Never, not once, does it occur to me that other humans should police their appearance in accordance with the behavior, or possible behavior, of my sons.
I love my sons. With my entire body and soul and heart. I love them more than I love myself.
But fuck all of that. Entirely.
A mom wrote a letter to the editor of the Notre Dame student paper decrying leggings. She feels women should stop wearing them. Because men.
In the interest of transparency, I’ll share with you that I was assaulted while wearing leggings. By two men. (Boys really. They were teens.) Two men I thought were friends. And while they assaulted me, they told me it was my fault.
Because I wore leggings.
I will be goddamned before I tell my sons that they are free to act like predators because of the way someone else dresses. That they are free to act like assholes because of someone else’s appearance. That they are free to act like an orange faced bag of shit because of how someone else’s body moves.
Recognizing and eliminating injustice begins with bodily autonomy.
Again. For the people in the back.
Recognizing and eliminating injustice begins with bodily autonomy.
If we are ok with women being ridiculed for their clothing choices, it is easier to accept their assaults.
If we are ok with transgender people being ridiculed for looking different, it is easier to accept their assaults.
If we are ok with the disabled being ridiculed for their body differences, it is easier to accept their assaults.
When we other them, when we place human beings into categories that are different from the categories we find ourselves in, and when we begin to think of those categories as less than our own, we chip away at their humanity.
We chip away at our humanity.
We are all human beings. And we need to unpack this bullshit. And fast.
This is why black and brown bodies are in danger. Why the police are called on them for just existing. This is why women are taught, from the time they are kids, to always be on the defense from sexual assault. Rather than men being taught, from the time they are boys, what active and enthusiastic consent looks and sounds like. This is why transgender and nonbinary people struggle to just safely fucking pee in public bathrooms. Why the disabled have to battle every day through an existence that is designed around limited access for them.
It is all rooted in bodies. How we treat them. How we view them. How we shame them.
We learn at the feet of our own selves. We learn to hate our own appearances. And it’s a trauma that we perpetuate every time we shame someone else. No matter how small it seems.
We are perpetuating some toxic garbage on the bodies of fellow humans every day.
This isn’t about leggings.
It will never be just about leggings.
And I will never entertain the notion that I should be out here teaching my children that what another human being wears is a signal of entitlement. That the clothing another human being chooses gives my sons access to that human’s body.
I haven’t crocheted lately. Or embroidered. Or even doodled.
I bought myself a planner that has coloring pages within it. I colored one picture the day I brought it home. Since then it has remained colorless. Void of creativity.
Everything weighs so heavily on me. And I know a lot of that has to do with depression. But more so it has to do with the world and the ways in which it keeps closing in on me.
Every day, people talk about my body as if it isn’t real to them. As if there isn’t a heart that beats or arms that hug or eyes that cry when their proclamations spill down in toxic waves of cold detachment.
My body is regulated.
My healthcare choices. My birth control choices. My medication choices.
It can be grabbed and groped and leered at and then debated. People can decide if I deserved what I got and if I should wear what I choose.
What it looks like is for the benefit of others. Never for the benefit of me. I buy into notions of beauty and poise and aesthetics without even recognizing what I am doing. Another woman comes along and points out the absurdity of women being made to believe they have to have no body hair and I bite my lip. I lose what she says after that because my brain begins calculating the hours I’ve lost to shaving beneath hot streams of water, from ankle to armpit and everything in between, for years of my life.
And still to this day.
I won’t give up on it because of her comment.
There’s still a part of me that wants to have some semblance of control over my self. That wants to believe that a choice I made was really ever mine to make.
I want to feel connected to it. To have some type of ownership over it. I want to believe that I’m the only one who makes decisions about this body that I feel I know so intimately, yet view through lenses that someone else has fitted over my eyes.
I know it’s not just me. It isn’t just about my body.
Even more than mine, it’s happening to the bodies of women of color, trans bodies, the bodies of young black men.
And so there are no words or pictures. The well of creativity has run dry.
All the water it held is being used to put out fires.
Relentless, widespread fires.
Stoked by the anger of men desperate for power and fed by the bodies of anyone who challenges them.
I’d spent that summer working for a small veterinarian. Cleaning cages. Feeding animals. Answering phones. Light cleaning. I’d come in on Saturdays to help out. Then on Sundays to work alone. They were technically closed but someone had to be there in case of an emergency.
One Saturday, they needed assistance while putting a dog to sleep. And I knew then the job was not for me.
My father brought me up to the local pet food store. This was prior to the national chains really taking off. We owned several dogs, and the store was just blocks from our home, so he’d become good friends with the owner. I had a brief interview and was hired, at the age of 15, for my second job. One that would accommodate my school hours and not ask me to deal with euthanizing animals.
I was trained on the register. On signing people up for a rewards program. I was taught about all the various products the store carried. The owner believed in natural products, and really pushed people to invest in higher quality food products for their pets. He kept a huge list of rescue organizations specific to different breeds at the front of the store because he believed in adoption and refused to sell animals. He taught me about restocking and inventory and providing exceptional customer service.
He also taught me how he liked his shoulder and back massage.
The stock room was in the basement of the store. He showed me where everything was kept and was clear that I was not expected to pick up or carry the fifty pound bags of dog food up the stairs to the store when they needed restocking. He would always take care of that.
And then I would give him a massage.
He always restocked at night. When the store was quieter. Customers were less likely to come in. But even if they did, the massage took place in the back of the store. Back behind all the shelving. Back where there were no windows. He’d hear the bell above the front door as it opened and stood up quickly from his chair to go attend to the customer.
Nobody ever saw.
And I never said a word.
I hated every second of it. My skin would crawl. I’d get nauseous. I hated the scratch of his sweater beneath my fingers. I hated the skin between his collar and the base of his hairline. A constant fear that my fingers might slip and touch that skin, might cause him to think I enjoyed this or wanted to provide something more than a back and neck rub, ate away at the air in my lungs. I loathed the back of his head. There were nights I went home with my face aching from cringing and my fingers aching from squeezing.
I thought at times that if I really was good at it, if I really made his shoulders feel better, it might end quicker.
I stood there almost every time that I had to work until closing and, when I could no longer stand to look at the back of his head, I stared up at the ceiling willing someone to come into the store with the power and energy of every single cell in my body.
But I never said a word.
Because I needed that job. I was young. I thought maybe this was just what one had to do in order to keep a job. I’d spent my life being silent and quiet and shy and working at keeping my father, my abuser, from getting angry. Or angrier. And this guy was his friend.
I didn’t always stay silent, though.
Three jobs later . . .
This time I’m nineteen and working at a motorcycle shop that contained a clothing boutique. My father was gone. My boyfriend had left me. I was free and single and surrounded by men on a daily basis. I started experimenting sexually with a much older man I worked with. A man everyone there warned me against, but who did things to me none of the boys I dated previously had ever done. I was feeling bold and brave.
I wore short skirts and tight shirts. Thigh highs and high heels. All of which were encouraged. This was a motorcycle shop, first and foremost, and sex would help sell t-shirts and leather jackets to all those guys who sidled over to say hi and ask my name while their hogs got oil changes.
My stock was stored back with the parts behind the parts counter. All of it on shelves. Some of which were seven feet tall. I needed a ladder to reach that stock. And Ben always managed to appear when I sneaked back there to restock. Just to see if I needed help.
The only help he provided to me was when I had to climb the ladder.
“I’ll keep that steady for you,” he’d say with a smile.
Though he never held the ladder.
His hands always landed on the backs of my legs. Upper thighs. Not quite all the way under my skirt.
But not quite below the hem of it either.
it took a few weeks, but this time, I felt more empowered. I felt braver. This time, I said something.
I went to the general manager. A man who’d always been kind to me and made me laugh. I told him what had been going on. I told him I didn’t want it happening anymore, but that I didn’t feel comfortable telling Ben when the two of us were alone in the tightness of a stockroom aisle. Hidden behind high shelves.
I told him I wanted him to speak to Ben. And that I didn’t want to have to discuss it with Ben.
The general manager seemed sympathetic. And concerned. He would take care of this, he assured me.
The next time I worked a shift with Ben, he cornered me in the stock room.
He wasn’t loud. But he was adamant. I was wrong about the whole thing. He was a married man and he needed this job and I misunderstood the whole thing.
He kept at it until I apologized to him. Only after I apologized was I allowed to pass him and exit the stock room to get back to work.
With the eyes of Ben, and all the other parts guys he took turns whispering to, watching me from across the store.
We keep telling these stories. We keep responding to cries of, “Why now? Why is she only speaking up now?” We keep explaining what it means to be at the mercy of a man who holds power. What it means to want to keep your job. Not just keep your job, but keep it and be able to work in relative comfort and safety.
Harvey Weinstein is a high profile example, in an industry I can bet is teeming with examples just as horrific. Or worse.
But sometimes Harvey is the guy in the pet store. Or the bike shop. Or the local accounting firm.
Harvey Weinstein attacked and threatened in pricey hotel rooms around the world.
But often the attacks and threats and gropes and grabs take place desk-side. In musty stock rooms. Beside frying oil.
We go home tired and wrung out and sometimes those feelings have nothing to do with the physical labor of the job itself and everything to do with the fight to maintain our personal space and our dignity and our safety.
This is not an issue for women to resolve.
Men need to answer some questions.
Like, why they think this is ok. Why they aren’t recognizing how inappropriate and abusive this behavior is. Why they think they are entitled to treat women like this.
Years later Jacob hired my younger male cousin. And years after that I worked up the nerve to ask if he ever gave Jacob a back rub or shoulder massage. The look on his face prior to him responding verbally was enough to let me know he’d never been asked.
I’d like to ask Jacob why.
And when they’re done answering all the questions that begin with, “Why . . . ,” men need to answer all the ones that begin with “How?”
How are they going to confront this in their communities? How are they going to ensure it doesn’t happen to any woman?
Not just their daughters, wives, sisters.
How are they going to work on this issue?
Because this is not an issue for women to resolve.
Which I find unusual because I don’t consider myself secretive. They aren’t terribly scandalous secrets. Just parts of my soul that I keep to myself.
Because no matter how long we’ve been together, and despite what we’ve been through, this is all a house of cards. There’s no guarantee that any passing breeze won’t whip the foundation out from below. That I may reveal the wrong thing and cause the sort of tsunami no woman can control.
He’s never hit me. Never raised a hand to me.
But he could. And I don’t ever forget that. I’ve even warned him. The first several years especially I would remind him from time to time.
I will leave you if you hit me.
They are my kids.
He’s their father. He’s a good father. And not just in the earns a living for us way. Though he does work his ass off for us.
I mean in the ways that count. If one of his kids finds a new hobby, he’s all in. Something breaks? He’ll fix it. He brings home little surprises for them. There were times we had no money, but he still brought home surprises because he talked so much to others about his kids that if they had something to give away, they’d seek him out.
Here, the boys might like this.
Boxes of baseball cards and a beat up gaming chair. Headphones or some candy.
He goes to their games and events and jokes with their friends.
But they’re still my kids.
I refer to them that way when we argue.
He’s communicated to me how much that bothers him. Yet, I still call them mine. In a voice that cannot be mistaken.
It feels like an incantation. Some type of magical spell I cast over them. If they’re mine, it keeps them safe.
From whom, you wonder? I often wonder the same. And if I’m being honest . . .
From anyone, really. But yes, even from him.
I don’t believe him when he says I’m attractive.
I don’t believe any man who tells me that.
How can I be? I don’t look anything like the women in the ads, in the magazines, in the movies, in porn, in TV shows, on runways, on billboards, or anywhere else that women are on display.
That’s the ideal, right? The long legs and flat stomachs and perky tits. Fuck, I remember being in elementary school and reading the Little House series of books for the first time. I remember the way Laura watched as her mother and aunts readied themselves for a dance. Cinching corsets and bragging that Pa’s hands could still meet around his wife’s waist.
I remember the disappointment I felt alongside Laura as she grew into a young woman who lamented her appearance. She would never be willowy or pale or thin. Even then, Laura in the 1800’s and I in the fourth grade, we recognized the other category we were pushed into, beyond our control, for not meeting or exceeding society’s standard of the ideal woman.
So no, I don’t believe him.
If the house is messy, it’s my fault. I take it all on, the guilt and feelings of not measuring up somehow. In some way. Even when I worked two jobs and volunteered as class mom to two kids in school so that I could feel I was still a part of their day, I’d come home and beat myself up that the house wasn’t more organized.
Clearly I couldn’t have it all.
That disarray revealed all the cracks in my facade. And weakness will never do. Not when you’re a woman trying to prove that somehow, some fucking way, you’ve got it all covered and dammit you’ve earned it.
No matter what it is.
I always feel I have to prove I’ve earned it.
The fact that he’s never asked me to . . . doesn’t seem to matter.
A detailed response to this question posted on Facebook:
What are ways that you have difficulty trusting the men in your life that objectively have earned your trust?
This isn’t about overtly horrible men, or even average men. Specifically how has your experience of misogyny made it difficult for you to form trusting bonds with men that you WANT to trust? What is your experience with that phenomenon? How does it make you feel? How does it affect your relationship to those men?
ONLY people who experience misogyny – and it’s on you to decide if you feel you qualify because some non-binary people do – should respond to this challenge.
Their action calls for “a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.”
Already online I’m seeing the following responses:
And these are just the issues grabbing national headlines now.
In an op-ed for The Guardian, organizers pointed out the following:
While Trump’s blatant misogyny was the immediate trigger for the huge response on 21 January, the attack on women (and all working people) long predates his administration. Women’s conditions of life, especially those of women of color and of working, unemployed and migrant women, have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years, thanks to financialization and corporate globalization.
Lean-in feminism and other variants of corporate feminism have failed the overwhelming majority of us, who do not have access to individual self-promotion and advancement and whose conditions of life can be improved only through policies that defend social reproduction, secure reproductive justice and guarantee labor rights. As we see it, the new wave of women’s mobilization must address all these concerns in a frontal way. It must be a feminism for the 99%.
If you are truly committed to getting the nation’s attention, to getting the attention of our nation’s policymakers, then the time for being nice and demure is over.
It’s been over for a long time now.
A house cat trying to get its paw into a man’s soup will merely be swatted off the table.
A lion upending the table and dousing a man with hot soup is going to get his full, unequivocal attention.
We all put on our pussy hats a few weeks ago.
Did you put it on to be a house cat with a soft meow? Or to be a lion with a deafening roar?
I don’t need a permit to tell me I have a right to be heard. I have a right to make noise.
It’s time to be loud. To own our space.
It’s time to take up space.
If that means blocking traffic and disrupting businesses for a few hours? I’m all in.
Whatever you do, when you show up on March 8, 2017, do not do it their way. Don’t be polite and quiet. This isn’t a quaint get-together.
This is a strike. A protest. A national movement to defend and improve our rights.
Recently someone wrote to me letting me know he is also a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. He went on to say that Springsteen is a great lyricist and I agreed.
He wrote back again.
Not a bad guitarist or showman either. Actually the only thing I don’t like is his politics.
I responded, I’m very much a fan of all that. Including his politics.
The response I received was that this person opposed Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina after they passed the HB2 Act ordering people to use the restroom that corresponds with the person’s gender at birth. The law also eliminates anti-discrimination protection for the LGBTQ population.
My inbox correspondent stated that the only people Springsteen “hurt” were his fans. Also, liberals call people names when they lose arguments.
My response is copied below, and I indicate where I’ve edited it:
I would probably be considered liberal, though I prefer not to label myself. I’m sorry if you’ve experienced liberals calling people names. I’ve experienced the exact opposite. Conservatives calling me “libtard,” telling me to “suck it up,” and “quit being a whiny bitch.”
I applaud his stance on cancelling concerts in North Carolina and I hope he continues to do so since that state’s government seems bent on eroding people’s rights. He didn’t just hurt his fans, a risk he took that alienated some fans of his. He also took business away from that state. Which will hopefully encourage business oweners there to take a stand and encourage their legislators to get rid of that law.
It may be easy for you to say, “If you have a penis, use that bathroom.” But I encourage you to remember that you (I assume) don’t have to wonder what it will look like if you use a bathroom that someone else decides you have no right being in. You have never experienced that fear. Neither have I. And so I read and speak to and listen to those who have so that I can try to understand exactly what is the big deal.
HERE I REFERENCED A PHOTO OF A WOMAN WITH WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A TRADITIONALLY FEMININE BODY, WHO ALSO HAD A PENIS. I AM NOT LINKING IT HERE BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO DRAG THAT PERSON INTO THIS DISCUSSION.
What bathroom should she use?
If she walks into a men’s room looking like that she runs the risk, just as I would, of being groped, harassed, or worse. If she uses the women’s room in NC, she runs the risk of being called a pervert and being arrested. That’s if she’s lucky. If she’s not, she’ll end up harassed, beaten, or worse.
I’m a woman. Listen to what I, and other women, have to say about “perverts.” They’re everywhere. I’ve been harassed, groped, called disgusting names. Other women I know have been assaulted, raped, beaten.
It doesn’t happen in the women’s bathroom. It happens everywhere. On the street. In stores. At work.
If you’re worried about your daughters, I encourage you to focus on educating men about how they speak to and treat women.
I am not going to quote the person. I just don’t feel like asking permission to share his words here. Plus, I’m not in the mood to edit for spelling and grammar.
His argument back was protect the children. They are all in danger from bathroom pedophiles and while he feels bad that this might negatively impact transgender people, he’s going to protect the little girls of the world. And that doesn’t make him a bad person.
No matter what I said, that’s what he kept coming back to. Sorry, but kids are more important in his book. Besides, he sometimes gets the shit end of the stick. Like when he gets searched a lot by the TSA because of his Irish name. (Something about the IRA.)
I said things like:
But your life isn’t in danger at the hands of the TSA. That example doesn’t really align with her experience.
They aren’t pervs. They are transgender.
Pedophiles don’t generally dress as women to get into the ladies room to attack children.
Which, I think, can give you an idea of the things he was saying. Oh, except at the end when he asked if we could discuss something less depressing. Like, how about something kinky?!?!
Uh, no. Actually, fuck no.
Finally I asked for his bathroom attack statistics and he said I could google them. He admitted it’s a low number, but it’s on the rise, according to him, because of these bathroom laws. Then he wished me well.
What can I say to that?
I hear what you’re saying and I know nothing of what it is like to be transgender and not feel safe using a restroom in public. I hear that it is humiliating and dangerous. I hear you when you say women are more in danger out of a public restroom than in it because of how men treat them. I hear all of that. But I am going to stick to my original position of saying I don’t give a rat’s pink ass because I’m protecting the tiny child wimmenz.
That’s a strong refusal to experience any type of empathy for a human being.
And I don’t know how to deal with that. I don’t know how to deal with someone who dismisses me during a calm, respectful conversation the minute I ask him to back up his claims with facts.
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I take my kids to an indoor pool fairly regularly. A few weeks ago while there, the lifeguard, an older man with a long ponytail both in his hair and in his beard, popped in a CD.
The first song was an uncommonly heard Bruce Springsteen song that I adore. It has very personal significance to my life, so of course my ears perked up. When the song ended, other songs by other artists came on, making it clear the CD was a mix and leading me to believe he probably made it. He probably chose that song himself.
The CD played on repeat while we were there. When the song came on for the third time, he had gotten up from his lifeguard chair and was standing near me, so I bit.
Are you a Springsteen fan?
I used to be.
Now, I know I’m biased, but used to be? What is that shit?
So I reply, Oh. I just assumed because of the song. That’s not a song of his you typically hear from a casual fan.
He smiled. Yeah, I love his work. I’ve seen him live. Incredible show. I just can’t stand his politics anymore.
At this point, I’m already done. One, because I do like his politics and I’m not looking to debate this guy. I’m here to swim and play with my kids. Two, because I’m typically able to disconnect the artist from the person. I realize not everyone else can, and that’s their choice, and also not something I’m looking to debate.
But he continues.
I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but years ago there was an incident with the police in New York City . . .
Let’s come to a full stop here for a moment.
Because my head, at this very moment, sounds like the inside of a church bell with all its ringing. I know exactly where he’s going with this, not just because I’m a Springsteen fan, but because I grew up right outside NYC.
I want to make sure you know where he’s going.
Super long story short:
On February 4, 1999, Amadou Diallo, a black man and undocumented immigrant working as a street vendor, stood outside his Bronx apartment building shortly after midnight.
Four plainclothes NYPD officers in an unmarked police car drove by, decided he was either a possible serial rapist suspect or maybe just standing there as a lookout (he was neither), and jumped out of their car.
He started running up stairs and pulled his wallet out of his jacket. The officers decided the wallet was a gun and the four of them fired their weapons 41 times, hitting him with 19 bullets. Diallo was unarmed.
He died. None of the officers were convicted. For one of them, Kenneth Boss, this was the second time he shot and killed an unarmed man. He still retained his job with the NYPD, given desk duty for a few years until his gun was returned in 2012. In 2015 he was promoted to sergeant.
Bruce Springsteen wrote a song in response to the incident titled “American Skin (41 Shots).” It premiered at a concert he performed in Atlanta on June 4, 2000. From there, he and the E Street Band headed to NYC for a ten show run at Madison Square Garden.
As word of the new song spread, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch wrote a letter to the association’s members. “The title seems to suggests that the shooting of Amadou Diallo was a case of racial profiling — which keeps repeating the phrase, ‘Forty-one shots,’ it read. “I consider it an outrage that he would be trying to fatten his wallet by reopening the wounds of this tragic case at a time when police officers and community members are in a healing period.” He also “strongly urge[d]” that officers neither attend the concert nor moonlight as security at any of his shows.
Lynch wasn’t the only one upset. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir also condemned Springsteen, while Bob Lucente, the president of the New York chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, took things a step further by referring to the singer as a “dirtbag” and a “floating f–.”
I’m going to go a step further and clarify for you exactly what Bob Lucente, head of the New York chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, stated.
“He’s turned into some type of fucking dirtbag. He has all these good songs and everything, American flag songs and all that stuff, and now he’s a floating fag. You can quote me on that.“
Sounds totally like a guy I want leading a police organization.
Let’s forget about the fact that the song actually takes a nuanced look at the incident, singing with empathy for both sides of the coin. The NYPD did not want him playing the song in New York. Because police officers were trying to heal.
Springsteen played it anyway.
Let’s cut back to me and the lifeguard.
He said, I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but years ago there was an incident with the police in New York City . . .
I looked him in the eye and said, Amadou Diallo.
I grew up in New York. The man’s name was Amadou Diallo. I assume that’s what you’re referring to.
Oh yeah, he said with a snap of his fingers. Yeah, I didn’t like that. The cops asked him not to play that song and he just wouldn’t listen. Just made more trouble for them at a time when they didn’t need it.
I walked away. I’d already crossed my arms as he was speaking, and then a second prior to him even finishing that sentence, I walked away.
What can I say to that? I gave up before I even began, and I’m ashamed of that.
An unarmed man was fired upon 41 times and shot 19 times and died on the steps of his apartment building but don’t sing that song because you might hurt somebody’s feewings.
That’s a strong refusal to experience any type of empathy for a human being.
And I don’t know how to deal with that.
I slipped back into the water and half heartedly played with my kids a bit longer, then left.
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While these two examples are very similar, they actually illustrate two different things that frustrate me.
In the first instance, I was writing. I didn’t feel the need to back down. I was calm and the conversation never got nasty. But as soon as I mentioned statistics, he shut the conversation down.
It happens to me all the time.
In the second instance, I was quiet and walked away because I hate confrontation and I feel as if I don’t articulate as well when I speak as I do when I write.
I hate that I do that.
Both things frustrate me to no end. I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
I get frustrated when I back down, and even more frustrated when others shut down once they realize I’m intelligent and am going to want to discuss actual facts.
Ultimately, I’m trying to figure out how to get through a willful, stubborn refusal to see anything but a person’s own experience. That’s all I seek.
The wisdom and strength to know how to navigate these conversations. I don’t know how to get people to listen. I don’t know how to refuse to be dismissed.
It feels, in the end, like I don’t know how to be taken seriously.
The second story in my Don’t Silence Us series is from a woman who only wants to be identified as she described below. She wrote the piece below in its entirety, and I have not edited or changed a word. If you choose to share this story, and help amplify her voice, please use the hashtags #WereStillHere and #FixThisGOP
I’m 42 years old.
I have 3 daughters and 2 granddaughters.
I fear for them all.
I am a bisexual Native American and white woman. I was married to an abuser who voted for Trump. I was not suprised at all. Even though we are states apart, I swear I could see him sitting in a chair, nodding right along as Trump made comment after comment after derogatory comment about women.
Watching that man on t.v. felt like watching my ex. The mood swings, the arrogence, the homophobia, the Islamaphobia, his hate for other cultures and colors was just…like…my ex.
I survived 4 horrific years being abused. I shouldn’t have to do that again. I did NOT consent to that from the ex or Trump. My ex raped me repeatedly. He accepted money from men to allow them to rape me. He also beat the hell out of me. I feel that Trump will do the same things.
If we survive the next 4 years, maybe we can fix it, the broken system that allowed this election to happen.
I was triggered over and over by this male. I realize I’m nobody important but my vote should count!
In light of the results of Election 2016, not just who was elected President but the hateful platform adopted by his party who now hold control of both Congress and the Senate, I’ll be featuring stories told by those who feel marginalized and/or voiceless in our country. You can email your story to email@example.com. All stories are shared in complete anonymity, unless otherwise requested by the owner of the story. I encourage all who feel voiceless, or who work with those who need/want their voices amplified, to participate.
Social media can be toxic nowadays. In the aftermath of this brutal election, I see people arguing, families splitting, insults flying everywhere.
It is partly what inspired me to write this and encourage those people who feel marginalized in today’s society to contact me directly to share their stories and make their voices heard in a safe, anonymous way.
Today I posted the following on my personal Facebook page and am sharing it here for anyone who would like to use it. Feel free to share this post.
Hi there! Please read carefully because your decision to stay Facebook friends with me is just that: yours, for now.
I would never normally post hate documents, but I’m awfully tired of comments like, “You need to stop reading the liberal media.”
I spend, on average, 6 hours a day reading. Most of that is NOT from any media at all. It’s from real people sharing from their real lives.
THIS . . . is not from any media outlet. It is direct from the source. In their own words. This is the party and agenda elected to office. Here. In America, 2016. I will highlight for you a few particularly disturbing passages in a comment below this post.
This is about way more than some spray-tanned demagogue elected to the highest office in our nation. People chose to put this party into majority power in both houses. Essentially ratifying this document. This is what the Republican Party IN THEIR OWN WORDS ran on.
Since Election Day I’ve been horrified. To be clear, I have voted Republican in my lifetime. (I vote in every election, not just Presidential ones.) I’ve never before seen a party so openly discriminatory. This isn’t about Republican vs. Democrat for me.
It’s about hate vs. love.
Intolerance vs. acceptance.
But I will not be silent any longer. Not at all.
Right now, I need to use my voice and the privilege afforded me as a white, cisgender, heterosexual, married female to stand up for those who feel marginalized or voiceless or afraid.
I need to do this for me because I can’t live with myself if I stay silent.
More importantly, I need to do this for my family and friends who are directly impacted in negative ways by this hateful rhetoric.
I will absolutely not stand by in silent witness.
So here are my FB rules:
1. I have no problem with you. Unless you post something racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-LGBTQ, or hateful towards any group or religion. Then I will absolutely call you out for doing so. Please feel free to unfriend, unfollow, and/or block me now.
2. I really want to keep loving so very many of you. So I promise here and now that if you do unfriend, unfollow, and/or block me, I will not notice and it will not change our relationship (if any) off of Facebook. Unless you speak to me the things I listed above in 1. But I’m super optimistic that will never happen!
3. Instagram is politics-free for me. Feel free to connect with me there, if you want, rather than here.
4. I will unfriend, unfollow, and/or block as I see fit to maintain the kind of positive environment I prefer and/or positive relationship that I want with you. I hope that you will extend to me the same courtesy I detailed in #2. If not, that’s your choice and I respect it.
5. This is non-negotiable. Any negative comments, on this or any other post, will be deleted and will also help me to pinpoint who I need to unfriend, unfollow, and/or block. Anything other than a “like” or “love” (especially a “ha-ha”) on this post will indicate to me the same. None of this amuses me.
I’m not debating anything about this post, but welcome respectful discourse going forward on my posts
6. I encourage you to take any anger or frustration this causes you and channel that into something productive for your family or society as a whole. That’s what I did and it feels great!
7. If you’re reading this and feel like you or someone you know would love to share their feelings/story in a safe, anonymous way, please click HERE.
1. Overturn the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Marriage is between “one man and one woman” (pg. 31 of the GOP Platform), and Republicans “do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”
2. Discourage gay couples from adopting children. “Every child deserves a married mom and dad,” the platform says (pg. 31 of the GOP Platform).
3. Make it legal to discriminate against LGBT people. “We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go against their religious views about such activities” (pg. 32 of the GOP platform). That includes adoption agencies, and doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (pg. 37 of the GOP Platform) who “should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession.”
4. Force everyone to use the bathroom of their biological sex at birth. Barack Obama and bureaucrats are trying to “impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories” (pg. 35 of the GOP platform). Their “edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues.”
5. Make “conversion therapy” legal for minors. “We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children,” (page 37) of the GOP platform says. That’s “an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away,’
I am a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight woman.
My husband is a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight male.
We live in a rural area. I attended college but do not hold a degree. My husband completed high school.
We are both descended from blue collar workers for as long as back as we can trace, with the exception of my paternal grandfather who had a college degree and was employed as a social worker.
The two of us are worse off than our parents were at our ages. They were worse off than their parents were before them.
My husband faced a serious injury that threatened his livelihood, required several surgeries, and left him unemployed and relying on workers compensation for years. He took advantage of a training program offered to him through workers comp to get certified in a new field since it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to work in his former field.
It pays thousands of dollars less than his potential to earn had been prior to the injury.
I have been unable to find a job since we moved to a more affordable state three years ago. I also have untreated mental illness.
We earn too much to qualify for any assistance aside from a Medicaid sponsored, state administered, health insurance plan for our children, yet too little to be able to get by without fear. The two of us have gone without health insurance for over three years. We cannot afford the insurance offered through his employer. In fact, were we to sign up for it, he would end up owing his employer money each pay period.
Over a year ago my husband’s employer gave him another $.75 per hour. That raise, which barely registered as a blip in his paycheck, but for which we are thankful nonetheless, made our children no longer eligible for free lunch at school. So that extra $6 per day, less taxes of course, was immediately spent already to feed the kids.
We play a monthly utility game, juggling electric, water, and gas. We don’t have cable, only internet, which we need because I can sometimes earn money helping people with their websites or writing. Unfortunately, that work is sporadic since most area businesses are small and don’t really see the value in paying someone to help with social media and other new-fangled crap their parents never had to deal with.
Sometimes, our gambling with the bills pays off. Other times, nothing seems to align, and something gets shut off.
This week, it was our water.
If our car breaks down, we face homelessness.
If our landlord gets sick of us always paying our rent late, we face homelessness.
If something happens to my husband and he can’t work, we face homelessness.
If one of us gets ill or injured and requires medical care, we face homelessness.
None of those statements are exaggerations. We have no savings. No cushion.
We operate, perpetually, in the red.
I go to a food pantry once per month to feed my children. I find I can’t look them in the eye when one or more of them says, “I’m hungry,” . . . and my hands are empty.
I once bragged to my mother, with genuine pride, that I managed to go food shopping and purchase everything I needed to feed our family of five for two whole weeks after meticulous meal planning, and spent just $88.
Next to a definition of Trump Supporter in the dictionary, should be my image.
However, my husband and I are NOT Trump supporters. In fact, his 100 day plan, the only concrete policy plan I’ve seen from him (but feel free to correct me if I’ve missed some other comprehensive plan), stands to directly impact my family in negative ways which I won’t enumerate here.
I already feel shaky revealing all of this. At this point, I think I’d rather delete all of this and post a picture of my vagina.
But I will say this . . .
The biggest reason I am not a Trump supporter . . .
I do not feel that bettering myself and my family should come at the expense of so many others. Nor do I feel that it is necessary.
If he wants to create energy jobs, do it through improving renewable energy sources rather than destroying the earth through coal (seriously wtf are we in the 1800’s again?), fracking, and other dangerous practices.
I don’t feel the jobs I’m vying for are being taken by immigrants, legal or otherwise.
I don’t agree that things like prohibiting women from getting abortions, or forcing children to pray in school. or forcing people to salute a symbolic piece of cloth will do anything to better me or my family.
These are the things I hear from a lot of his supporters though. That there’s a breakdown in society that is somehow causing them to not be able to find work that allows them to support their families. That somehow, if two dudes are banging their penises together in their bedroom somewhere, or a person born a woman identifies instead as a man, this means that an invisible, omnipotent force shall smite thee and thee shall ne’er find work again.
I read plenty of articles about his supporters that feel marginalized and I agree with helping these people to feel heard and supported. I do hear them and support them in terms of sympathizing with the disappearing middle class. America doesn’t manufacture anymore. We, collectively, decided that things like fair wages, safe work conditions, and our children getting educations rather than toiling the day away in factories, mattered to all of us. So companies take advantage of less expensive manufacturing in countries that don’t care about those same things.
I understand how frustrating it is to feel always at the mercy of luck. To feel always as if some hammer is about to drop and everything you’ve been juggling will crash down on you.
But I draw the line once I hear those people, people like me in so very many ways, start blaming others. Especially since the others all tend to be people from other countries, with different skin colors, with a different sexuality, with differing genders, with a different (or no) religion, etc.
That is why I don’t identify with many of his supporters. Because I draw a hard fucking line. It’s not in the sand. It’s un-erasable. In fucking Sharpie marker.
There is a way to make things better without oppressing others.
You won’t ever get me to bend on that.
I’ll even go a step further.
As upset as I am by the election results, (I’ve been crying for two days now and really need to get a grip) I still recognize that as shitty as my position is . . . it’s better than others.
Because I’m still a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight woman married to a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight male.
I absolutely recognize the privilege all of that allows us.
I have my children who love me in ways I cannot put into words. The love I feel from them, unconditional and pure and beautiful, keeps me aloft no matter how low I sink.
So I’ve cried for two days and I’m genuinely concerned about what this presidency means for me and my precious family who I feel I disappoint and fail almost every day but for whom I keep struggling because it has to get better some day.
But I’m even more concerned about what it means for YOU.
I had a stranger reach out to me yesterday and tell me a heartbreaking, uplifting story of such peril it absolutely floored me. It involved another country, a child-bride, a child-mother, escape from peril, and ultimately a love story forged here in America.
This stranger now lives with a deep, genuine fear of the way she’s being treated despite living here for over twenty years, having raised children who are successful and contribute to our country in deeply meaningful ways, and having mostly, in the past, felt the respect of those in her community.
I wept as I read what she shared with me:
Rabindranath Tagore was the first man who won Noble Literature prize outside of Europe in 1905. After Jallianwala Bagh massacre he returned his British knighthood. Tagore dedicated a poem to Gandhi. I am passing it to you.
If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou of evil luck,
open thy mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou of evil luck,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they do not hold up the light
when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou of evil luck,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thine own heart
and let it burn alone.
I don’t consider myself a brave person. Except here.
And by here I don’t mean WordPress, or even the internet.
I feel brave on the page. I feel confident here on the page. I do this writing thing fairly well, and I enjoy doing it.
I don’t know if I can make a difference. But I can certainly fucking write.
So that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll write your story. I have my voice, but maybe you don’t.
You can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep yourself anonymous or reveal yourself. That’s your choice and I will always respect it.
If you feel afraid, or marginalized, or want to share your story, or work for a non-profit that needs highlighting. If you want to fight against oppression. If you want someone to listen.
If you just want for something you can’t put into words.
Feel free to message me and we’ll discuss making your voice heard.
“You have a chip on your shoulder as big as Texas, and just daring someone to knock it off.”
That’s a comment someone left on my writing (on Medium.com). A writing I did on what it felt like to be grabbed by the pussy. To be backed into a corner and forcibly grabbed.
The random male stranger who left it first made sure to explain to me that it’s not possible to be grabbed there.
“You would stand a better chance of grabbing belly fat on someone, than you would of being able to grab a woman’s genitalia. When I say grab, I mean to be able to take something in your hand and hold it, such as a broomstick. Be pretty hard to grab something down there, and hold it, like that.”
But it’s that one comment I can’t get out of my mind. It feels like an itchy wool sweater I can’t take off.
It feels like a white hot fury. Like astonishment that leaves you at a loss for words, when words are what typically flood your existence.
I’m not a person who argues. Especially on my writing. My words are so endemic to me, stitched into my very being. I put my writing out into the world and let it go. I don’t tell people what to take from it, or how to experience it.
It’s mine no matter what I do with it, where I put it, or what others filter from it.
I don’t generally argue with commenters. I can’t let one writing take up that much space in my life. I need room to let all my other words spill forth.
But that comment . . .
It feels like being backed into a corner again.
Like I’m taking up too much space in the world.
Like I should be quiet and keep my eyes down.
It feels like now my words are being grabbed, choked off. As if I don’t have the right to be me, or share my story, or speak a very personal truth.
I feel startled. Shaken.
I’ll never let my words be silenced. To do so would be to curl up into a ball and give up.
Yet I can’t right now find the words for that comment.
Other than fuck off. Which might just be the “chip on my shoulder” speaking. But that’s ok.