Something has crystallized in recent days as I realize why Donald Trump has always been creepy to me: He is the embodiment of all the abuse I have endured at the hands of men.
Growing up, I was molested by a family member from the time I was 3 until I was 11. It was “our secret,” and I can still see my chubby little fingers closing around the quarter — the hush money.
He had power over my body because he wanted it and he knew I was too afraid to call him out. He also knew nobody would believe me.
I attended a church where “Christians” blamed women for all the world’s ills and the pastor was screwing a teenage girl. They did all they could to rob us of any power over ourselves and then took advantage of us. We were the daughters of Eve, and we were all guilty of her Original Sin, which, of course, was sex. It was always our fault because all of us were temptresses, and that reinforced the shame I felt over the abuse.
I grew up and was with a man who told me I was stupid and worthless and lucky to have him, a man who forced himself on me again and again because it was his “right.” I had no say in the matter.
It seemed as though everyone had a right to my body but me. I was left wondering if even random men could do what they wanted to me against my will.
Along comes “The Donald,” who gets whatever he wants by intimidating, by talking over people, by bullying. He’s been doing it for years, in case you haven’t noticed.
My early life made me a strong feminist. I learned to stand up for myself and to not be submissive or polite when the need arises. I will defend myself. My existence is not for the pleasure of any man.
Maybe it was the day my partner raised a fist to me and I picked up the 12-inch steel skillet with hot grease in it and told him if he hit me I would beat him senseless with my “equalizer.” He punched a hole in the wall. The emotional abuse didn’t stop, nor did the rape, but he never hit me. There was a line drawn now and he would not cross it.
It didn’t take me much longer to summon the courage to leave the relationship, and to learn I didn’t have to tolerate abuse in any form.
I make all the decisions about my body.
I still remember feeling so powerful the first time I stood up in a restaurant and loudly told a man he wasn’t going to have sex in exchange for dinner. I knew the restaurant owner, who offered to call a cab for me. I still get a little giddy over the memory because it was the moment I realized I didn’t have to feel guilty about saying no.
Then there was the time a man I turned down said, “Don’t you find me attractive?” and I said, “Frankly, no. Not at all.” And then I walked away, knowing I didn’t have to stroke his ego — or anything else.
Yes, he could have overpowered me, but it would have been a hell of a fight.
At the first debate, I could feel my anger rising every one of the 51 times Trump interrupted Clinton. I could see a qualified, competent woman being dismissed by a man who clearly thought he was superior because of his gender, all the while acting like my sons did when they were toddlers.
I could see clearly this is an abusive man and it triggered anxiety like I haven’t felt in years.
Still, when the tape was released Friday, I started feeling sick to my stomach. When Trump issued his non-apology it was clear he doesn’t think he has done anything wrong. It was just boys being boys.
In reality, it was just disrespectful, abusive, entitled, predatory boys being disrespectful, abusive, entitled, predatory boys, and nothing about that is ever OK.
And when I posted something to that effect on Facebook, men came onto my thread to mansplain why it wasn’t so bad — men who never have been scared to walk across a parking lot alone at night or to have a repairman come to the house while they were home alone. Men who never have had unwelcome hands running over their bodies by people who feel entitled to what’s under their clothes.
I blocked them, but I am left with a feeling of unease knowing they’re out there thinking “The Donald” hasn’t done anything all that bad.
Now, if you think women are better off now, that we aren’t shamed for being victims of sexual assault, then why are our names published when our cars or purses are stolen, but we can’t be identified if we are raped?
It’s because we’re still blamed for that crime. We lured him in with our attire or by accepting an invitation for a drink or for talking to them at a bar or a ballgame. We teased him by letting him kiss us goodnight, or by taking off our pantyhose to walk barefoot on the beach.
If you’re a man who’s chanting about “our wives, our daughters,” you have a sense of entitlement over these women. You enjoy male privilege and it’s time you understand it.
We are not yours. We are not delicate flowers. We are strong. We belong to ourselves and you need to respect that.