Honestly, I felt I had gotten past my wounds of being sexually assaulted all those years ago. Really, I did. Today I found myself weeping again over the loss of dignity and honor of all who have suffered from sexual abuse. I wept for my own loss–for all our losses–because in tolerating these types of actions, it degrades and dishonors us all.
During this election cycle I’ve heard many, many reports from women all over the world who talk/blog/write about having flashbacks as a result of watching this abuser (you know the one, he’s running for the title of Leader of the Free World) not only commit sexual and verbal assault and get away with it, but to then laugh in our faces afterward.
Chew on this for a while: Nearly EVERY woman or girl you know has been on the receiving end of some sort of sexual abuse or assault. I’m not exaggerating. Don’t think so? Ask around. Ask your friends, your wives, your co-workers. Ask your sisters–your daughters. Ask your mother.
At age 11 I was groped by an uncle, at 13 I was assaulted by a family member, at age 15 a man exposed himself to me and two of my girlfriends on a lonely country road. At age 20 I was told by my parents I was a slut. Later I was sexually denigrated by both my exes during the course of our separate marriages. So…I know.
I will no longer sit by and remain silent.
Today I came across a post on social media that posed this question: Ladies: Would you rather spend a night of wild passionate sex with (a particular presidential candidate–I will NOT use his name)or take a razor to your eyes? I’m sure the author meant it to be funny but it was about as far from funny as you can get. Reading through the replies, I was stunned to find a number of women willing to choose the former, thinking the whole thing hilarious. The sad truth is, these are just the sort of choices many of us are left with in a culture that tolerates the “boys will be boys” mentality: We either have to smile and put up with it, or face the vicious backlash that results from speaking up. Women and people of color and gays have been “kept in our place” through threats of poverty, job loss, loss of our children, loss of shelter and loss of our dignity. .
When will enough be enough? When will sexual assault become unfunny to you? When it happens to your daughter? Your girlfriend? Your wife? When will you speak up on another’s behalf?
I do not have all the answers here. Crawling out of the utter denigration and disrespect of the feminine will be long and painful. And, there is as much of an imbalance in women as in men. (Trust me when I tell you some of the most vicious attacks I have received on this subject have been from women.)
What we can do is to tell our stories. We can support each other. We can refuse to let someone travel through the aftermath of their assault alone. We can be a sacred witness–to truly hear those who have suffered from any sort of abuse, no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation. Let us no longer be bound together by our wounds but instead by our strength, our courage, and our voices.
So, I will promise you this:
I vow to speak up on behalf of those who have suffered the unspeakable, who have tolerated the intolerable.
I will not play nice.
I will not smile so you can feel more comfortable.
I will not keep silent to protect your wounds.
I will not laugh nervously to escape the backlash/assault that results from speaking up.
I will not dumb down to protect your fragile ego.
I will not shut the fuck up so you can assuage your guilt and continue on with your destruction of all things feminine.
I will NOT.