heartbroken and terrified, i have cried the past two days. a lot.
over the course of this election, i have wanted to share this numerous times, but i couldn't muster the courage. sitting on the edge of our bed this morning with tears in my eyes and a huge weight on my heart i realized that what we all need (regardless of our place on the map) is courage. the courage to stand up for what is right. the courage to share, even if it's painful, because there's comfort in solidarity and because awareness can and will foster change.
in the wake of the leak of "locker-room talk" of grabbing women "by the pussy", kelly oxford urged women to tweet their experiences of sexual abuse in an effort to form a community of feminist support.
it's not a tweet and i'm a few months late, but…
three years ago while on assignment in italy, i missed my 4AM pre-arranged ride to the airport. in a city where i didn't know the language, didn't have cell service and no one was awake, i panicked and flagged down the first (and only) vehicle that resembled a taxi. in a fluster, i sat in the front seat and proceeded to fall apart, unsure if i would make my flight home. this was the first time the male driver decided it was okay to touch me - he groped my thigh and tried to soothe me in italian. this was not okay, i told him so and had to physically remove his hand. the second time happened once we made it to the airport - he gave me my luggage and before i had a chance to realize what was happening, my ass was in his hand. it wasn't an accidental brush, or even a small tap, it was a full on, woman-parts-violating, aggressive squeeze. in my need to put as much distance between us as possible, as quickly as possible, i hurled a "FUCK! YOU!" and ran, completely forgetting to get a cab company name or license plate. once i was inside, i broke down for the second time that morning, not knowing it wouldn't be the last.
i arrived home safely and without further incident, but when i dropped in to the firm i had been working for and shared with my boss what had happened, i was put in a position that many women know too well. my boss, a male, laughed and joked, chalking it up to "italian men being italian men". not only did he minimize and rationalize having my body invaded, but he also laughed and urged me to share the story when a new person entered the office. i felt devalued, deflated and dehumanized. i was a professional woman who had just flown across an ocean for work, reduced to a funny anecdote on "the italian male". i broke down that night too.
i know that this is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what sexual-assault and rape victims have endured, but ANY unsolicited physical or verbal attention is W.R.O.N.G. - no. matter. the. magnitude. what saddens me most is how synonymous it is to the female-experience (ask any woman you know, i'm sure she will have at LEAST one story to tell you), how "accepted" and "normal" it is that our bodies are just there to be taken advantage of in this way, and how unfair and scary gender inequality is.
the fact that a man so openly misogynistic, (racist, homophobic, bigoted, the list goes on) has become the president of such an influential country has absolutely crushed me. it's maddening and frustrating and heart-wrenching to no end. to think of the fear of the HUGE group of people (women, people of colour, LGBQT, and on and on and on) who will be affected by this is crippling to a point of almost giving up.
i come back to the word "courage" again, and i've seen it pop up all over the place today. in the face of great despair, there are people everywhere coming together and it's encouraging.
from neko case's twitter:
"Time to get gayer, blacker, browner, lgbt'er, indigeounous'er and WOMANER than ever before! There's more of us, humanity. Mobilize with <3"
and it's TRUE - now is not the time to give up, now is the time to fight like hell and make the most noise. i know that it's not my country, but to think that it won't affect us too is both naive and dangerous thinking. it's time to band together with our southernly neighbours of all walks of life and let them know that we are here and we are with them, even if #imnotwithhim.
if you're looking for a place to start, below is a link to a list of organizations that can use your support, and is one of the best ways for us to stand alongside those who need our help: