The Marina Experiment


Posted on July 4, 2010 - Filed Under The Marina Experiment | 4 Comments

Best book title ever. I never even needed to crack the binding. That title is the best advice I ever got.

I have been thinking a lot about something, but have been afraid to write about it. In public anyway. Here it is.

Sex disgusts me. It’s sticky and it smells. I look at a man and I think ‘Everything he does is for sex. Sex is all he lives for and thinks about.’ I wonder if this is something that stems from my relationship with my father? And I’m not saying that facetiously. I really don’t know. I’m just wondering where these feelings come from.

They are new feelings. Recent. I used to have sex with everything and everyone. But I had to be drunk or on drugs. Or drunk AND on drugs. I don’t remember sex as being pleasurable. I don’t remember anything good ever coming out of it. It felt like rape. My spirit was stripped, even though I was acquiescing. I would subserve and be left an abandoned receptacle bereft of nurturing. This is what I remember.

I should mention that it’s been a few years since I decided to never have sex again.  This was brought on by a bad relationship that I do not want to waste my words telling you about. I prefer to talk about the first bad relationship I had with a man, which was my father, since his relationship with me has negatively colored every relationship I have had with a man  ever since.

My reaction to men is mechanical. My tireless tendency to please men erases me. I strain to be what I think they want me to be. Even with 39 years of therapy behind me, it remains impossible to overcome the knee-jerk performances so enthusiastically carved into my nature by my father.

What did he get out of recording me while he bullied me into singing and answering questions? Why did he need to dominate and manipulate me? Why did he bare my backside and put me over his knees and spank me roughly and mercilessly and then lock me in my room? I remember him spanking me a lot. Eventually it felt like I was too old to be bare-bottom over his knees.  But he did it anyway. The spanking must have felt sexual, because now, just a hand mistakenly grazed past my posterior, perhaps on a crowded train, feels violating.

When I first discovered the documentation, I sorted through it all so I could organize it. Organizing is my form of therapy. It calms me. Makes me feel like I have some control. I projected the Super 8 on my wall. Three minutes per reel. Each one was logged.

#61. 1970. Driving through the Alps. Long shot topless Marina in underwear with cat. East side of Manhattan from Circle Line.

#7. 1969. Jungle Habitat safari park. In a car looking at lions and zebras, ostriches on dash board. Marina walks toward camera in groovy flower power pants and sleeveless top with go-go boots. Long pan to sleeping Marina.

#5. 1972. Portugal. Bullfight. Good goring, lots of bull. Shot of Marina in white cotton underwear leaning over bed & turning around angrily at camera.  Vermont landscape.

For those of you who are not familiar with Super 8, unless you were making an effort to ‘edit in camera,’ it was common to pick up the camera, shoot something, and then put it down until you saw something else you wanted to capture. It was thoroughly disturbing to see the Alps through the car window and then suddenly I am watching my up-and-coming breasts with my head missing from the shot. Or was it my face that was missing? It was me. I was missing. It could have been any 10 year old girls blossoming breasts. Maybe that made it okay for him. Since he couldn’t see me he wasn’t watching me. He was just gazing at some little girls breasts. No matter how I looked at it, it was my father filming my breasts. In the hopes of distracting him, I tortured my cat.

The pain is permanent. Sometimes it numbs and sometimes it sobs. Why couldn’t he see me? I was just an innocent little girl. I was so smart and pretty. I just wanted him to love me. I sang on command. I did what I was told because I learned that if I didn’t I would be spanked. Eventually, I disobeyed. I said ‘No!’  I must’ve disembodied myself before the spanking. I don’t know how I survived.



  1. Anonymous on October 11th, 2010 12:42 am

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that, both as a child and later as an adult finding that material. Hopefully some good came out of it, like learning about yourself.

  2. dittany on April 17th, 2011 4:12 pm

    I hate your dad. I hate mine too and there are some slides and super-8 films that explain at least a part of that feeling.

    I watched your film, and I can’t believe that he did that to you. You were a lovely sweet little girl, and he was trampling all over that, all over you. I’m so glad you grew up to become his opponent, and to be your own witness.

    Have you ever tried radical feminism? It’s better than therapy I found. They’ve got plenty to say about sex/intercourse too –

  3. Brainstormed. « Film And Tv on August 8th, 2012 9:53 am

    […] Here is one post that caught my eye: […]

  4. Victoria Payton on September 9th, 2012 11:24 am

    I don’t know how many people have said to me, “I don’t know how you survived.” I don’t know what to tell them. I was just doing what I did, escaping the abuse whenever I could in every ingenious way I could. I hope you remember all the wonderful ways you escaped, in addition to jumping out of your body, to tell the tale. You may find some joy in remembering the brilliant child you were and love her the way you want to be loved.

    I firmly believe that men should be excluded from being with children. The damage they do is obviously tremendous and the responses men have sent you indicate that the violence is pandemic.

    I was able to escape an abusive husband when my youngest child was six years old and raise my three already traumatized daughters in a home without the patriarchal fist. It was an unexpectedly priceless gift.

    Sex disgusts me because it is abuse. My father first penetrated me when I was five years old. Men always treated me like a sex toy. I was forced to be involved in sex long before I knew the “facts of life.” I had no opportunity to process its meaning to humans. We abused girls experience grooming for our roles as sex slaves. It took courage for me to decide never to have sex again. I truly thought I had no choice since I had only experienced sex as rape. A terrible sadness for me is that all my children were products of rape. When I finally realized that I only had stay away from men altogether, I escaped the abuse of sex.

    Thank you for the opportunity to overcome my own fears of discussing this topic.

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