I am ashamed to be an American right now. I am ashamed that a man like the Republican nominee is a legitimate candidate for president of my country. I am ashamed that a man who has publicly made racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic statements could be our next leader. I am ashamed that a man who publicly shames those with disabilities and women could be our next leader. And I'm baffled at how he has managed to gain so much support. Frankly, I don't think this man should be out on bail, let alone running for the highest office of this land.
Just when I didn't think it was possible for my opinion of the Republican nominee for president couldn't get any lower, push alerts started coming through on my phone just as we were leaving for family pictures. This story broke (just in case you haven't seen or heard about it, if you choose to play the video, be aware that it's not safe for work or children). I was physically ill when I heard his words. And then that anger turned to rage. Apparently I was not alone.
If you've been anywhere social media or the news recently, you've probably seen or heard about two hashtags, #notokay and #WhyWomenDontReport. Women started coming out, collectively and loudly, and talking about their first assault, and then later in the week explaining why they didn't report it. These aren't the first hashtags of this nature, just the most recent.
Loribeth reviewed a book earlier this summer called Sex Object and was brave enough to share some of her own personal experiences with men overstepping their bounds as part of her review. Her post came back to the front of my mind a few days ago when a notification for a new comment popped up in my inbox.
So I'm going to share too. If you find things like this bothersome or triggering, please take care of yourself and don't read any further.
This wasn't the first time something happened, but it was the
time where I realized that women really aren't equal. I was 11. It was
on the school bus. I was tall and lanky. I wasn't to the part of
puberty where I had hips or breasts yet. The hairstyle at the time was
for women to wear short hair (it was the early 90s, after all). I was the second to last stop so by the
time I got on, the bus was full, save for one seat, directly by a high school boy. This kid made the 10 minute ride to school seem like forever, and the only seat left by the time I got on was right beside him and where I was the only girl for at least five rows. There was a lot of verbal assaults in the first weeks of school, mainly telling me that I didn't look like a girl, but he didn't touch me. Until one day when he did. I got on the bus just like any other day, except when I got back to the seat, he grabbed me by the backpack and pulled me in, said "I'm gonna pull your pants down and see if you are really a girl." I struggled. I got my arm free. And I punched him in the nose. I was suspended from the bus for 10 days. I tried to tell the school administration what happened. I cried. I begged them to make him stop taunting me. In their eyes I was in the wrong. I had to apologize to the kid who tried to rip my clothes off of me before I was allowed back on the bus.
From this experience I learned that my voice didn't matter, at least not when it came to boys treating me poorly. I learned that the authorities didn't care about me or my well being. I learned that I wouldn't be believed. I learned that I don't matter. I learned to be afraid. I learned to feel bad about my body. I learned to stay silent. Later I stayed silent too because I was scared, because I didn't want to go through not being listened to again, because I didn't think anyone would believe me. I couldn't bear the shame again.
It took me years to realize that it wasn't my fault. That I didn't do anything to deserve any of it. That he was the one in the wrong.
The thing is that I know I'm not alone. I know that most women have experienced some form of unwanted physical attention or advance from a boy or man.
The ONLY good thing that has come out of this candidate's campaign for president is that people are talking about the prevalence of sexual assault. Though I fear that if he is elected it will only get worse, because if the man in charge does it, that makes it ok for everyone.
He can't be elected. Please tell me that he won't be.