My husband and I have a beautiful ritual that we do every morning. We sit down with our tea and talk. We share our dreams and thoughts from the night before and discuss their deeper meanings. It’s a ritual I treasure. The last month or so, however, this ritual has been consumed with tears of me sharing nightmares, anxieties and memories from my past that are bubbling up like a poison. To say I’ve been emotionally disturbed by this election is an understatement. Donald Trump’s persona has triggered a response in me soo deep that it broke open the walls holding long repressed memories and feelings. Since last week I have been haunted by every sexual assault that I have experienced in my life, starting when I was twelve or thirteen. All of the assaults were from men who were older, had power, were stronger. Most were men I knew and saw daily; were trusted members of the community or of my family; were men I worked with or for; In every instance I felt dis-empowered and no one was ever brought to accountability for their actions (except for one). They were selfish, narcissist men who looked at me as an object in that moment to be leered at, talked dirty to, grabbed, kissed or worse. I look at my younger self now and my heart weeps for that girl. That girl who was afraid, didn’t understand and who was so confused and didn’t feel safe enough to tell anyone what happened.
That girl grew up to expect this behavior as a normal thing from men, especially when they were drinking; she was always on guard and preparing her exit strategy to escape or flee. But I also feel anger! I feel anger at myself for not kicking, scratching, screaming, slapping or reacting in a way that I want to now. I feel anger at those around that little girl who didn’t protect her, who I know had ideas of what was happening and did nothing. And ultimately I feel anger at the disgusting individuals who thought so little of this young girl/woman to think it was okay to do what they did! Who laughed or shrugged it off and who made me feel like I should do the same.
Shame on us!
Shame on our culture!
Shame on our society!
Shame on everyone who stands by and acts as if this is no big deal and minimizes Trump and his “talk”!
Do you think a man like that just talks?
As repulsed as I am about Donald Trump and all the other men out there like him, and there are a lot, I am also filled with joy and liberation to see and hear all the women who, like me, are triggered and breaking free of their silence and standing up to say “Hell No!”. I just watched Michelle Obama’s New Hampshire speech and my heart sung Amen! Our first lady said it so eloquently and represented women in a way that no political figure ever has.
I encourage all women out there who have experienced any sexual assault to stand up and say “No more!”.
No more complacency. No more excuses for these idiots.
We won’t put up with it anymore!
We won’t tolerate it anymore!
We deserve respect!
We deserve to feel safe!
It’s time for us to recognize these people for who they are and it’s time for us to hold them accountable for their behaviors!
This country is better than the world that Trump and people like him live in!
And men, it applies to you too. You can stand up and say “Hell No!” too. After all, this is your mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend or wife that has to deal with this every day! Don’t be that silent man on the sidelines. Be assured that we remember who was there and we remember who didn't do anything and we definitely remember those who did!
Some points from her speech that I found most poignant and inspiring:
“And I have to tell you that I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted. So while I'd love nothing more than to pretend like this isn't happening, and to come out here and do my normal campaign speech, it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream.
This is not something that we can ignore. It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a "lewd conversation". This wasn't just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.
And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life. And I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally, and I'm sure that many of you do too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.
It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen - something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.
We thought all of that was ancient history, didn't we? And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are, in 2016, and we're hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done: We're trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn't really bother us maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak.
Maybe we're afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we've grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we've seen that people often won't take our word over his. Or maybe we don't want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day's headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just politics as usual.
But, New Hampshire, be clear. This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to - Democrat, Republican, independent - no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.
And I know it's a campaign, but this isn't about politics. It's about basic human decency. It's about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer - not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.
Because consider this. If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations?
And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.
The men that you and I know don't treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don't tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.”