Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Musings

This is a strange time.  My nightly dreams are full of fright and fight.  I'm angry in the awake world
as well.  I am disheartened by Der Drumpf, angry at him, angry at his campaign.  As more women come forward, my heart sinks and my fury grows.  The current nomenclature is that these stories "trigger" me, and they do.  I am uneasy with the term, and used to scoff at college kids who were 'triggered' by words they heard on campus.  Grow up, I thought.  Toughen up; you'll never make it in this harsh world if you don't.

A particularly moving piece, Grab Her, got me remembering many many incidents that I endured, and that girls I knew endured.  I don't dwell on these memories, in fact many of them have been safely locked away all my life.

When I was 11 years old, developing breasts and wearing a bra, the boys at school would sneak up behind me and vigorously pull on the back of the bra, causing it snap against my skin.  They made jokes about breasts and felt entitled to pull on my underclothing.  It got so bad, that my parents switched schools for me.  Bullying with an extra sexually menacing twist.

At 13 or 14, when visiting my best friend, her dad would make comments about my breasts.  He'd say to his daughter when he answered the front door, "Oh, ______, Tara and her sweater lumps are here!"  This made me feel deeply ashamed and I wanted to crawl into a dark space and hide.  I can hardly believe he felt entitled to comment on my body.  But it was in jest, right?  Hahahaha.

Around this same time, girl friends of mine were telling me of being raped by boyfriends who got tired of waiting for sex.  So they just took it.  It was frightening to hear how powerless they were.  How much danger they were in.  And in the end, it was "just one of those things."  If you didn't want to be raped, just don't make-out with guys.  Simple solution.

At 16 or 17, I was assaulted by the boss' son.  I got pissed off, screamed and struggled my way out of being penetrated against my will, but the episode left me terribly shaken.  Later, I would learn there was a bet as to who in the company could 'get' me first.  It was a game the men were playing.  A sick, cruel game.

In college, I applied to the photographic arts program and was required to show my portfolio to the head of the department.  At our meeting, he slowly looked through my work, saying nothing.  Then he said he felt I wasn't ready, and that I should 'work' with him and 'develop a personal relationship' with him in order to improve my chances.  Like many women when we hear these outrageous words, we cannot believe we heard what we thought we heard.  I mumbled something about needing to get to class, gathered up my work, and split.  The next term, there was a visiting professor in the photography program who was reviewing portfolios.  I took her mine, virtually unchanged from the first review, and she was very complimentary and readily accepted me into the program.

All my life I have been taught, by observation, to be wary of men.  My experience is not  unique among women.  As I've grown older, women have shared their horror stories with me:  molested by an uncle, gang raped at a college party, raped by a father, raped for hitching a ride, raped for walking home from work in the dark.  How is it that this kind of criminal behavior still flies under the radar in 2016?

Every time a woman comes out with her Drumpf story, I am horrified.  I am also glad that they have found the courage to speak out.  His denials ring hollow.  I know who I believe, because I know that kind of man.  I know how, as a victim, every cell in your body tells you to hide what happened to you.  You are ashamed, and afraid, and you keep your mouth shut.

The court case wherein an adult woman accuses Drumpf of raping her when she was 13, is scheduled to get a hearing in December of this year.  December?  Really?  We can't find a way to hurry this along before the election?  What if this monster wins the Presidency and then is found guilty in court of rape and of threatening the victim and her family (allegedly).  What then?

How do we work our way out of this hateful cultural situation where too many men feel entitled to commit crimes against women?  We stop it on the sports fields.  We stop it in the classroom.  We stop in it our homes.  We stop it in the work place.  A full-on campaign a la the campaign against cigarette smoking.  We empower women to speak up when assaulted, we assure them that their stories will be heard.  We respect them in the hospitals, the police station and the courts.  We stop sexualizing women at every turn:  news anchors, runway models, lingerie advertisements, the list goes on and on.  We teach respect.  And hey, Amy Schumer, I love you dear, but stop doing photo shoots where you are the half naked buxom bombshell, okay?  We get it: round women are sexy as hell.  Move on.

Women don't share these painful stories for 15 minutes of fame, as the GOP criminal claims (lock him up).  We share because we see a menace among us and we share because we want to shine the light on the predators.  We are going to change the culture.  And we will not be silent anymore.

9 comments:

  1. I know you know how I feel about this. I can't even watch the Presidential debates. I sensed the predator in Trump even before the tapes came out. There is something about the psychopathic predator male that just screams its ugliness. I was thinking about the time I was sexually assaulted, and horribly I started to remember times I had completely buried. Like the time a doctor reached under my medical gown and cupped my naked breasts to "take my temperature"; or all the times my boss at the cafe walked up behind me close enough that I could feel his body on mine and lingered much too long; or the times I hid from the upstairs neighbor when I was FIVE YEARS OLD because he always wanted to touch me where I knew he shouldn't. You already know the hitchhiking story. Can you believe what just we two women have endured? And really, I haven't even shared all the stories. I am sorry for your pain and nightmare. This we share, Tara, this we share.

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    1. Yes, we share this. And with the majority of women, we share this. I am so surprised at all the buried memories this is dredging up. And imagine: it's happening all over the country. No doubt our anger and upset is confusing the good men in our lives. WE know they are not the target of our emotions, but do THEY?

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  2. ((( Tara ))) Thank you for writing about so many painful incidents. I think a lot of us feel traumatized; the awful things that man spews really bring up a lot from the past.

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    1. thank you, Kathy. Looking on the bright side (as I am inclined to do) I see this as the beginning of a wide open dialogue that is long overdue.

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  3. Many GLTB's have experienced similar predation and bear the extra, shaming pain of silence around it. At nine when I confessed what happened to our parish priest he said and I quote: " You were provocative and occasioned a mortal sin in another." I didn't understand what the words meant, but never forgot them. I come as close to 'hate' as possible when it concerns child sexual abuse and sexual abuse of any kind. I consider Dump a human Makware and hope he will be deleted.

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    1. how awful for a priest to blame you for the abuse you suffered. not an isolated situation, of that I am sure. Children, in particular, are damaged emotionally and mentally for the cruel and criminal behavior wrought upon them.

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  4. Thank you for writing down your experiences, especially those at 11 years old, which bring back painful memories for so many of us and which can be seen in their true light now. Puberty came very early for me, with my first period just before I had my 11th birthday. I sensed then and now that my parents were horrified by my developing body. I looked much older than my age. Instead of being able to delight in my blossoming self, I experienced only immense unbearable shame which developed into full-blown self-hate and an eating disorder from which I found no relief until I was 37 years old. I was already shy at that age, but I effectively withdrew socially beginning with the onset of my period. Never dated. Never had a boyfriend until I was 18 years old and could never believe that he loved me. Felt myself ugly and unlovable. Experienced a traumatic groping when I applied for a job as a waitress at age 21, when the owner of the coffee shop said he needed to measure me for a uniform. When, in tears, I reported the incident to the job agency, the woman who had arranged for the job interview for me (and was a few years older than I was) said empathetically, "That has happened to me, too. 'm sorry to hear that ithappened to you, but that's just the way the world is." I wonder how many young women he groped and grieve for those women who were so desperate for work that they accepted employment with him. My guess is that the job agency continued to send young women to be interviewed by that man. My hope is that now, today, with all these stories coming to light, there will be a change for the better. Always hopeful.

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    1. oh, thank you for sharing your story. Maybe our stories will help changes hearts and minds -- and behavior. I, too, developed an eating disorder when I was 18, but by the grace of who knows what, had moved through it by the time I turned 21. I don't have many photos of me from that time, because, horrified years later (by the photos) at the skeleton that was my body, I ripped them up and threw them out. A great relief came to me as I entered my 40s and men stopped staring. I guess I 'aged out' of being a sexual target in everyday interactions. Still, I am aware, women of any age are at risk by predatory men.

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  5. Sad and ashamed. I am to be a man, here participating and reading these very sad stories. Much worse than I knew, men in general must be made aware, change, and carry the shame. It does, I know, change nothing for me to say, I am sorry.

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