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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s words are those of a sexual predator

The man is a sexual predator.

The man is a sexual predator.

Let me start by saying Donald Trump has always been creepy to me. There’s something icky about the man.

So, yesterday’s revelation that he bragged about sexually assaulting women comes as no surprise.

See, he has objectified women all along.

He wants sex with beautiful women, but he has no respect for them, and I would venture a guess that he has no capability to love a woman anywhere near as much as he loves himself.

He has said he would love to “date” his daughter. No decent man says that.

My son thinks all three of his daughters are beautiful, but he would never phrase it in sexual terms. My sisters and I used to joke that our father never looked at us from the neck down after we reached puberty.

But Trump fantasizes about “dating” his daughter.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I don’t have any sense of humor about sexual abuse or assault. Sexual predation is never funny. When men exercise their physical power over women by grabbing, kissing or otherwise assaulting them, it is not funny, and it is not excusable.

What Trump talked about was sexual assault, which is a trigger for me and many other women who have been victimized by men like Trump. It can bring on nightmares or panic attacks, or just feelings of anxiety and depression.

Fifty years after my abuser stopped assaulting me, I would have loved for sexual assault to be nothing to brag about, but people are still defending Trump.

In the fundamentalist Christian tradition of my youth, women were always to blame for abuse or assault. We were the daughters of Eve, who committed the original sin, and we were as guilty as she was. If we were assaulted, it was our own fault.

I must have had a hell of a come-hither look when I was 3 and the abuse started.

I know women in the fundamentalist Christian tradition who were raped by clergy and then forced to pray for forgiveness for tempting them.

When our mere existence is an excuse for sexual assault, something is wrong. Very, very wrong.

A man who brags about wanting to date his daughter, who says he needs a breath mint because he might see a woman he just has to kiss without her permission, who says he can grab “pussy” because he’s a celebrity — that man deserves nothing from the rest of us but to be completely ostracized.

When people defend Trump by saying Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office, I have to remind them that as icky as that is, it was consensual.

My husband says he has never heard his male friends talk this way about women, not even in locker rooms. It is deeply offensive to him (that’s one reason I love him).

I don’t care how much you hate the Hillary Clinton, she is nowhere near as reprehensible as this creature. It’s not even close.

So, if you want to defend Trump, do it out of earshot of me because I will call you out for your misogyny.

There is no defense.

None.

Period.

A Trump protest turns violent

Shirley Teeter talks about her experience being assaulted outside of a Donald Trump rally.

Shirley Teeter talks about her experience being assaulted outside of a Donald Trump rally.

Shirley Teeter has a long history of participating in protests, beginning in the late 1960s with civil rights marches and protests against the Vietnam War.

So, when she heard last week that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was coming to Asheville, appearing less than a block from where she lives, she decided to go and speak her mind.

Before the rally, as people filed in, Teeter says, everyone seemed in good humor.

But after the rally, the demeanor was different, she says.

“They were angry, ready for a fight,” she says. “People should know how Trump works people up in those rallies of his.”

Still, Teeter, who is 69 and uses oxygen because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, never imagined a man would haul off and sock her in the jaw.

“I told him he’d better learn to speak Russian as he walked by me,” she says. “And that his first words should be ‘ha, ha.’”

She says she was referring to Trump’s cozy relationship with Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

The man, later identified as Richard Campbell of Edisto Island, SC, hauled off and punched her in the jaw, Teeter says.

“I guess I lost consciousness because I don’t remember hitting the ground,” she says. “He tried to say I grabbed him, but that’s not true. I never touched him.”

Bystanders helped her up and emergency medical personnel tended to her wounds – bruises on her jaw and ribs and a badly skinned elbow.

“I asked the police to please arrest him,” she says. “But they didn’t.”

Apparently, if police don’t witness the assault, they can’t arrest the perpetrator, even with video evidence and a number of people offering to testify against him. A warrant was issued the next day, and Teeter said then she will press charges.

Teeter has had X-rays and no bones were broken, but two days after the assault, she was sporting a large bandage on her elbow and an ice pack on her badly bruised ribs.

Photos of Teeter on the ground, her eyes closed, went viral pretty quickly. The story made national news, including reports in CNN and the Washington Post.

“I don’t feel famous,” she says, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. “I feel violated. I feel people are being manipulated by Trump. I’ve never seen a candidate behave like this. … There are those of us who listen to his words and don’t hear the same thing. I hear the lies and the call to hate people and I see him for what he is – a very dangerous man.”

Just seeing the difference in people after the rally, Teeter says, makes her want to speak out even more. Without hesitation, she says she would go again and protest.

“You can’t let hate stop you,” she says. “I don’t know why that man thought it would be OK to punch me, I really don’t, but I refuse to be angry. I’m sad about what happened, but nobody will rob me of my sense of peace. Nobody can take that away from me. Nobody.”

The brutality must stop

rusel

This is my friend, Russell Johnson (photo taken from his Facebook profile because I couldn’t find any of the ones I’ve taken of him), who volunteers for a local Internet radio station.

Russell has been to several Moral Monday and other social justice events, and I have never seen him act inappropriately. He’s always positive, and usually funny. He’s articulate and intelligent. He is a member of Veterans for Peace.

Russell went to Ferguson to report on events there, and that’s when he got into trouble.

From what I understand, he was interviewing someone and the police told him to move on. A friend reported that he did comply with the order, but he was arrested anyway.

The police beat him to the ground and then arrested him, dragging him off because he couldn’t walk.

He spent several hours in jail before he was released, and then had to undergo treatment for a separated shoulder. It will require surgery.

Right now, that’s all the details I have, but it’s enough to make my blood boil.

I’m nonviolent. I believe very strongly that violence only begets more violence. That doesn’t mean I’m never tempted to do violence to someone, and my first impulse was that I wanted to slap those cops silly.

If I had been the one interviewing, would I have been beaten senseless and dragged off to jail? I don’t think that’s likely.

Police most often direct their brutality at people of color — especially young men.

APTOPIX_Ferguson-0c203-3101APTOPIX_Ferguson-0c203-3101I’m tired of hearing Ferguson isn’t about race. It IS about race. It is all about race. We have found a new way to enslave African-Americans and it’s in our so-called “justice” system.

If this wasn’t about race, why were the National Guard not in Ferguson but stationed in white neighborhoods nearby? If the death of Michael Brown wasn’t about race and was justified, why are people the world over so upset?

If Michael Brown’s death wasn’t about privilege, why did the prosecutor have to pervert the Grand Jury process?

Even some conservatives have looked at the evidence released by the prosecutor and are incredulous that there was no indictment of the officer who shot Michael Brown.

Even if Russell didn’t stop interviewing someone when an officer told him to move on, did that officer order others to move on? I don’t know. I’m eager to talk to Russell when he gets back to Asheville.

What I do know is that a decent man was beaten senseless for no good reason. Once again, nonviolent resistance was met with brute force.

I do know that Russell would not have thrown the first punch. The cops were not reacting to a real threat.

When someone doesn’t move when ordered, the first response should never be to beat him with clubs until he can’t even walk.

Even if Russell mouthed off, the response was inappropriately violent.

I guess I should be grateful my friend wasn’t shot and killed, but I refuse to accept that kind of crumb. Russell could have been killed by their nightsticks. Would they then say he had attacked them? Would they have gotten away with murder?

I’m willing to bet they get away with assault. After all, Russell is a black man. It seems they’re justifiably threatened (in their eyes) by that mere fact.

I am furious, but I also know we can’t answer violence with violence. We have to stand in solidarity. We have to stand in peace.

 

 

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