This is a strange time. My nightly dreams are full of fright and fight. I'm angry in the awake world
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.