• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

January 27, 2014

Leah Vincent, Author of Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood

Share
Special Offer

Indeed, her first sexual experience will resonate with far too many women—she was raped by a man she knew. But Vincent doesn’t label the encounter as such in the prose. “It was very important to me as I was making decisions about how to tell the story to tell it in the voice of the girl who was experiencing it as she was experiencing it. It was really an evolution of voice,” Vincent said of her decision to not use “rape” to describe that experience. “And as I was going through that experience, I did not think that was rape. I thought rape only occurred if you were in a dark alley and being held down by four men and being raped as you screamed and shouted.”

You can chalk this naiveté up to her sheltered religious upbringing, but as recent news stories demonstrate, it’s not just Orthodox women (and men) who have this misconception about rape. From young women in high school all the way up to Republican lawmakers to the U.S. military, many still believe that “dark alley stranger rape” is the only “real” kind of rape. (I’m looking at you, Todd “legitimate rape” Akin.)

Related: Hillary Clinton Unplugged.

Another commonality that the ex-religious share with many feminists is the experience of being “gas lighted.” Those that have left the Orthodox community are often labeled as “crazy” or “mentally ill” by the ones who remain in the fold. Vincent’s own father, when interviewed about the forthcoming memoir, has labeled her this way.

“It really fucks with your sense of self and your ability to trust yourself when the person you respect most in the world telling you that you’re crazy and you’re a liar. You can’t help but doubt yourself in a very serious way,” she said of the accusations leveled at her.

It took Vincent a long time, years even, to shake the feeling that she was corrupted and didn’t deserve happiness. Long after she had dropped the external markers of religiosity—her modest clothes and dietary restrictions—she still judged her actions based off of the standards with which she was raised.

“Even though I put on pants and was having sex with people, it doesn’t meant that my brain bounced back into normal, un-fundamentalist religion shape,” she said.

Related: A Look at Love, Illuminated.

Progress, whether it’s on a personal or movement level, is rarely perfectly linear. To paraphrase Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat—Two steps forward, two steps back. Or something like that.

But that’s part of the victory for Vincent—being able to see and appreciate gray when she had been taught to think exclusively in black and white. Though she knows it’s not exactly feminist, she spends most of the book bouncing from one man to the next, hoping that one of them can set her straight and put her on a path, whether it’s towards marriage, motherhood, or a career.

“I think the idea is still in my brain today...” Vincent observed, “I think it’s in a lot of women’s brains—that the men in their lives can save them on some level. But now I have a much larger idea that lives alongside that one, that I can save myself and that I have saved myself.”


Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Smashbox (ARV: $314) and a year’s supply of hair products from Herbal Essences (ARV: $104), as selected by the Sponsor.

enter now
You Know You Want More

more from Lifestyle & Celebrity

17 Things Only People Who Live in Cities Understand

"A hustle here and a hustle there."

20 Websites Every Girl Should Bookmark

We've rounded up our favorite go-to pages.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue