't be as strict after all," Diana suggested with something resembling a meditative tone. "Maybe then there would be more women who wouldn't be afraid to bring charges."
To everyone's surprise, Harry exploded. "How can it be rape if she doesn't want to press charges? Maybe she was leading him on and it got out of hand, has anyone considered that?"
Carrie looked at him calmly. "You should have seen the state she was in."
"I'm getting sick of this." Harry jumped up from his desk impatiently. "Everyone's acting like rape is something that happens every day!"
Carrie shrugged. "It is."
"Well, not rape rape," Harry said.
"Uh-huh." Carrie folded her arms in front of her thin chest and stared at Harry.
"I can see no one is listening to me. I don't have to put up with it." He yanked on his jacket. "I'm outta of here."
The rest watched in silence as Harry stormed out of the office. "We'll never make any real progress," Carrie said, looking at the door through which Harry had disappeared. "Even someone as well-intentioned and politically correct as Harry ...!"
"Oh, Denise will bring him around," Diana said.
"But what about the men who don't have a Denise?"
"I think you really were a bit harsh with him, though, Carrie," Lyssa said. "We can't afford to alienate the men who support us!"
"And why not? We're a majority, after all."
Lyssa gave Carrie a troubled look. The workload Carrie put up with in the rape crisis center was phenomenal and Lyssa would have been reluctant to criticize her, but she was beginning to realize that Carrie found men guilty of being men. And Lyssa didn't want to support an attitude like that.
"We have to work with men and not against them," Lyssa insisted.
"But how can we work with men who regard women as objects? Like the one yesterday. `I want some'--as if that young woman were a side of fries or a piece of cake."
"Well then, we have to show them we won't be regarded as objects," Lyssa said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world, like following a recipe. Just don't forget the salt and all will be well.
"Right," Carrie said drily. "And how on earth are we going to do that." There was no inflection. It wasn't a question, not even a rhetorical one, it was a flat statement. And none too optimistic.