I was the victim, not the perpetrator.

 

I was 3 here. My older sister was 6.

 

I was 3 the first time I was violated.

I don’t remember a time when my body was mine. From that first violation until I was almost 12 and I finally told him to stop, my abuser owned my body.

I remember the hush money. I can still see my chubby little fingers closing around the quarter — which was a lot of money to a little girl in the late 1950s.

I didn’t really need the money to keep me quiet because I knew I was the one at fault. I must have had one hell of a precocious come-hither look. Or maybe it was the way the lace on my ankle socks rested on my patent leather dress shoes.

In the theology I was carefully taught at church, any abuse was my fault because I was a daughter of Eve and therefore just as guilty as she of original sin, which was, of course, seduction.

Sex wasn’t discussed. Bodies weren’t discussed. Our vaginas were referred to as “down there.” Questions about anything to do with sex were answered with, “You’re too young to know that.”

All the while, I knew that; I also knew it was dirty and never to be mentioned because good girls didn’t talk about anything that went on with “down there.”

So, in this atmosphere of secrecy, my grandfather got away with molesting me for eight years.

As an adult, I was raped repeatedly by someone who was supposed to love me. He loved me so much he insisted we have sex when he felt like it, no matter how I felt.

I was never alone if he thought I would be naked. He followed me into the shower to grope me. Even when I changed my clothes, there he was, groping and sometimes insisting I satisfy him because it was my “duty.”

Since I had said yes, even once, that was license for him to take what he wanted whenever he wanted it. At the time, his actions were perfectly legal.

I know I am not alone in either of these experiences.

At work, I was told I was less than a man. I made less, even though I often did the job a lot better than men in similar positions.

If a colleague groped at me or made passes at me, it was my fault, or it was, “That’s our Bob! Heh, heh.”

At every turn I was made to feel less than men.

Sometimes, there was a boss who was on my side. When I sold ads for the weekly paper, the Rockland Review, and a client cornered me in a back room, I was able to escape because I knew not to let a man get between me and the door. I was a mess when I got back to the office. The boss heard me out, then he went to the business owner and told him if he ever touched me — or any other employee of the paper — the boss would educate him about proper behavior with a baseball bat. The man tried to say I had been flirting with him, but my boss wasn’t having any of that.

“Why would she flirt with you?” the boss asked. “You’re a creep.”

That’s another thing — the number of men who think they’re irresistible, or who want to make a woman feel guilty for rejecting them.

There was the military recruiter, Navy, I think, who made a pass at me while I was there to interview him for a story. Within moments of my arrival, he was suggesting we continue the conversation at his apartment.

I said no.

“What, don’t you find me attractive?” he asked.

“Frankly, no,” I said. “I find you offensive and I’m sure your superior officer will find your remarks as inappropriate as I do.”

That shut him up.

But standing up to men who think they’re entitled to sexual gratification because you have a vagina doesn’t always work. Some men think they can take what they want.

They might insult you: “Well, I don’t know why you’re saying no to me. It’s not like you’re beautiful. You should jump at the chance.” Yes, a man actually said this to me.

Or they might try to just take what they want because, well, they’re bigger and stronger and you have a vagina, which is the perfect place for him to park his penis.

That’s why I know to carry my keys pointing out of my fist so I can gouge your eyes out if you think you’re going to force yourself on me.

That’s why I don’t get into elevators alone, and if everyone gets off and a man gets on, I get off.

That’s why I don’t take the stairs at night.

That’s why I check around my car before I get in.

That’s why I don’t offer rides to men I don’t know well. I mean, really well.

That’s why I don’t answer the door if I’m home alone.

That’s why I ask to see ID when a repairman comes to the door, and it’s why I don’t let anyone in unless I have called for a repairman.

You get the gist.

In all the flurries of “Me, too,” I have seen a few men, and my heart goes out to them.

But even more, I have seen women — friends — divulge for the first time that they are among the women who have been harassed, abused or assaulted. I know even more women who still can’t come out and say it in public.

I have also seen a few men try to mansplain why men are not at fault. I had it out with one who insisted women lie.

I hated to drop the F-bomb on another person’s time line, but I did. He wouldn’t stop, no matter how many women came on to tell him he was wrong. He just kept defending his position, through dozens of posts, until I womansplained that his behavior — insisting he was right even after it was clear he was wrong and not shutting up until everyone agreed with him, even though he was clearly wrong — was a hallmark behavior of an abusive personality.

Another man posted a “me, too,” but then went on to say it was an ugly woman at work who harassed him. So, does that mean he would have been less offended if a pretty woman had suggested they have a sexual encounter?

I called him out and other men came on to defend him, calling me a drama queen. One man even went into great detail to mansplain how men really aren’t the problem here. I dropped the F-bomb again and blocked the offender.

So, here’s the reason for harassment, abuse and assault of women: Men who harass, abuse and assault women.

It’s a culture that sees men as entitled and women as at fault.

It’s a culture where women and children aren’t believed.

It’s a culture that doesn’t value women but sees us as vessels of men’s pleasure and the source of the children who will fight their wars.

It’s a culture that will place an admitted sexual predator into the highest office in the land.

It’s a culture that “protects” victims of sexual predation by not naming them, as though they were the perpetrators.

Well, my name is Leslie Boyd and I was the victim of many, many crimes. And I’m here to say we women are coming for your male privilege.

#MeToo.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Fire Aldona Wos now

vos & mccroryIn the last few weeks, it has been revealed that NC Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Vos has hired young campaign workers and paid them more than double what an experienced teacher makes in this state.

Then this week it came out that a colleague of her husband’s has been paid more than a quarter million dollars as a consultant in just eight months.

Today, the news is that another consultant has been paid $100,000.

Talk about blatant cronyism.

This is happening while Wos wants to privatize Medicaid, which will inevitably cut money for services for people in need. Privatization is what happened to mental health services a decade ago and it caused our system to implode.

Reimbursement rates went down so no one could make a profit, providers went out of business, leaving thousands of our most vulnerable people without services.

This is what Wos wants to do with Medicaid instead of expanding it, which would cost the state nothing for three years and then just 10 percent after that.

She has lied about the reason for not expanding Medicaid, saying our Medicaid program is “broken.” Well, before the Republican General Assembly de-funded it two years ago, it was a national model.

Then she said it was because our computer system wasn’t up to the task. She didn’t mention that the state turned down millions of dollars in federal money to build the system up.

Then she said it really wasn’t her decision anyway. I replied that if she and the governor had come out strongly in favor of it the way Gov. Jan Brewer did in Arizona, we could have gotten it through. I also mentioned that the shit-eating grins on her and the governor’s faces were not the demeanor of people who were disappointed with the outcome of the vote.

She walked away from me.

So, we don’t have the money to pay teachers a decent wage, we’re too broke to help people who are unemployed through no fault of their own, our infrastructure is starting to crumble and we have to cut as many social safety net programs as we can.

But Aldona Wos can fritter away hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring friends and campaign workers.

She needs to go. Now.

Here is the letter I e-mailed to Gov. Pat McCrory. Feel free to use it as a template for your own letter to the governort:

Governor, it is time to cut your losses and fire Secretary Aldona Wos. She has violated the public trust again and again.
While Secretary Wos cries about the state Department of Health and Human Services being too broke to provide health care and other services to people in need, she pays a colleague of her husband a quarter million dollars in just eight months, pays another contractor more than $100,000 and gives jobs paying $80,000 and more to young, unqualified campaign workers.
These are not the actions of a devoted public servant; they are the actions of a woman on the take. How can you criticize people who are unemployed and then approve of Secretary Wos’s actions? How can you cut services, refuse to take federal money for an expanded Medicaid, slash funds for education, all because we’re “broke,” and allow this? It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Fire Aldona Wos now.

 

a world of progress site | woven by WEBterranean