I have been blogging this inside my head for close to a year now, but of course the “lovely” events of the past week have it front and center in my mind. And because I am trying to suck less at actually getting around to blogging, here I am.

I feel like we all have a #metoo story, whether large or small. We live in a culture that seems to view the degradation of women as almost inevitable.

(You should stop reading my blog now and go read this instead…the repeated refrain, “That’s what girls are for” is haunting and beautiful.)

When I was maybe in fourth grade, and my friend/neighbor probably in third grade, we went up to the local supermarket on an errand of some kind. Whether it was for the errand or if we were wandering, I’m not sure, but we found ourselves in the medicine aisle. The local creeper (I can’t remember if I knew him before this incident) asked us to help him look for some Chloraseptic throat spray. As we helped him search, bending down to search (“no, not the mint – I’m looking for the cherry flavor – is it on the bottom shelf?”), he touched each of us on the butt. Brief, barely perceptible, but it happened. After he left, we consulted each other in hushed tones. Yes, he had done it to both of us. We were utterly creeped out by the experience.

And here’s the crazy part.

Somehow, between the two of us, we decided that we couldn’t tell our parents…because we were convinced we would get into trouble. I can’t remember now whether we said this to each other, or whether we just had an unspoken pact not to speak of it.

How did we know, or why did we believe, that what had happened was unspeakable? Why did we blame ourselves? Why were we unable to speak of this offense against us, to call out the wrongness of it?

Although it can hardly be called “assault”, it was nonetheless a traumatizing experience. And I chose this, one of my “tame” #metoo stories, to point out how hard it is to tell. How hard it is to not blame ourselves for what was done to us.

The silence continued into adulthood. I dealt with it when my manager at one of the shoe stores I worked at would stand there touching and rubbing himself when we were alone in the store. He would put one leg up on the chair and just smile and say nothing while he touched himself. Or maybe he was talking to me at the time…about business, about the weather…who knows. I just remember how hard I had to work at not looking, how uncomfortable and skeeved I felt every time I had to work alone with him.

Who could I tell? I was just a girl. (And in the extremely sexist environment I was in, “just a girl” was no exaggeration. When we were robbed at gunpoint at another store, the home office’s first question was, “Is the girl okay?” Yes. Yes, she was.)

That job was toxic for a number of other reasons, but the fact remains that I didn’t tell anybody about my manager’s disgusting behavior. Why would I? Who would believe me, or do something about it? And oh well, it’s just something we women have to deal with.

Who taught me that it wasn’t okay? Did I blame myself? Did I fear for my job? I can’t remember my thought process at the time, but like the supermarket incident of my childhood, I knew I had to just put up with it.

When I see rich and powerful men being held accountable now, when I see women who are being listened to, and taken seriously, I am grateful. But I can’t imagine that it will last. Why should it? This has been going on for years, probably centuries. How long will it last, women’s stories being heard, and actually believed?

I don’t think it will stick. I think the Kavanaugh hearings are evidence that the pendulum will swing back the other way, and sooner rather than later. Maybe I’m wrong…maybe we will finally put a dent in the impervious wall of denial and shame, and maybe sometime in our children’s lifetime, if not our own, women will be believed and supported.

Until that day, we will continue to have shitty weeks like this one has been, and we will continue together in this PTSD fog, still afraid to speak out, still hearing and seeing and knowing that we will not be believed. But we need each other. We need to speak our truths, and hear and believe others as they speak their own truths.

We are brave, and we are strong, and we have a right to be heard. Please, let’s keep reminding each other of that. And maybe someday, women truly will be heard and believed.





as usual, someone else says it better . . .

I’ve been listening to a lot more NPR these days (my favorite commie co-worker’s influence, mostly; I used to be a good little girl and listened to the Christian station all day . . . hmmm.), and I have been annoyed at/disturbed by the assertion of so many Hillary supporters that they were going to vote for McCain rather than Obama . . .

these same people have been all over NPR insisting that Obama MUST choose a woman as his running mate (perhaps not necessarily Hillary–at least some have conceded that THAT may not be such a good idea. hello, folks–we’re trying to WIN the election here?!) But there goes my cynical self . . . and maybe I’m channeling Field here . . . but I am CERTAIN that there is no way that people in this country will EVER vote for a black man AND a woman.

(someone said to me a few weeks ago that talking about what could happen to him is somehow more likely to make it come to pass–so I’ve stopped even speaking the worst-case-scenario and now I just pray for the man. yes, I pray for Barack HUSSEIN Obama . . . and all of the Christians who have not missed a single opportunity to remind me during Bush’s reign that the Bible tells us to pray for people in authority over us had BEST remember to do the same for our next president!!! but I digress . . . )

anyway, my point is that I am certainly eager to see women reach places of power and authority in our political system . . . but I am also quite sure that, this time around, what the man needs is a white male as his VP . . . just so that those who are so committed to our deeply entrenched power structure can breathe a little bit easier, and feel good about themselves in the process. (“we’re so progressive! we voted for a black man!”) I want us to WIN in November. I really do NOT want to move to Canadia.

At any rate, the rallying cry (is it self-hating/misogynistic of me to label it a “whine”?) of these women has not at all set well with me . . . so when I came across this gem from Tim Wise, I had a definite “a ha!” moment . . .

yeah. That’s what this is REALLY about.

(and thanks again to Field; when I say I “came across” this Tim Wise piece, it was actually on Field’s blog . . . which you should be reading daily anyway!)