I haven’t blogged in about a year. It’s been one of crippling disbelief and disgust for me and for so many people I know. The election of Donald Trump (I hate to even type his name), his cabinet appointments and with the exception of very few, the GOP takeover has stunted my creativity in such a way that it’s been hard to even get started. There are so many issues, just so many. What has happened to our country is completely overwhelming at times. To pick one issue and offer my humble opinion has been impossible until recently. I’m not a professional blogger and although I have very strong opinions, I shy away from being a political blogger for many reasons but this one issue, although prevalent across the board, has melded into the political sphere and has been normalized to some degree because the man who holds the highest office in the country has been allowed to get away with it thus far. What I’m most proud of though, is the movement of women who have decided that enough is enough. We are speaking out in numbers the likes of which have never been seen and I want to make my voice a part of that movement.
I do not know one woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed at the very least and some who have been intimidated and assaulted, including myself. I know women who were children when it happened and women who were assaulted by their own husbands. It seems very few are spared this egregious act and while I won’t pretend I can psychoanalyze the men and women who perpetuate it, it’s widely known that it’s a power and control issue. It’s also widely known that few have the courage and conviction to speak up when it happens to them and I can’t say I blame them. More often than not the victims are vilified, laughed at, rarely believed. Who in their right mind would put themselves out there for that kind of persecution?
In my case, it was a stranger. I was 23 years old, had just moved to the big city and was getting in my car to head to my first day of work. I never saw him until he stopped my car door from closing with one hand as I reached to close it. He was jerking off with the other hand and my first thought was to get that door closed somehow. Oh my God, is he going to rape me? Close the door, close the door! As I was pulling on the door handle with everything I had, he tried to reach into the car with the hand that was holding the door and because of the force I was using to get it closed it managed to slam shut. I immediately hit the lock, threw the car in reverse and backed up at a very high rate of speed until I reached the front doors of the apartment complex. I ran inside fairly hysterical, shaken to the core. The manager of the complex called a police officer that happened to be living there and I reported it. The ironic thing is that years and years later, the very police officer I reported it to was fired and charged with sexually assaulting the men that he was stopping for traffic violations, but I digress. This incident, although I didn’t know it at the time, affected me for years. No one just moves on from something like that and I can’t even wrap my head around how anyone heals from being raped or touched or handled in anyway. He didn’t even touch me and my psyche was affected for years. Anxiety, lack of self confidence, self-blame, bad relationships, any number of things. I’m glad I reported it even if they never found the guy. It didn’t occur to me to talk to a therapist at the time though, I wish I had.
What stuns me the most about our current culture is that no matter how far we’ve come as women, and we’ve come damn far, we still have so much further to go. That this is still happening so rampantly in every corner of the world is indicative of how much “less than” we’ve been made to feel. Who decided that? Who decided that we are beneath anyone else? This particular issue goes back to the beginning of time so the question is rhetorical of course but it angers me that anyone is made to feel less than by another human being. And what in their lives caused them to feel like it’s okay to do it? How incredibly sad that it generally spans generations of their own abuse. It’s completely normal to most abusers to do what they are doing because it’s what they were taught. It does not make it right but they simply don’t know any better. Their lack of self worth runs so deep that they have to make everyone around them feel even less than they do themselves. They have to have control and yet, they are so out of control on so many levels it boggles the mind.
If there is one good thing to come out of the travesty of the 2016 Presidential election it’s that we have found our voices. Women, minorities, everyone who has been pushed down in our society are speaking up for the good of humanity. For a year now I’ve been trying to find something good about it, anything good, and for me, this is it. We will no longer sit back and be made to feel “less than” as women, as human beings. We will speak up and disallow sexual harassment, intimidation and abuse. We will report every single instance and we will help our sisters and brothers who have been abused. We will listen without judgement, support and stand by them for the long haul. We will believe them until and unless proven otherwise. We will educate our children on the subject and we will educate our brothers, husbands, friends and family who don’t know any better that it is not okay, ever. Not ever. We will look for the political candidates that uphold and respect not just women but humanity as a whole and if we choose wrongly, we will vote them out. We will make sure that they are held to the highest standard because when we do that, we are also holding ourselves to that same standard. When change comes, and it always does, it can propel you forward or sink you. For the women I know, the 2016 Presidential election changed us forever. It moved us forward in a way that can only be described as monumental. We will never again be “less than”. We will never again be complicit. We will never again be silent.