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 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.

 

 

 

Why am I so pissed off about Brock Turner?

This is Brock Turner. He's a rapist who walked away from his crime with little more than a slap on the wrist.

This is Brock Turner. He’s a rapist who walked away from his crime with little more than a slap on the wrist.

That’s right, I’m pissed. Really pissed.

Brock Turner ruined a woman’s life. She will always be his victim, no matter how many people reach out to help and try to heal her after he raped her while she lay unconscious behind a dumpster.

The scars will remain throughout her life, affecting her ability to form and sustain intimate relationships, to trust other people, particularly men.

Sure, she was drunk. That doesn’t give anyone permission to violate her.

But a judge decided Brock Turner was just a poor, misguided boy who deserved compassion and a short — very short — sentence so that he could go back to life as usual.

Brock Turner has an immense amount of white, male and wealth privilege; the woman is meaningless in its wake.

We make excuses for this kind of “youthful hijinks.” He’s just being a boy. Boys can’t control their urges so it’s up to women to protect themselves.

I can remember sitting on the couch in the living room with my boyfriend when I was 16. My father told me later I shouldn’t cuddle so close because boys aren’t known for being able to control themselves. I told him they should be pressured to learn self-control, not have excuses made for them.

What I didn’t tell my father was that I had already been violated by someone he knew and trusted.

I didn’t tell him the abuse started when I was 3 and continued until I was 12 because I knew it had to be my fault somehow. Males can’t control themselves, so women have to do it for them.

I must have had one hell of a come-hither look when I was 3 to tempt my abuser so. I must have made myself irresistible somehow because it’s never the man’s fault. That had been made very clear to me.

So, let me tell you what it’s like to be a survivor of the kind of theft that was perpetrated on me — and on Brock Turner’s victim.

We are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs to dull the pain.

We are more likely to endure clinical depression and have severe self-esteem issues.

We are more likely to enter into abusive relationships because we don’t realize we deserve better than that.

We are more likely to become obese in a subconscious effort to be less attractive to men who might want to have their way with us.

We are more likely to die by our own hand.

The shame and guilt remain with us all our lives, no matter how hard we try to erase it. We can integrate what happened into who we are and not let it define us completely, but we can not go back to who we were, nor will we ever be who we might have been. That has been taken from us.

So, we don’t have a lot of sympathy for abusers and rapists.

But God forbid Brock Turner should endure disruption to his life because he’s such a good swimmer.

This is not an isolated incident. I could recount a number of cases of people I know who have never seen justice.

Just the other day, a 23-year-old man was given a non-sentence for molesting an 8-year-old. The judge in that case said he was “just a boy,” and he didn’t want to ruin his life.

Well, what about the real child whose life he ruined? Does that life not count?

There was the lesbian woman who cops decided was the guilty party because she probably just wanted to try sex with a man and then decided to accuse him of rape when she didn’t like it. The charges against her rapist were dropped.

If you doubt me, read the book, “Missoula,” by Jon Krakauer. It chronicles in painful detail the rape culture at the University of Montana, and if you think it’s only at the University of Montana, think again.

Time and again in our culture, male athletes are given a pass — unless, of course, they’re protesting the oppression of people of color. Then they’re vilified.

Yeah, I’m pissed, and you should be too.

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