This is not a food post. I’m not sorry.
This might get uncomfortable. I’m not sorry.
I’m disgusted with my country. I’m not sorry.
Today was the one year anniversary of the mainstream #metoo movement and it’s also the day an accused sexual assailant was appointed to the Supreme Court.
I can’t change this today, but I am registered to vote and ready to make a change once November rolls in. I have spent the past few weeks reading and listening to brave women coming forward with their stories and experiences, and I think it’s time to air some thoughts of my own out.
When I was very young, I’d have to guess about 5 or 6, a man exposed himself to me while I was running a lemonade stand on my safe suburban street. Even at that age, my first instinct was to say nothing, that I would be in trouble, that it was my fault. After about a day I spoke up. I remember talking to a police officer at my house. That’s pretty much all I remember.
I went to Mardi Gras one year with a group of college friends. We were walking down Bourbon St one night when I felt someone reach between my legs from behind. Thankfully I had pants on, if I had to find some silver lining in this disgusting situation. Some words were exchanged between him and the guys who were with me, but he ran off as quickly as he could into the crowd. Probably to go grab more girls by their… whatever word you want to use here. The current president know’s how to fill in that blank.
Our favorite spot in college to play pool was almost ruined for us when one night. A group of drunk guys decided to continuously walk by my girl friend and I, blatantly taking flash photos of us, sometimes right in our faces. (This was in the days of digital cameras.) Our boyfriends and a couple other male friends told them to stop, but they wouldn’t. We decided to leave, and as I walked up the stairs to street level in my dress, the guys took pictures up my skirt. My boyfriend (now husband, *swoon*) was behind paying the tab, saw this happen, and told the guy to delete all the photos. When he declined, his camera ended up in pieces on the floor in a puddle of beer. If I had been alone that night, those photos would probably be somewhere on the internet right now.
There’s a member of my family I can’t talk to anymore, for what started as personal reasons, but lately the issues have been amplified. This person openly mocks survivors and wishes harm against females & politicians with opposing views. This person will always be associated with me and it turns my stomach.
And these are just some of the highlights, the things I’m cool with sharing at this point. I’ve had a boss at a restaurant job who had too many drinks after work and said in front of me and many co-workers that he only hired me because he thought I was attractive. I’ve had a guy threaten to kill me when I didn’t want to go out with him. I’ve had guys spread rumors about what I supposedly did with them, sometimes to the point of me needing to provide alibis, because no one was going to just take my word for it. Then let’s add on a million cat calls and creepy comments over the years. Deja vu, ladies?
I’m positive at least one of the men who have shaped my current point of view will read this, and I hope with all my heart they recognize their mistakes and try to be better. For the record, I don’t need apologies or your repentance. But the shallow part of me hopes you wake up in a cold sweat at night the way I do sometimes.
The point is, this shit happens ALL THE TIME. This is what growing up surrounded by rape culture feels like. Although legitimately upsetting, I consider the things I have experienced to be minor in the grand scope of it all. Still, watching Dr Christine Blasey Ford testify, I was sweaty, I was nauseas and eventually so worked up, I didn’t know if I wanted to punch a hole in a wall or cry. Not because I experienced exactly what Dr Ford did, but because I’m so exhausted by story after story of women not being believed.
Even now I feel some weird lingering guilt while I write this post, this feeling like I shouldn’t be talking about this. It’s uncomfortable. It might offend someone. People will think you are exaggerating or looking for attention.
Part of that is right. I do want attention, but not just for my stories. I want attention for the greater sum that my stories add too. If you think you don’t know someone effected but the event this week, you are wrong. Everyone, men included, should be able to share what’s happened to them without being afraid. Why should we be embarrassed? The creeps who did these things are the ones who should be drowning in shame, not us.
I made a promise to myself a few months ago: stop saying sorry when you aren’t.
The more we speak up, the more people will realize that this happens everywhere, all the time, to anyone. The more we speak up, the more potential predators will learn that their actions do have consequences and we aren’t putting up with this anymore. The more we speak up, the louder we get. Like those those two beautiful, strong, LOUD women who told Senator Flake to look them in the eye and tell them why he was going to vote for an accused sexual deviant to be appointed to the highest court in the land. Like all the women I see daily on social media, baring their souls and sharing their truth. Like Christine Blasey Ford.
I believe her.
I believe survivors.
I believe we can take this country back.