Whose fault is this, anyway?

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

My late son came to me in a dream last night. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, he usually has something profound to say.

I have been so discouraged since the election, which to me is the death of tolerance and inclusion in America. Yesterday, after seeing footage of followers of the man who would be president doing a Nazi salute, I was thinking that I don’t even want to live to see what happens.

Really. I’m 64 and I’ve lived most of my life in an America that was working to make itself better. Women managed to claim sovereignty over our own bodies. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the rights of interracial and LGBTQ couples to marry, all happened within my lifetime.

And now this: a common criminal, a con man, misogynist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic narcissist is elected to the highest office in the land.

I have been furious at people who voted for him, even though I love some of them as friends and family members.

But Mike had something profound to say again: “You can’t blame sheep for being led to the slaughter.”

People have been fooled by this con man, and his accomplices at Fox News, CNN and all the other corporate “news” outlets that gave him free time, that promoted his candidacy as entertainment and that refused to investigate his shortcomings and crimes.

To make things worse, the corporate media played Hillary Clinton as a villain — a nasty woman. News of her private e-mail server (the same one used by her Republican predecessors at the State Department) was all over the news, as were the charges that she had something to do with the four American deaths in Benghazi. For 30 years, she was portrayed as a shrill, conniving bitch, and the American public bought that, even though she has been a dedicated public servant.

As for whether Bernie Sanders would have won — and he was my preferred candidate — do you think these people making Nazi salutes would have let a Jew into the White House? Really?

The corporate media have led the American public to the slaughter. They have shrugged off their responsibility to investigate and inform, and instead have gone for lies and profit.

They have peddled the false equivalency of “both sides do it,” until people believed it was equal, and they continue to do it as they claim I have no right to be angry because the other side hated Obama.

Obama isn’t a criminal. He didn’t have to settle a fraud lawsuit before taking office. He was never accused of rape. He never cheated on his wife — his only wife, by the way.

Mike was right about that, but as he said he had to leave, I told him once again that I didn’t want to be here, especially without him, and he answered the same way he has before:

“That’s not an option, Mom. You have work to do.”

I have work to do.

I told a Muslim friend this morning I will go with her to the grocery store or anywhere else she is afraid to go alone. She was born in Pakistan and still wears traditional clothing — a sari and hijab. But she is an American citizen. This is her homeland now, but she is afraid to be here.

A Jewish friend says the raised arms of white supporters of this man at a political rally remind him of the tattoo on his mother’s forearm. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. He said it also reminded him of the hatred in his schoolmates’ eyes when they beat him up because he was a Jew — and he went to school in a middle-class, suburban town.

Another Jewish friend was followed by a pickup truck, plastered with bumper stickers for this man and sporting two Confederate flags, as she left her synagogue with her 7-year-old grandson. The truck pulled up beside her and the two white men inside started screaming anti-Semitic insults at her.

I have felt compelled, as a survivor of sexual violence, to help other survivors cope with this sexual predator by starting a support group called #IBelieveTheWomen, as this man promises to sue and ruin all the women coming forward to tell of his unwanted sexual advances toward them.

I will not accept that this country really wants to be led by this criminal. I will not be sweet and give him a chance to govern when I know what he is and what he wants to do.

But I will stop blaming the voters when the culprit is the slaughterhouse personnel at Fox News, Breitbart and other peddlers of right-wing bullshit.

I will blame The New York Times and other so-called mainstream media for giving this man a pass until it was too late to turn the ship around. I will blame corporate newspaper companies for laying off reporters and editors at a time when our country most needed real information.

This will not end well. The right controls all three branches of our federal government now. These people will not give up the power they have attained, and some of us will die fighting them.

Just look at what’s happening in North Carolina. Our governor has lost a close race, and the state Supreme Court has gone to a Democratic majority. The governor has refused to concede and the GOP legislature is hinting it might add two justices to the court to give the Republicans the majority again. And there’s talk of throwing the gubernatorial race to the legislature, which would appoint the Republican governor to another term.

Now legislators are denying they will have a special session to increase the size of the court and stack it, but they have called special sessions before to push through unpopular and ill-considered legislation.

Those of us who still have critical thinking skills need to use them now. Our very existence as a nation depends on it.

Leaving now is not an option. We have work to do.

 

 

 

Sen. Sessions needs some schooling on assault

A clueless Jeff Sessions thinks it's not sexual assault to grab a woman by the genitals. I have news for him.

A clueless Jeff Sessions thinks it’s not sexual assault to grab a woman by the genitals. I have news for him.

In nearly every instance, I’m committed to nonviolence, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about what I would like to see happen to a man who thinks grabbing a woman’s genitals isn’t sexual assault.

I would like to see someone grab him by the genitals and twist until they come off.

I would like to see him attacked as he walks to his car at night and then told it was his fault because his tie was too sexy or he shouldn’t have been alone in the parking garage at night or he looked suggestively at his attacker during Congressional testimony that afternoon. And then I would like to tell him myself that he should just get over it.

I would like to see him sent to a re-education camp staffed entirely by women who have survived sexual violence.

Would I actually do these things? No. But I can dream.

I am a survivor, and I am so deeply offended by the potential appointment of this miscreant to the office of Attorney General of the United States that all I can do is think about what I would like to see happen to him.

For me, the sexual violence began when I was just 3.

That’s right, I was still a toddler.

I have never known a time when my body was my own to do with as I pleased. I didn’t know what it was to say no to sexual advances, even as a little girl. My body belonged to my assailant until I was 11 and I finally found the courage to say no.

I later was raped as an adult, and I believe part of the reason was that I still wasn’t convinced my body really belonged to me. I have since decided it does, and that I will defend it.

So, I have some expertise in this area, and I have a few words for Mr. Sessions:

Until you have been objectified and grabbed because some man thinks he has a right to your body, you don’t have any idea what sexual assault does to a woman.

And, yes, grabbing a woman by the “pussy” is assault.

In nonviolence training, we’re taught that even touching someone can be classed as assault, so if I can be charged with assault for putting my hand on your shoulder, you certainly are guilty if you grab my lady parts — any of my lady parts.

You are not superior to me, nor do you have any rights over my body. You may think you do, but I’m telling you the only time I am even tempted to do violence to another human being is when a man thinks he has dominion over my body.

This means I will believe any woman who tells me she has been assaulted because even though there are cases of women lying, those cases are rare.

My body is mine and mine alone and neither you or any other man will tell me what I can or can not do with it. You will not touch me without my express permission. You will not tell me I can’t have birth control. You will not tell me I can’t choose to terminate a pregnancy.

These are my choices.

Women’s bodies are not pleasure palaces for your penis, Mr. Sessions. My “pussy” is mine, not yours or any other man’s. I will decide who can touch me and who can not. I will decide what happens with my body because I claim dominion over it.

We are not going back to the days when you could claim us as chattel. We are going to determine our own destinies.

We will decide when and if we want you to touch us in any way.

We will decide whether we want to bear children, and when.

We will have control over our lives and we will shun despicable characters such as you, Mr. Sessions.

 

 

 

This person is not — and never will be — my president

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

This has been really hard for me. I have friends and family members who voted for this person. They begged me to give him a chance because they hated Obama as much as I hate this person.

I’m sorry, but Obama doesn’t trigger crippling anxiety in you because he is a sexual predator and you are a survivor.

Obama never threatened to take away your right to control your own body.

Obama is a Constitutional scholar; this man likely has never read the Constitution.

Obama symbolized an acceptance of diversity. He is well read and intelligent. Even when attacked mercilessly and blocked at every turn, he never lashed out. This person is awake at 3 in the morning lashing out on Twitter because of a verbal insult issued years ago.

He is a dangerous man on every level, mentally ill and willfully ignorant. He is hate-filled and his entire campaign was fueled by hate — by racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia — and I don’t expect the next four years to be anything different.

You can say you’re not racist, but if you voted for this man, you voted for the candidate endorsed by the KKK. You may not be consciously racist. You may have people of color in your family and love them more than you love yourself, but you just slapped them in the face if you voted for this man, even if it was an unintentional slap.

The first thing he did was to choose a stalwart of the “alt-right” as his closest advisor. The alt-right is nothing more than a polite name for neo-Nazi. Look it up. They stand for hatred of people of color, of anyone not white, male and Christian. Many of them have had their Twitter accounts canceled for tweeting hate.

“Give him a chance,” people said. “He might not be so bad.”

I don’t have to give him any more chance than I would give the man who molested me as a child or the man who abused me as an adult. His behavior makes it abundantly clear who he is and what he will do.

Already, there’s talk of a Muslim registry. Know that I will register as a Muslim on Day One, as will millions of others who hope to protect our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Already, he has appointed people who want to strip me of my rights to control my own body.

Already, Paul Ryan is talking about stripping senior citizens of their Medicaid and Social Security, and gutting Medicaid, which is the only access poor people have to care.

Already, there is talk about getting rid of minimum wage, which is too little to live on as it is.

Already, there is talk about deporting millions of people who are working hard and trying to do better for their families.

Already, there is talk of annulling the marriages of my LGBTQ friends and neighbors.

Already, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes. A friend of mine was threatened as she was leaving synagogue with her grandson. The threats came from white men in a truck plastered with stickers supporting this man and sporting two large Confederate flags.

Gay friends have had people tell them their marriages — and the more than 1,000 rights and privileges that go with them — will end as soon as this man takes office and begins stacking the Supreme Court.

You might have noticed that I have not uttered this man’s name. I will not give him that much respect. He is not my president. When President Obama leaves office, I will have no president.

I am prepared to fight for my rights and for the rights of everyone this man considers “other.” I will not be a dutiful American as millions of Germans were in the 1930s. I will be a dutiful human being and fight against hate.

And if you want to spew hate against me or anyone else on my Facebook thread or in comments here, I will block you. I will not tolerate hate in any form, from any person. I am fine with disagreement, but I will block hate every single time.

Stand against hate, fight against tyranny

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent.

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent. Let us take to the streets in PEACEFUL protest.

This week, the daughter of an African-American woman told her mother that she, her Latino husband and their children would be moving out of the country following Tuesday’s election of a man who has promised to show nothing but contempt for them.

Another woman’s biracial grandson was called the N-word on the school bus.

A lesbian friend was called a reprehensible name and told her marriage would be annulled.

A Muslim friend is afraid to go grocery shopping.

These examples are just among my friends.

In our schools, Latino children are being taunted with threats of deportation and gay and trans children are being harassed.

This is the new America.

On Facebook, a high school friend complained that Democrats are bad sports because a white man reportedly was beaten up by black men because he voted for the man whose name I refuse to utter.

I reminded that friend of the verified news reports of gays, Muslims and people of color being beaten up as their assailants named this man who might move into the White House.

The hatred is palpable.

I will not hate. I will not commit violence in any form. It is against everything I believe, everything I stand for.

That does not mean I won’t fight.

Last night, I listened to Rev. William Barber on a conference call with hundreds of other people, as he told us he believes we do not have to be gracious about the political victory of a man who has promised to be cruel to immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people and more.

We do not have to offer congratulations to a man who has shown no compassion, no honor and no regrets for the violence of his followers.

This morning, I spoke with my friend, Rev. Rodney Sadler, who echoed Rev. Barber’s sentiments.  Rev. Sadler and I talked about the protests we plan to organize and/or attend, and about our fears for the safety of people we love.

Sitting at home is the same as doing nothing. Silence in the face of tyranny makes one complicit. As this man tries to implement his hate-driven policies, we who enjoy privilege must stand against all of it.

I will stand with my brothers and sisters whose lives and bodies are under threat. You will have to go through me to get to them. I will do everything in my power to protect them, except violence. I will not stoop to that.

I am a follower of Christ, who instructed us to love our enemies, to care for “the least of these” among us. I will feed the hungry and love the marginalized. I will defend the defenseless and give voice to the voiceless.

To me, loving my enemy does not mean being gracious toward someone who would let children go to bed hungry, who would deport millions, who would strip women and LGBTQ people of their legal rights, who tweets vile insults to people who disagree with him.

Loving my enemy means not harming them in any physical way and believing that they are deserving of redemption if they seek it.

Loving this person him does NOT mean any form of approval for his policies or beliefs.

I will stand against this person as I stand for peace and justice for everyone. I will not sit down.

I will take to the streets with my brothers and sisters. I will do no violence. This is my promise.

 

Can love win? I hope so

Middle Passage and "Granny" Ruth Zalph walking along Highway 401 in North Carolina during the NAACP's Journey for Justice last year. We are called to stand up for justice, we are called to love one another, now more than ever.

Middle Passage and “Granny” Ruth Zalph walking along Highway 401 in North Carolina during the NAACP’s Journey for Justice last year. We are called to stand up for justice, we are called to love one another, now more than ever.

The sun came up again this morning.

Yeah, somewhere deep down I knew it would, but I was still just a little surprised.

My husband spoke to our financial advisor, who said we’re OK for now. I’m not sure I believe him, but his voice was soothing and calm.

So, now begins the fight on a national level. I will keep the news turned off, since I blame the corporate media for this mess we are in. They jumped all over Hillary’s e-mails while allowing Trump a pass on all his criminal activities.

The upshot is, what has happened here in North Carolina in the last four years is about to happen nationally.

I will lose my access to health care for at least the next year (in 11 months and six days I can get Medicare — if it still exists), as insurance companies take advantage of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and once again refuse to sell policies to anyone who might get sick.

My LGBTQ friends will lose their rights to be married to the people they love.

My African-American and LatinX friends will lose access to the ballot box in larger numbers than we have seen in a half century.

Multi-national corporations will pull out in protest and people will lose their jobs.

At least 20 million people will lose their access to health care. Thousands will die.

We’re likely to get into some real and nasty wars. Tens of thousands will die.

Climate change will continue its inexorable march, and perhaps millions will die.

This is what I can see from where I sit, in a state where much of this is happening already.

But we here in North Carolina have developed a coalition of groups and individuals who are answering this hate with love. We have been using nonviolent protest to send our message, to change hearts.

We haven’t won the war, but we have banded together and we have the love and support we need to continue this fight and take its model across the country.

Hate won the election, I will not let it conquer me. I will stand with my brothers and sisters against injustice, against hate.

I am a follower of Jesus, who taught me that I need to love my enemies, as difficult as that is this morning. Gandhi and Martin Luther King followed in the steps of Jesus — not the Jesus of the modern American evangelicals, but the one who spoke the word of justice and love, the one who embraces the poor and marginalized, the one who went to his death for what he knew was right.

Not all of us will survive this fight, but we must engage in it if we are to survive as a society.

We are entering a dark age. Let us be the light.

 

 

Farewell to the great American experiment

download

It appears we have elected a fascist, misogynist, racist, narcissistic, thieving, lying, treasonous sexual predator as president, and we have handed the Senate and House to his accomplices.

Those who have been seeking to take down America’s democracy have won.

In the coming months, look for the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, followed by Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. Our universities and our public education system are also in danger. Marriage equality will be abolished.

Look for the jailing of people who disagree with the new order. It will happen.

World markets are crashing, so there go the savings of people hoping for a secure retirement.

If you think I am overstating the danger here, think again. Think about the things Trump promised if he won, and the things Republicans have been promising to do for years.

Look at Germany in the 1930s if you want to see where we are headed. Trump has promised to persecute Muslims and immigrants. He wants to get back at everyone who he thinks has insulted him and he will use the presidency to do just that. We have no way to stop him now.

I don’t know what to do at this point except to look at moving to Canada.

I am terrified.

All the work we have done here in North Carolina to try and bring reason back to government has been for nothing.

All the work we did to elect a woman president has been for nothing.

All the progress we made in women’s rights, civil rights, social justice, economic justice — all for nothing.

We have lost everything.

We have allowed hate and racism and misogyny to win.

There is no logic in this.

Goodbye, America. You were great once.

RIP Democracy.

 

 

 

It’s time to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

The ;logo for the documentary film. "Equal Means Equal."

The logo for the documentary film. “Equal Means Equal.”

 

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

–The Equal Rights Amendment

Did you know that women have no protections guaranteed to them by the US Constitution?

It’s true.

In fact, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia explained it very simply:

Interviewer: In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Justice Scalia: Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box.

That means discrimination based on race is held to a different, higher standard than discrimination against women. In a case involving sex discrimination, a woman has to prove not just harm, but also deliberate intent.

In our society, women are not valued as highly as men. We are paid less for the same work, promoted less often, even when we are as competent — or even more so — as any man we compete with.

We are prosecuted unequally — women who kill their abusive intimate partners are far, far more likely to be sentenced to life in prison than abusive partners are when they kill the women in their lives.

Studies show that orders of protection against intimate partners are either ignored by many local law enforcement agencies, or complaints of violations are responded to more slowly than are other calls. So, if you are a woman whose ex-boyfriend is banging down your door, call 9-1-1 and tell them someone is using drugs in your front yard. You’ll get a better response in many cases.

In cases of rape, the successful conviction rate is just 2 percent. Do you really believe 98 percent of women are lying? I don’t. But crimes against women are held to a higher standard of proof.

Instead of seeing the criminal as being at fault, women are grilled about what they were wearing, where they were walking, why they went on a date with someone who they didn’t know would rape them …

I have been very open in recent weeks about the abuse that has happened to me. But last night, following a screening of the new film, “Equal Means Equal,” I stood and asked the 75 or so people in attendance how many of them had been molested, raped, sexually assaulted or abused by an intimate partner. Almost every woman there raised her hand.

Think about that for a moment. In a room full of women gathered to see a documentary about the Equal Rights Amendment, almost every one of them has suffered a form of physical abuse at the hands of a man (or men).

And I didn’t ask about harassment at work, unequal pay, lack of access to reproductive health services or other forms of discrimination against women.

I didn’t ask about women who want to breast feed their babies being told they’re somehow dirty and should take the baby into a bathroom stall. I responded to that once by inviting the person making the suggestion to bring her lunch in and eat it while sitting on the toilet. She thought that sounded absurd, and she was right. It is.

I didn’t ask about women who can’t afford to take unpaid family leave when their children are born, or about how they manage to afford the average $1,700 a month in child care costs.

More women live in poverty than men. More women are single head of household than men.

Women are not equal to men in this society, and it’s time we stood up and demanded that equality be put into the Constitution.

Only three more states are needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. We almost got it done in the 1970s, but we fell short because of arguments against men and women being “forced” to use the same bathrooms.

In 1974, when my then-husband railed against the ERA and used the bathroom argument, I reminded him that we were living in a one-bathroom apartment and that didn’t seem to bother him. He retorted, “That’s different!”

Right now, it looks like our best chances for ratification are in North Carolina, Illinois and Virginia. If you live one one of these states, you need to start talking to legislators about getting it done.

Giving women equal rights as human beings is not some left-wing, radical, militant feminist idea; it is something we should have done long, long ago.

Let’s get it done.

To learn more about the documentary, “Equal Means Equal,” visit www.equalmeansequal.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about why women don’t come forward

rape-culture

Again and again over the last few days, I have watched as both men and women, Republican and Democrat, have questioned the veracity of the women who are stepping forward to say they have been assaulted by Donald Trump.

Of course, his reaction is to threaten to sue everybody and everything in sight to protect his reputation.

Well, here’s the thing. He is on tape bragging about assaulting women. It was not locker room talk because they weren’t in a locker room still hyped up by athletic competition. They were on a bus.

He thought it was fine to offer his permission to a radio shock jock to refer to his daughter as “a piece of ass.” In fact, he has said repeatedly that he would “date” her if she weren’t his daughter.

That’s the kind of respect he offers his own daughter. Do you really think he has any respect at all for other women?

Contestants in his beauty pageant have said he walked into their dressing rooms while they were naked. He has unwittingly backed up their complaints by bragging about doing it.

He is a very powerful and wealthy man, and he can ruin any woman who crosses him. He is also vindictive enough to do it. I certainly would be afraid to come out and talk about being assaulted by such a man.

Remember Anita Hill? She had no reason to come out and have her career ruined by testifying against a man who sexually harassed her. And when she did, she was destroyed.

I believed her then and I still believe her.

It starts when we’re little girls, being told we have to give people hugs and kisses as though our bodies don’t belong to us.

And when men do things to us, we know nobody is going to believe it.

I was 3 when my grandfather started molesting me. It continued until I was 11. I told no one because I knew nobody would believe me. My grandfather was a school custodian and crossing guard and a church sexton. Everybody loved him. There was no way anybody was going to believe me.

So I accepted the quarters, the hush money, as it were.

In fact, I didn’t say a word until I was in my early 30s and my sister asked me about it.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“He tried it with me and I told him to stop,” she said. “So he told me you let him. I never did.”

She didn’t tell anyone, either because she knew she wouldn’t be believed and that I probably would get in trouble.

That reluctance to speak out doesn’t go away as we grow up.

Think about this: The conviction rate for rape is 6 percent. Do you really think 94 percent of men accused of rape are innocent? I don’t.

Women are blamed for sexual assault all the time.

She shouldn’t have gone out for a drink with him after work.

She shouldn’t have stayed late at work to finish up a project.

She shouldn’t have gone to a nightclub alone.

She shouldn’t have walked out on the street alone, worn that dress, those shoes.

She shouldn’t have laughed at his jokes.

She shouldn’t have let him kiss her goodnight or allowed him to walk inside her house, or gone to his place, or allowed him to give her a ride home.

In the conservative Christian tradition, women are all guilty of Original Sin, which is, as we all know, sex. We are temptresses, every last one of us. That’s why we can’t have leadership roles. We can’t be trusted not to tempt men.

When a pastor in my childhood church had an affair with a teenage girl, it was kept very quiet and he resigned.

Was he charged with a crime? No. He was allowed to go on his way and the teenage girl was told to keep it quiet.

Catholic priests aren’t the only ones who violate children.

When a girl grows up knowing that any sexual assault is her fault and that she’ll be the one blamed if she says anything — and then that’s exactly what happens — she learns to keep her mouth shut.

These 10 women who have come forward with allegations about Trump assaulting them are telling the truth. I would bet my life on it.

Trump can bluster and steam all he wants. I know better, and so should you.

When you question their stories, you question mine. When you blame them, you blame me.

I will not sit still and allow that to happen any longer.

Trump’s words were not just idle chatter

I believe the women.

I believe the women.

As an increasing number of women come out and say Donald Trump assaulted them, some of his supporters still snort and say he’s innocent of such things.

But let me tell you, I believe the women. The former writer for People Magazine painted a picture so real I felt like I was watching a video clip.

I have been a woman in the workplace and I know what unwelcome advances are like.

There was the supervisor who turned down the heat in the office so he could see women’s erect nipples. When one of us overheard him bragging about it, we all started wearing loose sweatshirts at our desks.

Then there was Bob, a man at a small newspaper who pursued me every damn day for weeks, even taking to calling me at home with lewd suggestions. When I reported him to the publisher, the man said, “Oh, that’s just Bob.”

So, I went back to my desk, and within a few minutes, Bob was there, suggesting we take a couple hours away from the office.

I asked for his home phone number, and, leering, he gave it to me. I stood up.

“Attention, everyone,” I said. “I need witnesses to this.”

I turned to Bob.

“If you ever utter another word to me that isn’t work-related, I will call your wife. I will tell her what hell you have put me through here at work, and I’ll bet I can find other women to back me up.”

Bob skulked away and behaved himself after that, but I found another job as quickly as I could because I didn’t want to be in the same town as Bob anymore.

Another time, while I was on a sales call, a man cornered me and started groping and trying to kiss me. I managed to get away and he made some remark about how he understood why I was divorced because I was a “frigid bitch.”

My boss found out about it and went to visit the offender, offering to take a baseball bat to the creep if he ever made a move on a person in his employ again. I didn’t need my boss to do that, but it was nice to know a man in a position of authority had respect for me.

There was the company president who didn’t hire me because he didn’t like having women work for him because of their “monthly unreliability.”

I was fired once because the boss thought my shoes were “slutty.”

I have been paid less than men doing the same work because of my gender.

I have been called Baby and Honey and Sweetie.

I have been talked over and interrupted as though my professional opinion meant nothing.

I have been groped and pinched.

I have been molested.

I have been raped.

Women don’t make this shit up, and when a man admits he can kiss a woman without permission, that he can grab her genitalia, simply because he wants to and he can get away with it because he’s rich and/or famous, that doesn’t come from thin air.

Yes, men talk smack and exaggerate, but when women start coming forward with stories as detailed as these women, when first one, then another, and then another come forward with credible, creepy stories, I tend to believe them.

Don’t start talking to me about Bill Clinton or Bill Cosby as though I somehow defended their behavior because I never have. I have only said that Clinton’s Oval Office blow job was consensual, which it was.

If Trump were running for dogcatcher, perhaps his utter disrespect for women wouldn’t make a difference, although he still wouldn’t get my vote.

But he is running for President of the United States, and he actually has millions of supporters — or at least millions who think he’s somehow a better choice than his opponent.

This is just another example of the rape culture that is so pervasive in American society now. We believe men who make comments like this and then say they were “only kidding,” but we either refuse to believe women who say they have been assaulted or we blame them.

We tell them they were wearing the wrong thing or we were in the wrong place (alone with a male colleague in his office, for example). We shouldn’t have accepted that invitation to talk about an ad campaign over dinner or to work on a project after hours so we could make a deadline.

Or in the case of the People reporter, we interview a man for a story. As a former reporter, I can attest to the fear we sometimes feel when we land alone with someone we think might be a predator. I made it a practice to do interviews in a public place or with people nearby who could hear me if I screamed. I never let story subjects buy me a meal.

Still, there were plenty of men who made suggestive remarks (although there were fewer as I got older) when they thought no one could hear.

So, why don’t we say something then and there?

Because he’s more powerful than we are and he could ruin us, and to defend himself, he probably will. Because we know we’ll catch the blame for the incident in the end.

If you want to support Trump, that’s your choice. If you believe he’s innocent of all charges, fine. Believe what you want. It’s your vote.

However, if you come onto one of my posts on social media and start telling me I have no right to be creeped out by this monster, I will block you.

If you troll on another woman’s post in the same manner, I will block you. Because if you have so little respect for women that you can’t understand why we find him abhorrent in what he says and does, I have nothing in common with you.

My experience with men like Trump is real and I will not allow anyone to invalidate it.

 

 

 

I’m going to survivor-splain this to you: Trump is a vile man

Last night, Trump stalked and glowered, obviously hoping to intimidate Clinton as she spoke. She kept her cool.

Last night, Trump stalked and glowered, obviously hoping to intimidate Clinton as she spoke. She kept her cool.

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.

 

 

 

a world of progress site | woven by WEBterranean