Though I get the Me Too Movement, and yes, I am connected, I never felt like I needed to waive the flag of injustice. Until now. Not so much as a woman, or even as a victim of the same culture that Professor Blasey-Ford fell victim too decades ago, but as a citizen of the world.
I can say with certainty, that assault, no matter how long ago leaves a permanent boot print on the souls of the survivors. I can recall every single event leading up to and after my experience. My terrorizer was at least kind enough to dope me before leaving me for dead on a North Carolina byway, just out of reach of the elite private girls’ school I attended. I did what I should have done. I crawled to a pay phone and called the police. I went to the hospital, endured the examination, and then to the police station to report the event.
Yet despite my strength in those hours, I was told by local authorities, that though they knew this man, a local club owner, and prominent businessman, was a scoundrel, as they put it; he was dominant, wealthy, and out of reach.
I was told I shouldn’t have been in a nightclub on my 17th Birthday. I was after all underage and breaking the law. They didn’t know he had been calling me at school and arranged the entire evening after silver lighter, a gift for graduation, had been stolen in his club the week before. They didn’t know he offered to buy me a new one if I came to the club to get it. They didn’t know because I was too afraid to tell them I had been there before. After I was told that it really isn’t rape if you can’t remember what happened, I was beginning to understand nothing really happened. I agreed I would do better to consider returning to school and put it all behind me.
I tried to fit back in, but I was so embarrassed by the, “Don’t Let it Happen to You” posters all over campus following my attack. After being encouraged by the house adviser, I tried to go to the keg party mixers held on campus between our school and the private boys’ school. The school grooming the future leaders of the country. I sought counseling and was coached on what not to wear. In the end, I was the one whose parent, an FBI agent, never asked if I was okay, never acknowledged me or my pain in any way as he carried my stuff to the car for the last time. Neither of my parents ever said a word about it, ever.
I was the one who spent the next ten years of my life trying to run away from my own body, mind, and spirit. And the next twenty-eight knowing I was only living half my dream. I was alone, and I was 17 years old.
But that is not my point.
Right now as an American Citizen, I feel just as vacant and raw as I did after my assault. I feel ashamed, and I feel paralyzed by the fear that there is no hope and that nothing will ever be the same. I feel like other nations around the globe are staring at all of us, with pity and at the same time with judgment because, after all, it is our own fault. We elected to be in this position, with these people, with this leadership, with this barbarism.
Our nation is young and beautiful displaying the naivety and arrogance that youth permits. Our society is also prime for assault.
I am strong, and some would say an intimidating woman. I stand up for myself and for others. I speak out when something seems unjust, often to my own peril. I am also, kind and compassionate. I love deeply and forever. I am accomplished and well respected in my field.
But for the past few weeks, I find myself numb. I have had a tough time figuring out what’s up. I have been teary, and moody, and unable to focus. I have been unmoved by things I need to get done, unable to tend to the little hearts I am entrusted with the way they need me to. I have disconnected and have declared I don’t care. I have been distant and removed from my own life.
I have been assaulted. Once again. By the United States of America.
These weeks have removed the blinders of the 21st century. We, as women, are alone. Though we have more access to each other through social media, and we parade under banners like “Me Too.” When the spotlight shines, and the hard questions are asked, we stand completely alone. What rings true is Blasey-Ford’s statement, “I will never forget” and Grassley’s response “Let’s just be nice to her.”
The difference between my parents’ rug and the rug our nation is collectively holding up is merely the size. We still live in a “boys will be boys” society. If you are not part of the white elitist male minority, you are “other.” I carry my power to the polls with me every time I go, and I go every time, but I wonder if I am alone.
I have tried to have intellectual conversations with those that support the current leadership, but no one will engage with me face-to-face. The sputum it seems only exists in virtual reality. Sadly the same can be said for those of like mind. We are all afraid to stand up for our convictions.
It is like a terrible loop I can’t escape. My roommates and college sisters confronted my attacker. Each openly said they knew what he had done. He was not phased, he knew he did nothing wrong. I was in the bar, I succumbed to Rohypnol, I didn’t say no. My defenders were refused entry to his club, they were laughed at by older girls because they were naive freshmen. Eventually, they stopped talking to me because it was either that or be politely asked to leave school or chaste by their parents for having such a friend.
I see this moment as a pivotal point in our nation. I see it in the same light as my own case. It is the same situation. My story is just like millions of others around the globe.
This narrative, the one happening right now in our beautiful country, is our collective “Me Too” moment. The momentum has to be forward. We have been holding our jaws open since January 20, 2017. We have railed against the “Grab ’em by the Pussy” all over the internet and across the news waves. Yet somehow we have failed to muster enough fear in these men to even be acknowledged as a viable force to reckon with. They are not at all intimidated because they believe in the end. We will still ask permission. We will need the cosigner. We will keep quiet because we need the job. We will stifle our life dreams to accommodate another. Because we are women.
Don’t Give Up
I am the first to admit I am ready to give up, I am on the precious of grave despair. It would be so much easier to roll over and just be okay with the status quo. But that is what has gotten us into this mess. We as women have only taken it so far. We fought for the vote, but we allow our position to be influenced or prescribed by the men in our lives. We demanded equal rights, but we enable companies to interpret what that means by showing up every day, regardless. We stand together through the Me Too Movement, but we stay silent at the polls while little if anything changes.
I don’t know what to do, or how to do it, but I do believe we could be and should be, a reckoning force. I know without question that if every woman in this great country stood up and said no at the same time, the World would listen.
If we stopped caring if our husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers approved and just stood up as human beings and said no – stopped going to work, stopped multitasking ourselves to death – stopped driving – stopped shopping – just stopped, for a single day, the World would know the reckoning has begun.
How about November 6th, 2018. Take the day off from everything. Make sure you are Registered to Vote Vote your conscience not anyone else’s just yours. It might be a hard day, but it will be a valuable day. Others may suffer if you just don’t, but haven’t you suffered too. I know I have, and I know I am not alone.