I was going through my nightly routine earlier this week, attempting to sleep while random thoughts raced through my mind… Don’t forget to buy more cereal tomorrow. Is Bronson Pinchot actually from Greece? Where did I pack our copy of The Hobbit back in Seattle?
I was finally drifting off when a name surfaced: Lorena Bobbitt. What ever happened to Lorena Bobbitt?
Like Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky, Lorena Bobbitt was a punchline in the dark history of mid-nineties feminism. Abused and distraught, she cut off her husband’s penis and drove off into the night. Hours later, it was found in a field and surgically reattached to its owner, John Wayne Bobbitt. My memories of that episode are a blur of Court TV
coverage, relentless late night comedy
, and Howard Stern
interviews (I was a high school freshman at the time). I remember rolling my eyes at every terrible joke while pitying this poor, defeated woman. We were living in a time when men triumphed and women paid the consequences. He was offered talk show appearances and porn contracts while she was parodied and ridiculed, vilified for resisting her abuser. How would she ever live it down? I lay awake wondering what her fate was all these years later, 25 to be exact. The following morning, I was surprised to find a slew
highlighting the recent anniversary. There’s even an Amazon documentary
in the works. John Wayne continued a string of failed attempts to leverage his penile infamy while continuing a pattern of assaulting wives and girlfriends. Lorena remarried, had a daughter, and started a nonprofit
to prevent domestic violence. Though their names are inextricably linked, she now uses hers to help other women. It’s pretty clear who triumphed in the end. Like Anita and Monica, Lorena is a name to remind us of our complicated past. Let’s remember them and appreciate how far we’ve come, how differently we respond, and the higher standard of empathy, humanity, and equality we’ve earned at their expense.